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Asparagus, Penne & Cashew Salad

Spring greens! This recipe, from Karin Nicholson of Seattle, is a great salad entrée for a spring lunch or buffet table.

serves 12

  • 11/2 pounds asparagus spears, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 11/2 pounds pasta, penne or rigatoni
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup green onions, sliced (about 1 bunch)
  • 6 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 6-ounce package baby spinach or mixed greens
  • 1 cup cashews, salted and roasted, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook asparagus in a large pot of boiling salted water just until tender, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or a spider, transfer asparagus to a colander and douse with cold water to cool them off. Set aside. Add pasta to same pot and cook just until tender, but still firm to the bite. Drain well. Transfer pasta to a very large bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cool.

Blend 1/2 cup olive oil, green onions, vinegar and soy sauce in a blender until smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour dressing over pasta. Add asparagus, spinach, cashews and sesame oil. Toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.