Pasta Salad with Asparagus is a snap to make with fancied up bottled dressing. It's made healthier than most with the added veggies.
We love pasta salad and find it to be the perfect warm weather side dish, but it is starchy and not particularly good for you. Including asparagus and grape tomatoes not only gives it beautiful color and flavors, but really kicks the nutrition up a notch.
This salad is super quick and easy
The great thing about adding asparagus is that they can go right in the pot with the pasta. Just wait until you've got about two minutes left and drop in the asparagus. Then drain it all together too.
You'll want to be sure you've washed and cut your asparagus first, so it's ready to go in at the right time.
We like to cut it into about one inch pieces - that's the perfect size for a single bite.
Bottled salad dressing made better
For most of our salads we make our own dressing. This Salad with Oranges actually has a marinade for the asparagus that doubles as dressing. The dressing we use for our Southwestern Salad is full of bold, Tex-mex flavors.
And this one is a Fall Green Salad with Apples and the dressing is made from apple cider vinegar.
But, sometimes you just need to get a dish ready quickly and this pasta salad with asparagus is perfect for that occasion. We do recommend using a good quality store bought dressing. Did you know that the best ones are found in the produce section of your store?
One of our favorites is Marie's, and it's pretty readily available. We just add a few simple ingredients and give it a good shake. It's almost as good as homemade.
Olives are an optional addition
We love olives, especially kalamatas, like we've used here. With feta cheese in our pasta salad the olives will give it a decidedly Mediterranean twist (similar to our Mediterranean Cucumber Salad). But, we do know that a lot of people don't love them.
So, leave them out if you like. Better yet, if your people are divided just put a few kalamata olives in a bowl on the side and let everyone choose.
This recipe made the suggested list for the Backyard BBQ Menu Ideas. You'll want to visit for lots of other recipes as well as tips, tricks and planning help for your cookout.
Pasta Salad with Asparagus can be a meal
What a delightful light supper or summer/springtime lunch that would be! The best kind of protein to add? Pick your favorite:
- Boiled or grilled shrimp
- Marinated Chicken
- Salami cut into strips
- Ham cut into cubes or strips
This salad is also a great side for main dishes like Grilled Chicken Leg Quarters.
If you have some extra asparagus lying around, try this Quick Pickled Asparagus.
Pasta Salad with Asparagus
For the Dressing
- 1 cup bottled Italian dressing recommend refrigerated type
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- zest of ½ lemon
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
For the Salad
- 6-8 ounces pasta
- 10-12 sprears asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces
- ½-1 pint grape tomatoes halved
- 2-3 ounces Feta cheese crumbled
- ½ cup pitted kalamata olives optional
For the Dressing
- Mix all ingredients and shake or whisk until well blended.
For the Salad
- Cook pasta according to package directions, adding asparagus in the last two minutes of cooking time.
- Drain pasta and asparagus thoroughly.
- Mix pasta, asparagus, dressing and remaining ingredients.
- Garnish if desired with fresh, chopped herbs.
- Chill until serving time, but at least 1 hour.
FAQ's about Pasta Salad
WHAT TYPE OF PASTA IS BEST?
You can use any type you like, but the medium to small size like bowtie (Farfalle), elbows or mini penne are most typically used.
CAN YOU MAKE PASTA SALAD AHEAD OF TIME?
Pasta salad can be made several hours ahead of time. If you need to make it longer than that we recommend waiting to add the dressing right before serving. Before you refrigerate, tightly toss the ingredients with olive oil to keep them from sticking together.
CAN I MAKE MY FAVORITE HOMEMADE VINAIGRETTE DRESSING?
Absolutely! We developed this recipe to be quick and easy, but if you have a favorite dressing you like to use go for it!
WHAT IF WE DON'T LIKE FETA CHEESE?
You could leave the cheese out altogether, but we recommend adding some if possible. Other great choices would be grated mozzarella, any type of blue cheese or goat cheese crumbles.