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Celebrate spring with a simple pasta salad

Learn how to spruce up traditional pasta salads with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

It's no secret that vegetables are packed with a whole lot of vitamins and nutrients that are good for you. Adding a few vegetables to a standard pasta salad can also add a punch of flavor.

The flavor possibilities are endless and the health benefits are plentiful.

  • Peas are an excellent source of folate, vitamin A and vitamin C. Per 1 cup they also contain roughly 7g of fiber.
  • Vitamin A is important for normal vision and preventing age-related macular degeneration. It also boosts immune system function and helps a variety of our internal organs such as the heart, lungs and kidneys function properly.
  • Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C (important for immune system) and vitamin A (important for vision).
  • Asparagus is a good source of vitamin C and folic acid. Folic acid is especially important for pregnant women to help with fetal spinal cord development.
  • Peas are an excellent source of folate, vitamin A and vitamin C. Per 1 cup they also contain roughly 7g of fiber.
  • Fiber also helps our digestive track keep us regular and can help lower cholesterol.
  • Fiber recommendations are 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men; if over the age of 50, fiber needs are 21 grams for women and 30 grams for men.

Melissa Jaeger, a registered dietitian with HyVee, shared this delicious springtime pasta salad recipe.

Recipe: 

Springtime Pasta Salad                                                          

Serves 6 - 8

Dressing: 

All you need: 

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp honey

1 clove garlic, grated

1 lemon, zested and juiced

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Pasta Salad:

All you need: 

12 oz cavatappi pasta, cooked to package instructions

4 oz asparagus, blanched and thinly sliced (see ‘How to blanch asparagus’ tip)

1 (12-oz) bag frozen peas, defrosted

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

1 shallot, minced

½ cup fresh chopped dill

Shaved Parmesan, for garnish

All you do: 

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and blanch the asparagus (see ‘How to blanch asparagus’). Remove asparagus from water and boil pasta according to package instructions. See Chef’s tip.
  2. For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, garlic, lemon zest and juice and season with salt and pepper.
  3. For the salad: Toss the pasta with the asparagus, peas, tomatoes, shallots and dill. Pour the dressing over the salad, tossing to coat. Let the salad rest in the fridge for 30 minutes prior to serving to soak up all of the flavor.
  4. When ready to serve, top with fresh shaved Parmesan.

Chef’s tip: After the pasta is done boiling, immediately drain and shock under cold water to prevent from continuing to cook and to start the cooling process. Simply run under cold water immediately after draining.

How to blanch asparagus: Prepare the asparagus by trimming off the end. Have a large bowl of ice water ready. In a large saucepan bring water to a boil and boil asparagus for 1- 2 minutes, depending upon thickness, until tender and bright green. Remove with tongs and immediately transfer to ice water for 1 minute to stop the cooking process or rinse under cold running water.

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