Lemony Spring Pasta Salad (vegan + nut-free) - The First Mess
Lemony Spring Pasta Salad (vegan + nut-free) - The First Mess

Spring holiday get-togethers! Spending time with the fam is great, but sometimes wrangling a good plate of vegan or just wholesome plant-based food at these dinners can be… difficult. Generally these holidays feature meat as the centrepiece (plus dairy, eggs, and possible allergens as supporting roles), and hosts already have so many balls in the air getting ready for these feasts. Maybe the thought of telling your aunt about your dietary status is making you a bit nervous, but you also just want to sit at the table and enjoy a plate with your people. It’s a lot! Listen, I got you.

I always try to bring something that will fill out most of my bases for total satiety. Something with carbs, plant-based protein, vegetables, and most importantly FLAVOUR. I try to make it look super pretty too so that people will try it, even if they don’t have a dietary consideration in play. I also keep the dish nut-free and gluten-free adaptable for other attendees of the gathering.

Generally the host appreciates that you want to help out with dinner and it lifts a double burden: 1) your own worries that you might be an annoyance, and 2) the one on the host who is probably concerned that you won’t feel included because allergen-friendly food may not be in their wheelhouse. Be proactive and lift that burden!

I fixed up this spring pasta salad with that relief-inducing potluck dinner option in mind. It’s familiar (lemony, PASTA), vibrant and vegetable-filled, delicious, seasonal, seriously filling, and quite simple to fix up. It’s also very make-ahead friendly. Once I get a couple scoops of this on my plate along with a helping of the obligatory green salad, I’m good to go :) I include lots of modifications in the recipe as well if you want to go in a different direction. Hope everyone is set up for a nice holiday weekend! Catch ya on here soon.

Lemony Spring Pasta Salad (vegan + nut-free) - The First Mess
Lemony Spring Pasta Salad (vegan + nut-free) - The First Mess
Lemony Spring Pasta Salad (vegan + nut-free) - The First Mess


Print the recipe here!
SERVES: 6-10, depending on other dinner components
NOTES: I tried to keep the ingredients on the minimal side here, but you could add lots of cool ingredients to this if you have them around. Ideas: 2 tablespoons of capers chopped up, handful of fresh dill chopped up, 2 sticks of celery finely sliced, or even a small bulb of fennel shaved up nice and thin.
-This will be great with whatever pasta you like (regular, gluten-free, chickpea-based etc), just as long as you keep the shape small and toss it in most of the dressing immediately after draining.

1 ½ teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ small shallot, chopped
2 teaspoons maple syrup (or honey/agave)
¾ teaspoon Dijon mustard
sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup neutral-flavoured oil (I like avocado)

¾ lb asparagus, woody ends trimmed
1 cup shelled green peas (fresh or frozen)
1 lb small pasta (I used a mini penne, but orzo, small rotini, baby shells, or orecchiette are all good)
1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (from approximately 1 can), drained & rinsed
3 green onions, finely sliced
6-7 radishes, finely sliced into half moons
½ cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Make the lemony dressing. In an upright blender, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, shallot, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and oil. Blend the mixture on high until creamy and unified. Set aside.

Place a large bowl of ice water on the counter.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Chop the asparagus into 2-inch lengths and add to the boiling water. Boil the asparagus for 2 minutes, or until it’s just starting to become tender. Add the peas to the water and stir for a few seconds, or until they turn bright green. Using a slotted spoon, transfer all of the asparagus and peas to the ice water. Let the vegetables sit and chill down.

Bring the salted water back up to a boil. Add the pasta and another good pinch of salt. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Once cooked, drain the pasta thoroughly and then immediately transfer it to a large bowl. Add the chickpeas to the bowl as well. Quickly toss the pasta and chickpeas with two thirds of the lemony dressing until everything is coated.

Drain the asparagus and peas thoroughly and add them to the bowl with the pasta, along with the green onions, radishes, parsley, the remaining lemony dressing, some salt, and pepper. Toss to combine. Check the pasta for seasoning and adjust if necessary (more salt, pepper, lemon juice, extra herbs etc). Finished spring pasta salad will keep up to 5 days in the refrigerator in a sealed container.

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