Spring Pasta Salad

spring pasta salad

Here’s a pasta salad that features all the flavors of spring including fresh asparagus, baby zucchini, arugula, artichoke hearts, colorful cherry tomatoes, peas and fresh herbs. It’s light, healthy and just perfect for spring!

You can enjoy this spring pasta salad as a main dish by maybe adding some grilled shrimp to it or as a side dish for any party you might be having. Mother’s Day is right around the corner and this would be a nice option for a salad.
farfalloni pasta What really inspired me for this salad was this pasta shape that I found called farfalloni, it reminded me of fluttering butterfies, so cute with the rounded edges. I actually found this at my local HomeGoods store in their gourmet food section.

Years ago I did another spring inspired pasta salad with this pasta shape that I found there as well.

farfalloni pasta The key to a good pasta salad is to make sure your pasta isn’t overcooked, you don’t want it to be soft and mushy, it has to have a nice bite to it so it can hold up to all the veggies that you’re adding. My advice is to start testing it two minutes before the suggested cooking time, you’ll be the best judge by giving it a taste test.

spring pasta salad I’m going to be giving you approximate amounts because when making a pasta salad I always add more or less of something according to my likes and according to how it looks on my platter.

spring pasta salad

You’re zucchini ribbons will soften and bend once the dressing is applied so you can easily intertwine them throughout the pasta salad for an pretty and elegant look.

Spring is here, enjoy!

You can follow Proud Italian Cook on Instagram to see what I’m cooking up, I usually post something daily.

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Spring Pasta Salad
 
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Ingredients
  • 8 oz. of cooked farfalloni pasta, (or farfalle pasta better known as bow ties or butterflies) being careful not to overcook it, once cooked cool it off with cold water then place onto a rimmed cookie sheet so that you can dab any excess water that might fall into the pasta "wings" with a paper towel
  • ½ jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained
  • ¼ bag of defrosted peas
  • 2 cups of sliced multi colored cherry tomatoes prepped for ten minutes in a good drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped basil so that the tomato juices and olive oil mingle together
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, ( I prefer a more medium tip not the pencil thin ones) sliced in thirds and pre roasted or blanched for just a few minutes, cooked al'dente with still a bite to it
  • zucchini ribbons done with a vegetable peeler, turning it while peeling it being careful not to reach the seeds. ( use small zucchini)
  • 1 or 2 handfuls of arugula, depending on your liking
  • fresh basil and parsley
  • DRESSING:
  • 1 part white balsamic vinegar to 3 parts olive oil with a touch of dijon mustard to thicken it up, just whisk everything together adding salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Take a big bowl and place all your ingredients into it, spooning the dressing in little by little and adding salt and pepper to taste and being nice and gentle tossing it.
  2. Then place it all onto a pretty platter adding more zucchini ribbons, peas, artichoke hearts or whatever else to make it look balanced with the veggies.
  3. Spoon more dressing if needed.

 

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Fuss Free Entertaining

luncheon ideas Sometimes you just don’t need hours of planning and prepping in advance or cooking 3 days ahead of time when entertaining, especially in the summer months when things are more relaxed and casual. Here’s a few things I like to make when having friends or family stop by either on short notice or even planned in advance.

I love to spread everything out buffet style, once it’s laid out you can enjoy yourself and not worry about getting up and down to serve things.

Most of the ingredients I always have on hand either in my pantry or fridge, the others I usually buy weekly anyway and a couple of things I like to keep handy in my freezer. There’s no mayo required in any of this so you don’t have to worry about anything spoiling either.

focaccia sandwich ingredients Have you seen those round or square pre-made focaccia breads? I get mine at a local Italian market, but I’ve seen them in the bakery section at many different grocery stores, they keep really nice in the freezer and are easy to defrost. I’ve seen them topped with many things like olives, onions, jalepenos and chedder, they all look so pretty and they make a great sandwich.

My two favorites that I personally get are the ones topped with artichoke hearts and the simple crushed tomato topping, they taste so good as is, so I like to keep my deli meats simple. You’ll want to cut them horizontally with a serrated knife, just take your time and they will split in half fine.

What adds to the flavor of the sandwich is this oil based pepper spread, it’s a staple in my fridge, a mild combination of finely chopped veggies some spices and vinegar, like a giardiniera but only finely chopped, it’s spreads really nice and it’s packed with flavor. If you can’t find it finely chopped you can just pulse a regular jar of giardiniera in your food processor a few times to make it more spreadable.

focaccia sandwich I prefer not over packing my sandwich full of meats and cheese, just a simple layer will do, you have a lot going on in flavors with the topping and the spread. I used prosciutto and sliced Asiago on the artichoke topped one and  a rosemary ham also with Asiago on the other.

focaccia sandwich You can cut your focaccia sandwiches according to what other things you’ll be serving, out of one eight inch focaccia, I had six to nine servings.

caprese salad Who doesn’t like a caprese salad, the more it sits the better it gets! Even though it’s not officially tomato season, I was lucky to find some beautiful heirlooms and they tasted wonderful, in fact I’m going back for more.

shrimp and endive platter This endive salad is made with two bunches of endive, a half pound of cooked shrimp, an avocado, a hint of lemon,radishes, green onions, fresh basil and a light drizzle of olive oil all chopped into bite size pieces and folded together and then spooned onto individual endive leaves and arranged on a platter. So simple and so light and a nice presentation to boot, I could eat this alone for lunch!

pasta salad This pasta salad is also light and fresh, there’s no mayo in here,the creaminess comes from goat cheese and it’s all tossed in a light vinaigrette.

pasta salad It’s an old recipe from Martha, you can take the basic concept and add or take away any ingredients you personally like, I added red pepper strips to mine, but it’s delicious and it can sit out on a buffet without worry.

luncheon party

Add in some fresh fruit and olives then tell your friends to bring dessert, cannolis in my case!

Pour a glass of wine, sit and enjoy the time with your guests.

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Vegetable Pasta Salad with Broken Lasagna Noodles

vegetable pasta salad with broken lasagna noodles Here’s a pasta salad that’s great for entertaining, you can bring it to your next party or serve it all summer long, it pairs perfectly with just about anything you put on your grill. It’s colorful, fresh and looks pretty on a platter!

ingredients for pasta salad You can prep everything ahead of time, placing it all on your platter and then just before your going to serve it, drizzle on the dressing.

vegetable pasta salad with broken lasagna noodles I saw this salad in a BHG magazine and what attracted me to it was the broken lasagna noodles, a little different twist on your typical pasta salad which is usually made with bow ties or rotini pasta, plus I really loved the addition of green beans and tiny mozzarella balls.

vegetable pasta salad with broken lasagna noodles The combination of flavors take this salad over the top! This could easily be a meal in itself or the perfect side dish for your next cookout. Time to fire up the grill!

Vegetable Pasta Salad with Broken Lasagna Noodles
 
Ingredients
  • Adapted from BHG magazine
  • 8oz. dried lasagna noodles, broken into 3-inch pieces, or 3 cups of any pasta of your choice
  • 2 cups fresh, cooked thin green beans, (haricots verts)
  • 8 oz. bite size mozzarella balls
  • a handful of kalamata olives
  • 1 small yellow squash, sliced into thin rounds on a mandolin
  • 1 small zucchini squash, sliced into thin rounds on a mandolin
  • 1 cup of halved cherry tomatoes, preferably multi colored
  • 1 cup of arugula or spinach
  • ½ cup of thin sliced red onion
  • 2-3 oz, of salami cut into quarters
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta, rinse in cold water and pat dry.
  2. Arrange all the ingredients onto a nice big platter.
  3. Drizzle with a Lemon and Olive Oil Dressing or your favorite vinaigrette.
  4. For Lemon and Olive Oil Dressing.
  5. ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  6. zest of 1 lemon
  7. 2 or so tablespoons of lemon juice
  8. pinch of salt and pepper
  9. 1 garlic clove grated on a microplane
  10. Whisk it all together until incorporated, feel free to double this!

 

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Farfalle Pasta Salad to Welcome in Spring

We can officially now say that winter is behind us and spring has arrived, and this is the perfect salad to usher in the warm weather!  Farfalle pasta, tender asparagus, cherry tomatoes, baby arugula and pecorino and pepper roasted chickpeas.
I love the gourmet food section of HomeGoods I always find something good there, the minute I saw these cute colorful butterflies I knew I’d be making a pasta salad so I quickly grabbed a couple of boxes, don’t they just scream spring? The pasta is made with all natural ingredients too, red beets, red bell pepper, spinach and tumeric, no food coloring at all. 
Boil gently for 10 to 12 minutes then spray with cold water to cool down.
Slice cherry tomatoes in half add 1 crushed garlic clove, a healthy dose of olive oil, fresh chopped basil, salt and pepper, as it sits for a while the tomato juice will mingle with the oil and this will become your dressing.
For the roasted chickpeas I used one can that was drained and patted dry then tossed on a baking sheet with olive oil, lots of cracked black pepper, salt and a healthy dose of pecorino romano. Roast for around 15 minutes at 400 or until golden. 
I cut the asparagus at a diagonal and roasted them for a few minutes, tender but al’ dente. Just toss everything together adding more olive oil, basil and grated pecorino romano.
For this version right above and below I added in julienned zucchini and sliced olives for added flavor and texture.
Either way, I’m sure you’ll enjoy!
Buon Appetito

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