Elegant and delicious, this salad will win raves. It’s usually the first pasta salad in the spring as local asparagus comes up in May. Add spring watercress, especially if you can find it growing locally in the wild, or substitute another spring green. This salad tastes and looks best on the day it’s made. Serves 6.
1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
12 ounces bowtie or other small-shaped pasta
1 pound asparagus, bottom 2 inches trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 – 2 cups watercress, washed, dried, and roughly chopped, or 1/3 cup minced parsley
1 cup feta cheese
Grated zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 400˚. Drain the artichokes, rinse well and cut them into quarters. Pat dry with paper towels and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toss the artichokes with 1 tablespoon of the oil and bake until edges begin to crisp, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Drain the pasta and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Shake strainer a few times to distribute the oil and let steam escape! Set aside to cool.
- Heat a heavy skillet or cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining tablespoon olive oil and the asparagus pieces. Cook asparagus until just crisp-tender, about 4 minutes, stirring often. Place in a bowl to cool.
- When the pasta and asparagus are cool, combine them with the watercress or parsley in a large bowl. To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, add dressing to the pasta and mix. Transfer the salad to a serving dish, and top with the roasted artichokes and feta cheese.