If you search “green vegetables” on the web—or on my favorite site for nutrition information, NutritionFacts.org—you’ll find loads of research extolling the health benefits of these verdant veggies.
Even those of us who follow a balanced, plant-based diet could probably stand to work a few more of these disease-preventing, health-boosting “super-foods” into our meals—especially the green leafy variety. Eat Your Greens Pasta Salad is a delicious way to do just that!
Like most of my recipes, this one’s pretty simple. You chop up some fresh spinach, blanch peas and asparagus (until they’re bright green, but still a bit crunchy), add in some curly pasta and toss it all together with a light, tangy tahini dressing.
For a flavor/texture/color boost, I like to throw in some toasted pine nuts and thinly sliced red onion. Then—because this is a lightly dressed salad—season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. That’s it!
(Did I lose you at “pine nuts”? I love their rich, full flavor—and a little go a long way. But I get it, the little buggers are expensive! You could easily substitute sunflower seeds or toasted, slivered almonds here for a more economical alternative.)
The pasta elevates this salad to dinner status in my book, making it a go-to meal when the weather calls for something substantial (so you’re not starving by bed time!), but light. Eat Your Greens Pasta Salad is a refreshing and satisfying way to work more healthy greens into your meal plan.
Eat Your Greens Pasta Salad
- 1/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon brown rice syrup
- 1-2 dashes of cayenne pepper
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 pound fresh asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces and blanched
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas, blanched (rinse frozen peas in cold water to thaw)
- 4 cups fresh spinach, cut into ribbons (about 1/2 pound)
- 8 ounces fusilli or other curly pasta
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- To make the dressing, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl. Allow the dressing to chill in fridge while you prepare everything else.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the asparagus and peas, and blanch for 3 minutes, or until the thickest pieces of asparagus are just cooked. Drain the asparagus and peas, and immediately transfer to an ice bath. Drain well, and layout on a cutting board or baking sheet. Dry well with a kitchen towel. Add the asparagus, peas and chopped spinach to a large bowl.
- Cook the pasta according to directions, until al dente. Drain the pasta, rinse with cool water, and transfer to the bowl with the vegetables.
- Pour the dressing over the pasta and vegetables, and toss well. Season generously with sea salt and freshly ground pepper (see notes.)
- Add red onion slices and pine nuts. (I like to toss 1/2 into the pasta salad, and sprinkle the rest on top.)
- Both asparagus and unwashed spinach can be sandy. To clean these vegetables thoroughly, place them in a very large bowl of water and mix them around a bit with your hands, allowing the dirt to fall to the bottom.
- You don't want the pasta salad to be watery! Thoroughly and gently dry the spinach, asparagus and peas with a clean kitchen towel .
- This is a lightly dressed pasta salad, so I recommend seasoning well with salt & pepper.