The ingredients that you add to a pasta salad can be as varied as the shapes of pasta that you use. Replace the crab, shrimp and asparagus in this recipe with shredded, poached chicken and thawed petite peas, or experiment with your own combinations of meat, poultry or seafood and vegetables.
Recipe courtesy of Williams-Sonoma
- 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 pound penne, fusilli or tubetti
- 1 1/2 tablespoons asparagus, tough ends trimmed and spears cut into pieces
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- Pinch of freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 pound fresh lump crabmeat, picked over for shell fragments
- 1/4 pound cooked small shrimp
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 small head green- or red-leaf lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
- 1 COOK THE PASTA AND ASPARAGUS: Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the 2 tablespoons salt and the pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the pasta is al dente (tender but firm to the bite), according to the package instructions.
- 2 About 4 minutes before the pasta is done, add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook until crisp-tender. Drain the pasta and asparagus, rinse under cold running water and drain again.
- 3 MAKE THE DRESSING: Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the garlic, vinegar, mustard, mayonnaise, the 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil until smooth. Add the pasta and asparagus to the dressing and toss to coat evenly.
- 4 ASSEMBLE THE SALAD: Add the crabmeat (breaking it up slightly), shrimp and tarragon to the pasta and toss to combine. Arrange the lettuce on individual plates, top with the pasta salad and serve immediately.