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Chill out with lemony pasta salad

Recipe: Green beans, simple dressing keep salad light

Pasta salad in green bowl
Crunchy, smooth, zesty and cool: It's green bean
and lemon pasta salad. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

So here we are again, in "I don't want to turn on the stove" season. But we still have to eat. And fresh vegetables are so wonderful this time of year, the last of the spring produce overlapping with the first summer varieties.

This pasta salad, adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe, fits the bill for a light dinner side dish without too much cooking. Adjust the ingredients to suit personal tastes. Add some sliced grilled chicken or diced ham for an entree salad that keeps things cool.

Green bean and lemon pasta salad

Serves 4-6, easily doubled


6 to 8 ounces fresh green beans, yellow wax beans, or a combination

Coarse salt

8 to 12 ounces curvy dried pasta, such as cellentani, orecchiette or elbow macaroni

Grated zest of 1 lemon (Meyer or tart)

Juice of 1 large or 2 medium lemons (Meyer or tart)

Garlic scapes on a white cutting board
Garlic scapes are the flower stalks of hardneck garlic. The bulging
flower bud is trimmed off and the stalk can be used like scallions,
but with a mild garlic flavor.

3/8 cup or more extra virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

4 garlic scapes, trimmed and thinly sliced, or 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion or sliced chives

2 tablespoons, or more, toasted almonds, pine nuts or walnuts, finely chopped

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Mixed baby greens, for serving, optional


Prepare an ice-water bath by filling a large bowl halfway with ice cubes and adding enough water to float the ice.

Bring a 4-quart pot of salted water to boil. Trim the green beans and cut into 2-inch pieces. Blanch the green beans about 4 minutes, just until tender. Use a slotted spoon to remove the beans from the boiling water and add them to the ice-water bath to cool, then remove them to another bowl and reserve. Do not drain the boiling water from the pot on the stove.

Dressing being poured
Drizzle the lemon dressing over the salad.

Add the dried pasta to the boiling water and cook just to al dente texture. Drain the pasta, then spread it on a large rimmed baking sheet. Put the pan in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes, to cool the pasta, but not so long that the pasta becomes very cold. (The dressing will be absorbed better if the pasta is still room temperature.) Transfer the cooled pasta to the preferred serving dish, and stir in the green beans.

Whisk together the lemon juice, zest and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Season with black pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Taste; adjust seasonings.

Drizzle about half of the dressing over the salad and toss gently. Sprinkle the sliced scapes or chopped onion or chives over the pasta, followed by about half of the nuts and half the Parmesan cheese. Add more dressing to taste. Toss again.

To serve as a first-course salad, place a handful of mixed baby greens on each salad plate and spoon the pasta salad over the greens. Top each salad with some of the remaining nuts and Parmesan.

Alternately, pass the serving bowl of pasta salad with the rest of the nuts and Parmesan sprinkled on top as garnish.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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