Served cold or at room temperature, Greek Yogurt Asparagus Pepper Pasta Salad is bound to be a new family favourite. Creamy, zingy, and cheesy, this salad is one you will want to make over and over again!
GREEK YOGURT ASPARAGUS PEPPER PASTA SALAD
Isn’t this a gorgeous pasta salad? I love pasta salads prepared with Greek yogurt rather than mayonnaise. The flavour is incredible and I love the little zing. You can get a similar flavour profile with sour cream. For my Greek Yogurt Asparagus Pepper Pasta Salad, I used yogurt to keep it lighter.
And, just look at those bright, crisp veggies! I used locally grown, Ontario asparagus, along with colourful yellow and orange bell peppers. Of course, you can use red or green peppers too. In an effort to showcase the bright green asparagus, I opted to not use green bell peppers.
When I prepare a pasta salad with perfectly al dente pasta, and crunchy fresh vegetables, I tend to miss a chewy factor. That’s why oftentimes I add sun dried tomatoes to my pasta salads. Not only does it add to the texture, the flavour of sun dried tomatoes is so concentrated and they create big bursts of flavour in almost every bite.
Unlike most pasta salads, this one does require a little bit of cooking. Those veggies you see are not raw. I did cook them lightly with garlic to heighten both the flavour and of course, the colour. Are you ready for this?
DON’T MESS WITH FRESH ASPARAGUS!
Dear Reader, I have said this so many times, I’m about to get it printed on a t-shirt. When you prepare a dish that is made up of a few ingredients, try to use the best and freshest you can find. (Especially if your budget permits!) Asparagus is certainly one of those veggies!
Out of season, those little green spears of deliciousness can be quite expensive. I tend to cook with asparagus only in late spring and early summer. That’s when they are at the height of harvesting season. If I can pay less than $5 for a bunch of asparagus, it’s a good day!
I’ve had some readers ask if previously published asparagus recipes could be made with canned or jarred asparagus. The answer is no. I won’t even buy those! In my opinion, there’s no substitute for fresh asparagus. With that said, if you can’t get it in season, or if it’s not in your budget, skip it. Replace it with something else. This salad will still be extraordinary.
CHOOSING ANOTHER VEGGIE OPTION
Let’s pretend fresh asparagus is not an option for you. Don’t fret, my dear, there are so many viable options. My first go-to for this salad should the day come that I can’t get asparagus, would be zucchini. In fact, I love zucchini in a pasta salad. Wash it, and cut it into cubes and toss it in. It will be delicous.
I’m going to try to keep these veggie options green to mimic the look of the asparagus. There’s no mimicking the flavour, so let’s not aim for that. I would also consider using broccoli. If you’ve not had broccoli in a pasta salad, try my Picnic Pasta Salad or my Chopped Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad.
Fresh green beans would be a great substitute as well. The can be cut into lengths like an asparagus spear. And, they have roughly the same cooking time too. Oh, and we can’t forget, much like asparagus, green beans also have that crunch factor. If they don’t have a little crunch left, they’re overcooked.
Someone once told me that I prepare pasta like an old Italian grandma. That has stuck we me for so many years. You see, Dear Reader, I’m far from perfect, but cooking pasta is one thing I can certainly do perfectly. I don’t care what the back of the pasta package says, cook your pasta according to taste and texture. Ignore everything else. Here are my 4 steadfast rules:
Rule #1: Say no to oil!
Do you add oil to your pasta water before adding the pasta? Stop that right now! I don’t know who’s responsible for that, but I have seen some TV chefs do it! If you add oil to your pasta water, do you know what happens when you put the sauce on it? The sauce won’t stick as well as it should. It will slide off, because the oil prevents it from sticking.
Rule #2: Add extra salt!
Salt the water. I used to be so afraid of salting pasta water, because I thought it would be too salty to eat. Salting the water, before you add the pasta, is the only chance you get to season that pasta. Let the water come to full boil before adding your salt. The water should taste like the ocean.
Don’t dump the salt in; stir it in. Preventing the salt from settling at the bottom of your pot will keep your pot looking shiny and new. If you have pots with what looks like a tarnished or unpolished interior bottom, it’s because salt sat at the bottom of your pot.
Rule #3: Get that pasta moving about immediately!
Lastly, stir the pasta for a good minute when you first add it to the water. This helps to wash off some of the starch and prevents the pasta from sticking to the pot and to itself. I always pull out a piece of pasta 4 minutes before the package says it will be ready. Taste it. Chew it. It shouldn’t be completely soft. If it has a bit of bite left in the center, get it out of the water and drain it immediately. You can thank me later!
Rule #4: Do not rinse!
So many of us are tempting to rinse pasta under running water after it’s been drained. I think it comes from the notion that it gets rid of starch. Well, it does in a way. But, when pasta begins to cool off and dry a bit, it comes a little sticky. That stickiness soaks up pasta sauce, so don’t flush it out!
A quick drain is all you need. Get the pasta into a bowl or onto a plate. Get the sauce on it and serve it up. If you are one of those people that rinses pasta so that it doesn’t get sticky, hold off on cooking it until your sauce is ready. That way, it won’t have time to get stick before you plate it up!
LET ME TIE THIS THING UP!
I’m being quite wordy today, Dear Reader. (Or is it bossy? John.e would say I’m being bossy!) What can I say? I’m really passionate about properly cooked pasta! And, I’m really passionate about this Greek Yogurt Asparagus Pepper Pasta Salad! I’m sure you will be too.
Greek Yogurt Asparagus Pepper Pasta Salad
- 450 grams pasta, cooked and drained (reserve 1/2 cup pasta water)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bunch asparagus, 12-14 spears, washed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch strips
- 1 large orange bell pepper, cut into 1 inch strips
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
- 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes, optional
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup pasta water
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the garlic in the olive oil until light golden and fragrant.
- Add the asparagus, red and orange bell peppers, salt, and ground black pepper. Toss to combine and cook for 2 minutes.
- In the meantime, whisk together the Greek yogurt and pasta water.
- Next, add the sun dried tomatoes, oregano, basil, and dried red chili flakes, and the yogurt and water mixture. Stir to combine with the other ingredients.
- Add the cooked pasta and toss to combine. Cook together for 1-2 minutes.
- Remove from the heat. Add the chopped parsley and half of the parmesan cheese. Stir into the pasta and vegetables.
- Add the remaining parmesan cheese and toss once again.
- Serve immediately or cover and transfer to fridge to cool completely. Stir well before serving.