This post is a part of a series I call Lovely Lady Lunch–where I take time, once a week, to make myself a real lunch. On the side, I might read a book, flip through a magazine, or watch something on YouTube. The idea is to enjoy a delicious lunch and just take a minute in the middle of the day to chill. I encourage you to share your lovely lady lunches on media using the tag #lovelyladylunch!
Hey! I’ve missed our Lovely Lady Lunches! The past few weeks have been crazy with visitors (my mom was here, then Megan came to visit!), and our household got hit hard with a stomach bug (ew). Needless to say, lady lunch took a backseat, but I finally got it together and made us something easy and springy to enjoy midday while reading or catching up on zee Netflix.
I love a cold pasta salad, something lightly dressed with lots of fun mix-ins, of course. This salad has a creamy base that comes from none other than mayonnaise (though, I suspect you could use a thick yogurt instead) that’s dressed up with lots of lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a clove of smashed garlic that just hangs in the dressing while everything else gets prepped before getting fished out, so we don’t breath garlicky dragon breath on our families and/or coworkers. For mix-ins, we have shredded, cooked chicken–I’m a fan of picking up a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket and just using that. Leftovers work, too! Then there are the peas and asparagus that get blanched in a pot of salted water, the same water you’ll use for cooking the pasta. The final touches are a sprankle of feta and a handful of chopped fresh herbs. I think any combo of soft herbs will do. I used parsley, chives, and tarragon, but really, just follow your heart!
- 6 asparagus stalks
- ¼ cup frozen (or fresh, shelled) peas
- 4 ounces dried pasta (like farfalle or other short pasta)
- 1 lemon
- 1 clove garlic, lightly crushed
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1½ cups shredded, cooked chicken
- 1-2 ounces crumbled feta
- 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (like parsley, tarragon, chives, and/or basil)
- Trim the tough ends off the asparagus and discard. Cut the stalks into ½ inch pieces. Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil, add a big pinch of salt. While the water boils, prep an ice bath in a bowl, fit a fine mesh strainer over the bowl so it rests in the water bath. Blanch the asparagus for 60-90 seconds, until bright green. Using a slotted spoon, remove the asparagus from the boiling water and place in the mesh strainer over the ice bath. Repeat the blanching process with the peas. Drain the vegetables and set aside. Add the pasta to the boiling pot and cook according to package instructions.
- While the pasta cooks, zest the lemon and add to a large mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the bowl, along with the garlic. Whisk in the mayonnaise. Remove the garlic clove from the dressing. Add the chicken and blanched vegetables to the dressing. Drain the pasta and rinse under cool water, drain well and add to the bowl with the dressing. Toss to coat the chicken, vegetables, and pasta well with the dressing. Gently fold in the feta and herbs. Serve immediately or chilled.