Spring Pasta Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Spring Pasta Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

This salad is spring in a bowl: the thinly-sliced radishes and green onions combine with the salty cheese, toasty almonds and creamy dressing – resulting in a most satisfying and balanced lunch. You could use a vegetable peeler to get nice, thin slices of the ricotta salata or simply crumble it for a more rustic salad. English peas aren’t in season here yet, but I think a handful folded in at the end of this salad would be pretty wonderful, too.


For the dressing:

1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup Greek yogurt

For the salad:

1 cup sliced almonds
¾ pound whole-wheat fusilli or penne pasta (or your favorite shape)
1 pound asparagus, tough ends removed
2 ounces / 3 cups baby arugula, long stems removed
1 small bunch spring radishes, thinly-sliced (about 1 cup)
3 tablespoons thinly-chopped green onions (about 2 green onions)
4 ounces ricotta salata, shaved or crumbled
2 tablespoons fresh chives (or 2 teaspoons dried chives)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the almonds out onto a small rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant and golden, 6-8 minutes.

Make the dressingIn the bowl of a food processor (or blender) combine the avocado, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and a few grinds of pepper. Process until smooth. Add the yogurt at the end and process until combined. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside to cool.

While the pasta is cooking, fill a bowl with ice water. Heat a large pot of water over medium-high heat and simmer the asparagus until just crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove asparagus from pot and place in ice bath to stop the cooking. Place cooled asparagus spears on clean surface, towel dry, and slice into 2-inch pieces.

In a large salad bowl, combine the cooked pasta, asparagus and 3/4 cup of the toasted almonds along with the arugula, radishes, green onion, ricotta salata, chives, salt and pepper. Fold in the avocado dressing and toss to combine. Serve at room temperature sprinkling each bowl with a pinch of the remaining toasted almonds. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 days.