Lemony Spring Pasta Salad (vegan + nut-free) - The First Messpin it!
Lemony Spring Pasta Salad (vegan + nut-free) - The First Messpin it!
Lemony Spring Pasta Salad (vegan + nut-free) - The First Messpin it!
Lemony Spring Pasta Salad (vegan + nut-free) - The First Messpin it!

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 Messpin it!
Lemony Spring Pasta Salad (vegan + nut-free) - The First Messpin it!
Lemony Spring Pasta Salad (vegan + nut-free) - The First Messpin it!
Lemony Spring Pasta Salad (vegan + nut-free) - The First Messpin it!


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.

  • Jauquetta17/04/2019 - 4:16 am

    This looks positively yummy! All the things i love. Will put this on my list of recipes to try very soon. I’m gluten free and dairy free, the last for 38 yrs! Such a wonderful sounding dressing, too! Thank you for sharing.ReplyCancel

    • Laura17/04/2019 - 11:55 am

      Thank you for this comment, Jauquetta! Hope that you give this a try :)

  • Anne17/04/2019 - 9:06 am

    This recipe looks great to take to Easter celebrations as my WFPB offering. Do you have a suggestion for making the dressing oil-free? Thanks advance.ReplyCancel

    • Laura17/04/2019 - 9:57 am

      Hi Anne,
      My go-to substitution would be to soak about 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds for about 2 hours. Drain the seeds and put them in the blender along with about 1/4 cup water to start. Add all of the other non-oil ingredients and blend on high, adding more water if necessary to get everything moving. Once it’s creamy and smooth, give it a taste and add more lemon/zest/salt etc to your liking. The dressing will be more on the creamy end, but will still work nicely for the pasta salad I think. Also, you may have a bit more dressing than you need (you kind of have to make a minimum amount when dealing with nut/seed-based dressings made in a blender). You need about 3/4 cup of dressing for this recipe total.

      • Anne19/04/2019 - 2:15 pm

        Thanks, Laura. Sounds good to me.ReplyCancel

    • Jen Zetina19/04/2019 - 11:44 am

      I would replace the oil for water and use Xantham gum. (Probably start with 1/4 tsp)ReplyCancel

  • Marcy youker17/04/2019 - 9:31 am

    Love it, love it, you have the best recipes, thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Emily Frigon17/04/2019 - 9:38 am

    I’m going to a brunch on Saturday and have been brainstorming what to bring. This is going to be perfect, thanks Laura!ReplyCancel

    • Laura17/04/2019 - 11:54 am

      Hope that you and your people love it! :D

  • Alina17/04/2019 - 11:47 am

    I can’t wait to try making this pasta salad! The grocery stores near me are overflowing with asparagus at the moment.ReplyCancel

    • Laura17/04/2019 - 11:55 am

      That sounds like heaven! Still waiting for the super good homegrown stuff here ;)

  • […] I adapted it (based on what I had handy in the fridge) from The First Mess’s recipe for Lemony Spring Pasta Salad with Vegetables & Herbs. […]ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn20/04/2019 - 4:16 am

    Made this for dinner last night, as a hot pasta dish and it was delicious! The dressing was wicked good and flavorful and i loved that there were as many veggies as pasta!ReplyCancel

  • Anne Van Acker20/04/2019 - 4:43 pm

    I caught this recipe at just the right time- going to an Easter dinner tomorrow and I’m the only vegetarian at the table. I just finished making this, and it tastes so good- and I’m sure it will taste even better tomorrow! I’m quite sure everyone else will love it, too. My only minor substitution was tiny wedge-shaped slices of watermelon radish for the regular radishes – the color looks great in this salad!ReplyCancel

  • Suzanne21/04/2019 - 12:01 am

    Just made this for Easter lunch tomorrow and had to do a taste test of course….it is delicious! Thanks for the recipe!ReplyCancel

  • Katie22/04/2019 - 7:32 am

    Made this for Easter yesterday- we all (including my 17-month old) loved it! Might add some more herbs to the leftover- maybe basil, to complement the lemon.ReplyCancel

  • Corrie Duffy23/04/2019 - 12:51 pm

    I was on a diet control program and so I came across this recipe which seemed perfect for my diet. I made it and loved it. The second time, I added chicken sausages to it. The third time, I was short of asparagus, so I put broccoli into it. All the times it was awesome due to magical lemon sauce.ReplyCancel

  • Tiana Miller-Leonard24/04/2019 - 10:12 pm

    Made this with a few tweaks and it was sooooo delicious! trying to go a little lower cal so I cut the oil in half and used 1/4 cup water in the sauce, and used chickpea pasta (surprisingly good!). also added dill and sundried tomatoes! that lemony sauce is amazing and loooove the high vegetable to pasta ratioReplyCancel

  • Kimber22/05/2019 - 7:20 am

    Hi! I had a small dinner party and made this yesterday. I used olive oil and the lemon sauce was bitter? I made a second batch and excluded the zest, used vegetable oil and added a little almond milk which helped. The final batch was tasty, no zest meant a more mild flavor. Any other recommendations? And everyone enjoyed it.ReplyCancel

    • Laura22/05/2019 - 7:46 am

      Hi Kimber,
      Did you grate any of the white pith below the lemon peel with your zest? It’s incredibly bitter tasting and could be the reason why you experienced this. I always use a Microplane to get just the top layer of lemon peel and none of the white pith. Other than this, I can’t imagine what else would account for the bitter flavour. It’s possible that your olive oil had a naturally bitter/peppery flavour as well that was more pronounced since the oil takes up a large volume of the dressing. Have you tasted the oil alone before cooking with it? Hope that this answer is at least a little bit helpful.
      Thanks for your comment!

  • Jana11/06/2019 - 5:12 am

    Hi Laura!
    I made this salad this weekend for a family BBQ and it went down a treat! I’m from Germany and normally pasta or potato salads are very mayonnaise-heavy, not vegan-friendly at all. Everyone, even my very sceptical dad, loved it. I made a big batch hoping for leftovers for the week but it was all gone by the end of the day. :)
    I added a few handful of basil both to the dressing and the salad and subbed half of the oil for water – delicious. Definitely think this will become a BBQ salad staple!
    – JanaReplyCancel

  • Lauren24/06/2019 - 6:19 pm

    It’s no longer spring, but I made this last night and it was delicious! We made a double batch to have lunch for a few days, and I’m so glad we did! I somehow ended up forgetting to buy a shallot, so I subbed a bit of garlic and a little onion powder in the dressing. I also used half the amount of oil and increased the lemon juice and other ingredients to get the same volume. It was still a bit oily for my taste, I think I’ll try your sunflower seed tip next time! Overall it was delicious and a combination of veggies and herbs I don’t usually put together. Thanks for the recipe!ReplyCancel

  • Suzanne11/01/2020 - 4:59 pm

    This looks delicious! Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

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