The popularity of one of my pins to Pinterest once again inspired me to try the recipe faster than I might ordinarily have done. Pasta salad is more of a summer dish I make to accompany things we’re grilling outside, not a winter dish when it’s so cold up North. I thought it sounded so unusual I wanted to try it. When it had so many repins I had to check it out!
Up North is a whole different world at times. Amazingly, I couldn’t find arugula in our largest grocery store! Driving all around the city on icy roads in cold weather to see if other stores carried arugula would be just plain silly. I had fresh spinach, two bags in fact, in my fridge at home so I made the choice to substitute the spinach for the arugula.
The recipe itself was a bit confusing; reading the directions it seemed like she was making a warm pasta dish to eat immediately. It didn’t say to chill it after it was made. But the pretty picture of the salad so carefully decorated in a trifle dish said it was made ahead and served cold.
I chose to do the make ahead and serve cold version. A warm lemon pasta dish with spinach and cherry tomatoes seemed too odd to serve for dinner. But I could totally imagine it as a cold side dish served with some kind of meat.
In a large nonstick skillet I added the cream, chicken broth and juice of 2 lemons and their zest, I added garlic powder, salt and pepper and stirred it well. I let it come to a boil, then reduced the heat to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes. The recipe said to let it simmer on low and it would thicken.
While that simmered away on the stove I cut the cherry tomatoes in half and set them aside. I also chopped the fresh spinach a bit so it there weren’t huge pieces of spinach stuck in the salad.
I brought a pot of salted water to a boil and added the pasta to the pot. I set the timer for al dente, as suggested on the package.
When the pasta was done I drained it and added it to the lemon sauce, which hadn’t thickened noticeably in the 15 minutes. I stirred the pasta and let it absorb the sauce, which took about 5 minutes.
I let the pasta sit and cool for 15 minutes before I added the spinach and tomatoes. I didn’t want them to wilt or get soggy from the heat.
I added a good pinch of red pepper flakes to replace the peppery flavor I was missing by not having arugula in the salad.
Finally I added the frozen peas and stirred a final time.
Veggies successfully added and stirred well, I stored the salad in a covered container in the fridge until dinner the next evening. We thought it was a superb pasta salad, very different from the usual mayo concoctions I usually make. The cream and broth make it creamy and a little rich, but the most amazing taste was from the lemon juice and zest.
I wouldn’t have guessed the pasta salad would taste so fresh and light with the addition of lemon. The slight heat from the red pepper flakes gave the right kick the missing arugula would have given the salad. We loved the flavors.
The salad was equally good leftover for a few days. I thought adding some flaked tuna to the salad would make it pretty interesting, and indeed it did for lunch one day. Lemon with tuna is always a good match. The tuna made it a complete light lunch for me. I think the salad will become one of our regular rotations for summer. I hope everyone who repinned the recipe on Pinterest tries it!
Lemon Pasta Salad
16 oz package of pasta; cooked al dente according to package directions
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken broth
1-2 lemons (juice and zest)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
½-1 bag of baby arugula (I used spinach)
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
10 oz package of frozen peas, thawed
Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions.
In a large nonstick skillet, add cream, broth, lemon juice and zest, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower heat. Simmer sauce for about 15 minutes. It will reduce and start to thicken.
Add the pasta to the sauce and cook for several minutes until most of the sauce is absorbed.
Add the vegetables and cheese. Refrigerate overnight and serve chilled.
May also be served immediately, warm.
Adapted from Extraordinary and Dynamic Lifestyles