I find a lot of pasta salads to be overly heavy for my taste. Pasta is already heavy enough on its own, you know? Adding things like Italian dressing or mayonnaise don’t have much appeal to me. I do, however, enjoy serving up simple pasta salads such as this one, with lemon and olive oil-based dressings. This is actually a salad, if you think about it, except I’ve swapped out those healthy greens for delicious carbs. I added asparagus, though, which balances everything out. Right. Joking aside, this is a lovely side dish for seasonal spring meals. It highlights Wisconsin Asiago Cheese, which is salty, a bit tangy, and nutty. It pairs perfectly with the asparagus and lemon.
I’ve kept this recipe very basic, which is how I like it, but there’s a lot of room for tweaking and experimentation. For example, you can throw in additional vegetables or fresh herbs. Also, in what’s possibly an annoying decision, I’ve left several of the ingredient quantities a bit vague. I put in starter amounts of lemon juice, salt, and pepper, but I believe that when a recipe has only a few ingredients, you should adjust to taste. Everyone has their own unique palette. What tastes bland to me might be overly salty to you or vice versa. I didn’t want to go overboard with the lemon juice, but it adds so much brightness. I often found myself squeezing a bit more lemon onto individual servings of the pasta salad in subsequent days, but I personally like a more aggressive level of acidity than (I think) most people will.
- 1 pound fresh asparagus
- 2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), plus more as needed
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more as needed
- 1 pound farfalle pasta, uncooked
- 1 cup freshly grated Wisconsin Asiago Cheese, plus more for serving
- Remove and discard the tough ends of the asparagus, then slice into one-inch pieces. Place in a steamer basket set over boiling water. Steam for 5 to 8 minutes or until crisp-tender. The total time will depend on the thickness of the asparagus.
- Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil, and cook the pasta until al dente. Before draining, reserve some of the pasta water using a ladle or liquid measuring cup.
- Transfer the pasta to a large bowl. Add the dressing along with the steamed asparagus and asiago cheese, tossing to combined. If needed, add a small amount of the pasta water to help bring the ingredients together. Add additional lemon juice, salt and pepper if desired. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with additional grated cheese.
- Pasta salad can be served warm or at room temperature.
This post is sponsored by Wisconsin Cheese. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Savory Simple!