Saturday, January 24, 2009

Meyer Lemon Pasta Salad with Asparagus, Almonds and Goat Cheese

Based on the ingredients in this salad at The Kitchn, I thought it would be tasty (of course, or else I wouldn't have made it!). But, upon taking a bite, I realized it was completely transcendent. I haven't involuntarily moaned over a non-dessert food in a while! It was seriously that good. The asparagus was sweet and perfectly cooked; the grains and couscous were nutty and chewy, the goat cheese was creamy, and the Meyer lemon dressing gave everything a bright pop of flavor. Even though I was making something else for dinner (this was destined for packed lunches), I couldn't resist several spoonfuls!

For lunch the next day, the salad was perfectly tasty but definitely not quite so irresistible. So, I would recommend making this just before eating, or perhaps packaging the dressing and cheese separately and tossing everything together just before eating. You can also experiment with other grains; the original recipe called for farro or spelt, which I think would have been delicious but weren't in my grocery's bulk bins. Definitely do go for the creamiest, yummiest goat cheese as that really makes a difference.

Meyer Lemon Pasta Salad with Asparagus, Almonds and Goat Cheese (adapted from The Kitchn, original recipe here)
Serves 2

2 ounces wheat berries
4 ounces pearl couscous
5-6 cups simmering chicken stock
1/2 pound asparagus
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 ounces creamy goat cheese, crumbled
Zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon
3 T olive oil

1. Set up your stove so that you have the wheat berries in one small pot, the simmering water or chicken stock in another, and the couscous in a saute pan. Cook the wheat berries as you would risotto, adding simmering liquid by the 1/2 cupful, waiting for each addition to be absorbed before adding the next. Meanwhile, toast the couscous in a dry saute pan until lightly browned. Then, cook it the same way as the wheat berries. When the couscous and wheat berries are nicely tender and they have absorbed the liquid, transfer them to a large bowl (the wheat berries will take longer to cook).

2. Trim the asparagus and cut into 1-inch pieces. Heat some olive oil in saute pan until shimmering and add the asparagus, along with a healthy grind of black pepper. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until nicely tender but not mushy. Add to the bowl with the grains.

3. To the grains and asparagus, add the almonds, goat cheese, and lemon zest. Toss to combine.

4. Whisk together the lemon juice and the olive oil in a small bowl. Drizzle over the salad and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Don't forget to check out some other awesome pasta recipes from Erin of The Skinny Gourmet in this week's Presto Pasta Nights round-up, which will be posted this Friday. You can also find out more about Presto Pasta Nights here and check out the original host, Ruth, at Once Upon a Feast.


  1. This pasta salad sounds really good. It would be nice and creamy with the goat cheese.

  2. This sounds really good! I love asparagus in pasta dishes.

  3. It sounds and looks delicious. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

  4. My mom just told me today she has to make a pasta salad for some event. Kismet! I'll send this one her way--and maybe try it myself. Asparagus anything, I'm there.

  5. This sounds wonderful and the dressing does sound like it has a pop! Yum.

  6. Hi Sara! This looks and sounds amazing. Thanks for the recipe :)

  7. What a great salad recipe! This dish sounds wonderful.


  8. Sara,
    this is amazing, I love meyer lemon and addition of goat cheese is just make this salad more delicious. It's so healthy too.

  9. Yum! this looks super flavorful. One of our favorite pasta recipes around the house is Mario batali's lemon pepper pasta (in which the pepper is a jalapeno)! I was delighted by how much I liked the tang of lemon in a pasta dish.

  10. This pasta salad sounds really good.

    wheat berries

  11. How much farro? I don't see it in the ingredients list.

    The recipe sounds delicious.

  12. @ Sarah: Whoops, that was an error on my part (it should read wheat berries). It should be fixed now, sorry! :)

  13. Saw this recipe on BSI - Pasta. Sounds fabulous. Some of my favortie ingredients - asparagus & goat cheese!