Tender pasta, with fresh, sauteed asparagus and sweet peas tossed in a bright lemony dressing is a salad that has all the fresh flavors of springtime! This simple pasta salad is great for a weeknight meal and is perfect for outdoor parties and dining. It’s a outstanding recipe to double if you’re feeding a crowd and is always a favorite at any festivity.
It’s the time of year for outdoor dining! Every spring, I look forward to sprucing up the deck so that we can head enjoy our meals in the fresh air. Dining “alfresco” is so much more enjoyable to me than being inside. Somehow, the food seems to taste just a little bit better and everyone tends to linger around the table a bit longer when we’re outside. Over the years, when I’ve gathered my family around the table, I serve them their favorites from the grill and I always add in a “new to them” dish. This year, it’s this Lemony Asparagus & Pea Pasta Salad.
I came up with this recipe because I wanted a new pasta salad that was uncomplicated, had just a few ingredients yet would have great flavor and character. Even though I’m a big fan of pasta salads, I didn’t want a bunch of extra ingredients that would overpower the pasta like some recipes do. I choose beautiful, spring asparagus and green peas to be the stars of the salad. With just a few other additions, I had the basis of something really tempting.
The one thing that makes this pasta salad special is the dressing. It’s no secret that I love lemon, like LOVE lemon, so of course, that was my go-to ingredient to make my dressing. Making a vinaigrette to toss the veggies and pasta in was super simple. All I did was pour some olive oil, fresh lemon juice, add in a splash of red wine vinegar, some zest olus salt and pepper into a mason jar. I gave it a shake then drizzled it over my pasta and mixed my salad. I sprinkled on some Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley and was done.
Lemony Asparagus & Pea Pasta Salad is a great side dish alongside grilled meats and fish. It’s also a wonderful recipe if you’ve got lots of folks to feed since it can be doubled and tripled with ease. Since it doesn’t contain any mayo or sour cream, it’s an excellent dish to serve at any outdoor party, celebration or covered dish supper.
A few recipe notes:
- Use any kind of pasta you like, I just happened to have Rotini on hand. I like to cook my pasta “al dente” which means tender but not soft. Cook according to the package directions but start checking the pasta right before the cooking time is complete.
- I prefer to saute the asparagus to get a bit of char on the stalks. You could roast them in the oven as well.
- If you are not a fan of peas, then leave them out.
- I love lemons but if the dressing is too strong for you, just leave out the zest.
- This salad is best served at room temperature. If you make it ahead of time, just take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temp before serving.
- 1 pound (16 ounces) uncooked pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound asparagus - cut into approximately 1" pieces
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- dash black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups baby peas - thawed
- 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese - grated
- 2 tablespoons parsley - chopped
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice - fresh squeezed
- 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
- Cook pasta in salted water to al dente according to package directions. Drain pasta and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
- While pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet. Add asparagus, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cook on medium high for 3 to 4 minutes until asparagus is tender but still has a crisp texture. Remove from pan and set aside. Place frozen peas in strainer and rise with cool water. Set aside to drain.
- In a mason jar or small bowl, mix together olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar lemon zest, salt and pepper. Set aside
- In a large bowl, add pasta, asparagus and peas. Drizzle on lemon vinaigrette and toss to mix all ingredients. Sprinkle on Parmesan cheese and parsley. Gently toss and place in serving bowl. Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese and parsley if desired. Serve and enjoy!
- Can be stored, covered in refrigerator for up to 3 day.
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