The Everyday Chef: Grilled Asparagus Pasta Salad
Alex Caspero, MA, RD, CLT
Everyday Chef, Fruits & Veggies—More Matters
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of pasta, especially pasta salads. This light side dish is perfect for ushering in spring. It’s packed with grilled asparagus, tomatoes and onions tossed with chewy pasta and a tangy lemon and caper dressing.
For convenience, I use the grill pan on my stove. Sure, it doesn’t give the vegetables quite the same smoky flavor that a charcoal grill provides, but it makes this dish come together in less than 30 minutes.
The moment asparagus is in season, I eat it at least a few times a week. At the grocery store, don’t worry about the width of the asparagus as size isn’t an indicator of quality or flavor; thick asparagus is just more mature than the thin variety. Instead, look for bright green or violet-tinged spears with firm but not limp stems. Avoid stalks that appear woody. Make sure the tips are closed and compact. When the bunch is squeezed, it should squeak.
Grab a bunch of asparagus, a few tomatoes and start grilling this delicious pasta salad. Don’t omit the parsley, mint and capers – the combination together is the key to this bright and easy recipe. It can be made ahead of time, and tastes best at room temperature.
Grilled Asparagus Pasta Salad
- 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
- 1 bunch asparagus, tough ends removed
- 3 roma tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1″ slice red onion
- 2 tablespoons drained caper berries
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for grilling
- ½ teaspoon salt/freshly ground pepper
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped mint
- ¼ cup goat cheese crumbles (optional)
- Heat a oiled grill pan or grill on medium heat.
- Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and add the orzo. Cook until just al dente according to package directions. Drain and lightly rinse. Place into a large bowl and set aside.
- 3. Grill the asparagus spears, halved roma tomatoes and slice of onion until tender with a few char/grill marks. Remove from heat and chop the asparagus into 1? pieces, tomatoes into bite-size pieces and onion into a small dice.
- 4. Add the vegetables into the bowl with the orzo. Whisk together the capers, lemon, Dijon, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to create a dressing, then toss with the vegetables and orzo. Add the herbs and toss again. Season to taste for salt and pepper.
Per serving: (1/4th recipe without cheese): 281 calories, 14g fat, 2g saturated fat, 417mg sodium, 33g carbohydrates, 8g sugar, 5g fiber, 7g protein
Photo Credit: Alex Caspero