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Side Dishes

Quick + Delicious Asparagus Pasta Salad Recipe: Our Tasty Trick Takes It Over The Top

Learn the secret to the best (and easiest) homemade dressing ever

For me, pasta salads are the quintessential summer side. They’re cool, refreshing and you can customize them with all sorts of delicious ingredients. While bottled dressings are an easy way to add fast flavor, a homemade vinaigrette can elevate this warm-weather staple to a picnic-perfect treat. The easy secret to the dressing for our Asparagus Pasta Salad recipe makes it extra-special. Best of all, this dish speeds to the table in just 30 minutes.

Drying tomatoes intensifies flavor. We use sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil. The tomatoes infuse the oil with tangy flavor. Then, instead of draining the tomatoes and discarding all that goodness, we use it to create a zesty drizzle. White balsamic vinegar has a crisp fruity finish. When combined with the tomato oil, the zingy-sweet result is the perfect complement to our colorful toss. You’ll love how easily this dish comes together. Tell us all about it in the comments!


6 servings

Total Time

Prep Time

Cook Time


  • 8 oz. penne pasta
  • 2/3 cup drained sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped, 1/4 cup oil reserved
  • 3 Tbs. white balsamic
  • 1/2 cup diced ham, 2 oz.
  • 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed cut into 2” pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 cups baby spinach, 2 oz.
  • 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan, 1 1/2 oz.
  • 2 Tbs. pine nuts, lightly toasted



In pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions; drain. In large bowl, whisk tomato oil and vinegar; reserve.

Coat nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Over medium heat, cook ham until browned, 8 min.; remove. Add asparagus; cook until tender, about 5 min., adding garlic during last 30 sec. Add pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, ham, asparagus, spinach, and 1/2 cup Parmesan to bowl with dressing; toss until coated. Top with remaining Parmesan and pine nuts.


  • Calories: 325 kcal
  • Fat: 17 gram
  • Saturated Fat: 4 gram
  • Protein: 12 gram
  • Carbohydrate: 34 gram
  • Fiber: 3 gram
  • Cholesterol: 12 mg
  • Sugar: 2 gram
  • Sodium: 347 mg
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