Asparagus is one of those vegetables that (prior to this pasta salad escapade) I only knew how to make one way: roasted in the oven with a dot of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. It’s a simple method, but it’s always delicious and nearly foolproof. And it’s no secret that I have a thing for roasted veggies.
But the dawning of asparagus season is upon us, and it seemed a shame to spend the next two months (an arguably short in-season for a veggie, by the way) in an asparagus-preparation rut. So I’m actively seeking out new asparagus-laden recipes to expand my green and stalky repertoire.
Last week turned out to be crazy warm here in Missouri, which set my mind on summertime, picnics and barbecues. And when I happened across this recipe for pasta salad with asparagus and lemon from Real Simple, it seemed to fit the must-use-asparagus and must-not-be-served-so-piping-hot-that-we-feel-miserably-warm-while-eating-it criteria. And it’s pasta salad; what’s more picnic-y feeling than that?
Pasta Salad with Asparagus and Lemon
From Real Simple, June 2009
• 8 ounces penne pasta (I probably used about 10 ounces; there’s definitely a little wiggle room.)
• 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
• ¼ cup Parmesan pieces (or grated, if you prefer), about 1 ounce
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
• kosher salt
• freshly ground black pepper
Cook the penne according to package directions, adding the asparagus during the last 3 ½ minutes of cooking. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool, then transfer pasta and asparagus to a large bowl.
Add the Parmesan, oil, lemon juice and zest, about ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Toss to combine.
Jared and I plowed through this pasta salad pretty quickly. It’s easy, light, fresh and just what you need on a hot, hot day when you don’t feel like spending hours and hours next to a warm oven. I’d call it a win for sure — and the perfect way to ring in the season. Woo hoo!
What’s your go-to way for cooking asparagus? Do you have any favorite recipes that call for asparagus in a fun or unusual way? Let’s hear it!