This Creamy Lemony Vegetable Pasta Salad is my new favorite quick and easy weeknight dinner. The vegetables boil with the pasta in the water, meaning less time, effort, and fewer dishes (yay!).
The whole thing takes only 20 minutes to throw together, especially since the minimal amount of prep work can be done while the pasta and veggies cook. It’s dressed in a light, bright dressing made of lemon juice and zest, mayonnaise, garlic, and extra-virgin olive oil.
It’s so good, in fact, that I’m sitting here writing this post at 9 in the morning munching on the leftovers (which, by the way, hold up extremely well!).
This is the second time I’ve made this in two weeks. The first time, I used Banza chickpea pasta, which made it more hearty, higher in protein, gluten-free, and great for a full meal.
The second time, I made it as a side along Two-Ingredient Crispy Oven Baked BBQ Chicken for a fun visit from Zoey’s great-grandmother. I had to share this photo with you- it’s just too good. Four generations of Texans in one picture!
With veggie-packed recipes like this, I hope Zach and I will be healthy as we grow old and be able to appear in a photo like this with our great-grandchildren if we have them!
The best part about this recipe is how well the leftovers stay in the fridge. Often times, pre-made salads can get soggy over time, since any salt in the dressing will draw out the liquid from the vegetables.
Since almost all the veggies in this are already cooked, there is less liquid, and since it’s pasta-based, the noodles continue absorbing any liquid that’s released. It was just as good 3 days later as it was right after I made it!
Since the leftovers are so delicious, this creamy vegetable pasta salad recipe is a perfect thing to make for meal planning lunches all week. Make a batch and add some cooked chickpeas or white beans, chicken, shrimp, or other protein to make it a bit heartier.
Or, if you’re making this for a crowd, make it the day or two before and just take it out when you’re ready to serve. Straight from the fridge is fine since it’s best served cold.
I used broccoli, peas, corn, and arugula as the main vegetables in this. It would be delicious with asparagus, edamame, other leafy greens, green beans, zucchini or summer squash… there are so many yummy possibilities.
If you use a vegetable that takes longer to cook than the others, add it to the boiling pasta water before the others, as I did with the broccoli in the recipe below. Here’s a nifty chart that can help with figuring out times.
Here you go! Creamy Lemony Vegetable Pasta Salad. Hope you like it :-)
Creamy Lemony Vegetable Pasta Salad
- Large pot
- 1 lb. farfalle pasta or other medium shape- regular, whole wheat, chickpea, or any variety you like
- kosher salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- juice and zest of one lemon (about 2 tablespoons juice)
- 1 small garlic clove finely minced
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large head broccoli cut into small florets (about 4 cups)
- 5 oz. baby arugula or spinach, or a mixture of both, roughly chopped
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1/4 cup red onion finely diced
- 1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
- Cook the pasta as directed on the box in heavily salted boiling water.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the mayonnaise (3/4 cup), lemon zest and juice, garlic, and olive oil (1/4 cup) in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- 5 minutes before the pasta is finished cooking to al dente, add the broccoli florets to the water.
- 1 minute before the pasta is finished cooking to al dente, add the arugula and/or spinach, peas, and corn to the water.
- Drain the pasta and vegetables in a large colander and rinse with cold water until completely cooled (if it's still hot, it will absorb much of the dressing and the pasta salad will become dry). Shake off as much of the excess water as possible while it's in the colander.
- Add the drained and cooled pasta and vegetables to the bowl with the lemon mayonnaise dressing. Mix together with the chopped red onions and almonds. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to four days (see notes).
- This pasta salad holds up extremely well in the refrigerator. Use it for meal planning your lunch all week, adding chickpeas or white beans, cooked chicken, shrimp, or other kinds of protein to make it more hearty.
- Make ahead instructions: If you make this in advance, I recommend reserving half the dressing to mix in just before serving, since the pasta will absorb some of the dressing as it sits in the fridge.
- Make it vegan: use a vegan mayo.
- Make it gluten-free: use a GF or alternative pasta, such as Banza.
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.