Welcome spring with this Shrimp Pasta Primavera Salad! Packed with asparagus and snap peas, it’s perfect for a light dinner or picnic lunch.
Spring has most decidedly sprung around here and I’m celebrating with this Shrimp Pasta Primavera Pasta Salad. Primavera means “spring” in Italian and also refers to a pasta dish filled with springtime vegetables.
Pasta salad in any form has been a favorite meal of mine since I was a kid. Now that I'm the main cook in the house, I love the versatility of a great pasta salad and the ease of putting it together. I'll often make pasta for an easy dinner in the summertime, but it's also fantastic as part of a Mother's Day brunch or Father's Day celebration, as the easy-to-pack star of a picnic or as a make-ahead potluck dish for a summertime barbecue.
WHAT YOU NEED FOR THIS SHRIMP PASTA PRIMAVERA SALAD RECIPE
- Pasta: I used whole wheat orzo pasta, which can be found at some health food stores or online. Regular orzo works, too. Feel free to substitute other pasta shapes, such as rotini or farfalle.
- Shrimp: Buy fresh or frozen (defrosted) raw shrimp and remove the shells and tails. Some raw shrimp come deveined. If not, use a paring knife to remove the dark blue vein along the back side of the shrimp.
- Asparagus: Remove the tough bottom portion of each asparagus stalk. To do this, hold the stalk in both hand and bend it near the bottom until it naturally breaks off.
- Snap Peas: Use a paring knife to trim the snap peas. Cut off one end of the snap pea without cutting all the way through and pull down to pull of the vein running along the edge of the pea. Do the same with the other end and the vein on the other side of the snap pea.
- Herbs: Fresh herbs are a fantastic way to add flavor to any salad. Basil, mint and parsley do the trick for this pasta salad.
- Dressing ingredients: This easy dressing is made of fresh lemon juice, agave nectar (or honey), salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil. To squeeze the juice from the lemons, I use this handy dandy citrus squeezer.
Tips for making this healthy pasta salad
In this primavera pasta salad, I use one of my favorite veggie cooking tricks. Instead of cooking the snap peas and asparagus in a separate saucepan (more dishes!), I throw them into the pasta water in the last couple of minutes of cooking the orzo.
Drain everything (pasta and veggies) in a colander (affiliate link) and immediately rinse with cold water to stop the veggies from cooking further.
Since the asparagus stalks need slightly more cooking time than the asparagus tips, I cook them for 2 minutes, then add the tips and snap peas halfway through. Perfect, tender crisp, bright green veggies every time.
Whisk the dressing while the pasta and veggies are cooking, then toss everything together with the seared shrimp and fresh herbs.
Can this be made ahead of time?
The salad can be made a couple of hours in advance. If you're doing so, add three-quarters of the dressing when you first make the salad, then add the remaining dressing just before serving the pasta salad to give it an extra burst of freshness since the pasta will absorb most of the dressing while it rests.
Other healthy springtime recipes
Shrimp Pasta Primavera Salad Recipe
- In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp with the olive oil, salt and pepper until coated. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the shrimp until just cooked through, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a plate. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan, cook the orzo according to package directions. Two minutes before the orzo is done cooking, add the asparagus stalk pieces to the saucepan. After 1 minute, add the asparagus tips and snap peas. Drain the orzo, asparagus and snap peas into a colander and immediately rinse well with cold water. Transfer to a serving bowl.
- Stir in the cooked shrimp, parsley, mint, basil and dressing. Toss to coat. Serve.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, agave, salt and pepper. While whisking, slowly pour in the olive oil. Whisk until combined.
This post was originally published on April 17, 2017 and updated on March 10, 2020.
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