Recipe: $9.93 | Per Serving: $1.66 | Yield: 6
Pasta salad is sometimes the most satisfying thing in the world. It is filling and flavorful, but also sort of fresh and light because of the abundance of raw or lightly cooked vegetables. It is summertime fare in a bowl. The perfect accompaniment to a picnic or potluck. Versatile and customizable and super duper easy!
I have been thinking about making pasta salad for the last several weeks, and although I tend to make a lot of quinoa salads (which are also super delicious), a simple pasta salad made by my friend Annie the day before our marathon was the tipping point for actually following through. The pasta salad I’d been craving is one that had been thrown together by the personal chef mama of my old coworker and friend Brooke. This chef mama is the definition of hostess with the most-ess, and her pasta salad was perfection.
Her version of this pasta salad had bowtie pasta and pine nuts, and occasionally some fresh peas too I think. Since I’m a whole wheat pasta eater, I couldn’t find bowties (farfalle) so I used rotini, and I’m a believer in swapping out pricy pine nuts for similar, but more affordable walnuts whenever possible. We’re also probably working with slightly less goat cheese here (because $$$), but I promise this budgeter’s version is so.stinkin.good. Asparagus & Goat Cheese Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Sun Dried Tomatoes. <– That is a ridiculous title, but that’s basically all you’re working with here!
I am well aware that spring is basically over and summer has almost arrived, but I’m losing faith in this whole 4-distinct-seasons thing, because it was 80 degrees in February this year and 60 degrees last week. So, wherever you are, whatever time of year it is, if you can get your hands on some asparagus, please do so.
Paleo: NERP. You can make this gluten-free by skipping the pasta and adding some greens to make an actual salad…as long as you’re okay with the goat cheese because that’s pretty much nonnegotiable. Enjoy!
- ⅔ of a 16-oz box of whole wheat rotini pasta (I used 3.5 cups of dry rotini)
- ½ pound of chopped asparagus (about 2-3 cups)
- ½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- 4 ounces goat cheese, divided and chilled
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil (more to taste)
- ½ Tablespoon lemon or lime juice (more to taste)
- ½ cup walnut pieces
- salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil and add the pasta. If using whole wheat rotini, cook for 6 minutes. You want to cook the pasta for about 2-3 minutes LESS than recommended on the box.
- After 6 minutes, stir in the asparagus and let cook another 2 minutes. (It might not come back to a boil, but that's okay.)
- If using dry sun-dried tomatoes (as opposed to those packed in oil), toss them in the pot as well for about 10 seconds, then drain immediately. (If your SDT are packed in oil or water, skip this step and just add them later.)
- Let pasta and asparagus cool a bit, either by rinsing with cold water or by chilling in the fridge briefly.
- Stir in half the goat cheese (2 ounces), olive oil, lemon or lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. (Add the oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes at this stage as well.) Let chill completely until ready to serve.
- When it's time to serve. stir in the walnuts, and crumble the remaining goat cheese on top. Squeeze a bit more fresh lemon or lime juice if desired, and serve cold or at room temperature!
I used dry sun-dried tomatoes for the pictured recipe.
You can also stir in some baby spinach if you want this to be a slightly more salad-y pasta salad.