Texture, flavor, creamy and make-ahead easy, Lemon-Dijon Asparagus and Pea Macaroni Salad is packed with spring veggies and is a welcomed creamy macaroni salad to picnics and potlucks. This recipe is vegan, vegetarian and easily gluten free.
Y’all know what time of year it is….
Of course with that comes BBQ, beach, camping, road trip and alfresco season. So much to love about spring and summer, and with fresh produce making a showing at the farms and farmers markets, inspiration is endless!
So, while I’ve Costa Rica stories to share from our trip late April, I’m saving those for an upcoming post(s) inspired by our trip. The recipe will of course have a tropical theme. But until then, I’ve got picnics on my mind and this creamy macaroni salad!
Macaroni salad recipes always seems to be a favorite. But I wanted to create a spin on the classic that included spring veggies and one I could use plenty of fresh herbs from my tiny herb plot in. With local asparagus finally available, I grabbed two bundles of asparagus and got to work on this macaroni salad recipe; one I’d been contemplating since late winter and the best macaroni salad I’ve made yet!
How to Make Lemon-Dijon Asparagus and Pea Macaroni Salad
- First, put the pasta on to boil. When the pasta is almost done, plunge the asparagus in with the pasta, then the peas so they can gently blanch. Drain and rinse under cool running water. Toss into a large mixing bowl and chill.
- Next, in a small bowl whisk the mayo, lemon, dijon mustard, garlic salt and pepper.
- Last, to the large mixing bowl, add the sun dried tomatoes, fresh herbs and pour on the dressing. Mix and chill until ready to enjoy!
Lemon-Dijon Asparagus and Pea Macaroni Salad is a lip smackin’, texture rich and creamy macaroni salad that’s fabulous for sharing. It’s easy (something I rarely say when it comes to cooking) to pull together too, requiring only one pot to cook the pasta, asparagus and peas. Whip the dressing up while the pasta chills in the fridge and it’s ready.
A Few Recipe Notes
- Use your favorite pasta in this creamy macaroni salad recipe, gluten free or not.
- When cooking pasta, I find I almost always cook pasta longer than package directions indicate. This recipe calls for cooking the pasta then adding asparagus and peas late in the pasta cooking process. If not sure how long the pasta will take (and I’ve done this before too, when cooking new-to-me pasta), drain the pasta, reserving the pasta water, and cook the asparagus and peas in the pasta water after the pasta separately. Doing this ensures the pasta is cooked to al dente and not overcooked.
- Make ahead: this creamy macaroni salad looks best on the day it’s made. It can be made a day ahead, and though it still tastes great, I find the vibrant green colors diminished on day two.
- Lemon: I absolutely love the vibrant lip-pucker taste of lemon and this recipe reflects that. If concerned about too much lemon, back off a bit in the dressing by omitting the zest and perhaps the additional 1/2 lemon juiced. It can be adjusted to taste after the dressing is mixed in with the salad.
More Spring Picnic Salads to Love
- Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Spinach – from Green Valley Kitchen
- Broccoli Slaw with Golden Raisins and Walnuts
- Baby Potatoes with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Caper Dressing – from Foolproof Living
- Shaved Asparagus Quinoa Salad with Lemon Dijon Poppyseed Dressing
- Texas Potato Salad
Lemon-Dijon Asparagus and Pea Macaroni Salad
- 2 C (9.5oz / 265g) Elbow Macaroni Pasta* gluten free if needed (see note)
- 1 lb (480g) Fresh Asparagus , tough ends removed and sliced on the bias into bite size pieces
- 1 1/2 C (200g) Frozen Peas
- 2/3 C (120g) Sun-dried Tomatoes marinated, drained and chopped
- 1/3 C (15g) Curly Parsley finely chopped
- 1/3 C (10g) Chives finely chopped
For the Dressing:
- 1/3 C + 1 Tbs (100g) Mayo I like Vegenase
- 1 1/2 Lemons - juiced + zest from one** (see note)
- 2 Tbs Dijon Mustard
- 1 tsp Garlic minced or grated, about 2 large cloves
- 1 1/2 tsp Fine Sea Salt
- Plenty of Fresh Ground Pepper
- Cook pasta according to package directions (see note)*. During the last four minutes of cooking, drop the asparagus in with the pasta. During the last minute of cooking, add the peas. Carefully drain and rinse the pasta and veggies in a colander under cool running water, tossing as needed to completely cool. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and place in the refrigerator while mixing the dressing (see below).
- Once chilled, pour the dressing over the pasta salad, adjust lemon, salt and ground pepper to taste and serve right away or store in a lidded container for up to four days. The vibrant green color of the veggies is best on the day the salad is made.
For the Dressing:
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the mayo, lemon zest (if using) and juice** (see notes), mustard, garlic, salt and fresh ground pepper.