I loooove pasta salads…that is, as long as they are mayo-free. I’ve made many versions over the years (one of my favorites is Cold Pasta Salad with Roasted Chicken, Plums, Blue Cheese and Basil) and what I love about them is their versatility. You can throw in basically any ingredient, and they’re always ready to serve, no heating needed. It’s the perfect summer food.
I took this Neelys recipe camping for my BFF’s birthday a few weekends ago. We went to our favorite spot up in the mountains — the last stretch to get there is a 30-minute off-road adventure, which keeps away the crowds — and we basically had the place to ourselves. The first night we had some leftover remnants of smoke from the fires in Southern California, but the next day it blew off and we enjoyed the views of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains. Gorg! And real pine trees in California! Now that’s camping.
Back to the food — this pasta salad gets dressed up with asparagus, peas, cherry tomatoes, feta, dill and a lemony dressing. It’s the perfect side dish for a cookout. Throw some in a Tupperware and put it in the cooler for a camping trip. Whip some up this weekend!
- Next time I might change up the dill and add flat leaf parsley instead, for a fresher, brighter twist.
- You could also switch up the feta with mozzarella or crumbled goat cheese.
- Make sure you salt the pasta water — and taste for salt before you serve. I underseasoned mine.
Lemon Asparagus Pasta Salad
- 1 pound corkscrew pasta
- 1 pound asparagus
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup freshly chopped dill leaves
- 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
- 7 ounces crumbled feta cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and rinse. Set aside.
In another large pot of boiling salted water, add the asparagus and blanch until bright green and slightly tender, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon or a spider and shock in icy cold water. Remove from the water and dry well.
Trim the ends of the asparagus and cut into bite-size pieces on the bias.
Whisk together the mustard, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Combine the reserved asparagus and pasta in a large serving bowl. Add the tomatoes, dill, peas, feta, and the mustard dressing. Toss with tongs to coat the salad well. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, if needed.