Texture, flavor, creamy and make-ahead easy, Lemon-Dijon Asparagus and Pea Macaroni Salad is packed with spring veggies and makes a welcome pasta salad to picnics and potlucks. vegan + optionally gluten free
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.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the mayo, lemon zest (if using) and juice** (see notes), mustard, garlic, salt and fresh ground pepper.
*Pasta: I find I almost always cook pasta longer than package directions indicate. This recipe calls for cooking the pasta then adding the asparagus then peas late in the pasta cooking process. If not sure how long the pasta will take (and I've done this before too, when using a new to me pasta), drain the pasta, reserving the pasta water, bring the pasta water back to a boil and cook the asparagus and peas in the pasta water as directed in the recipe. Doing this ensures the pasta is cooked to al dente and not overcooked.
**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.