I love this time of year – the weather’s warming up, school’s almost out, and summer is just around the corner! And since I know that we’ll be retreating to the A/C as soon as July hits here in Texas, I try to take advantage of our beautiful May and June weather for picnics!
Just like our simple camping menu, our family picnics are usually pretty basic – I toss some sliced cheese, crackers, raw veggies, fruit, and nuts into my basket and we head to the park. But, more often than not, this means requests for more food the minute we get home.
I’ve learned it helps to whip up a simple, yet satisfying dish to help everyone feel like they’ve had enough to eat, and keep me from having to make another meal once we’re back at the house! Make ahead recipes like Brussels Sprouts Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing, Best Summer Slaw, and Perfect Potato Salad all fit the bill, and now I can add this frugal Spring Vegetable Pasta Salad to the list!
Spring Vegetable Pasta Salad
Whether you’re making this Spring Vegetable Pasta Salad for a Memorial Day party, a simple family picnic, or an easy weeknight dinner, you’re going to love that it comes together in about 30 minutes and cooks in one pan!
And really, who doesn’t need a few good 30 minute meals in their dinner arsenal?
I also love that it can be made ahead of time and refrigerated, then served cold or reheated and served warm! My family has eaten it hot and cold and like it both ways.
This pea and pasta salad is also easy to adapt to your family’s preferences – here are a few ideas:
- Add or sub in any quick-cooking vegetable (spinach or roasted red peppers both come to mind)
- Add in fresh herbs for extra flavor
- Swap the Parmesan for cheddar or another favorite cheese
- Use shell, spiral, or orzo pasta in place of the penne
- 8 oz bacon, cut into ½-1" strips
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 3 cups chicken stock/broth (homemade if you can)
- 8 oz dry penne or other small pasta
- 1½ cup frozen English peas
- Tips from 1 bunch of asparagus
- ½ cup sour cream or creme fraiche
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Grated Parmesan to serve
- In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Transfer cooked bacon to a plate, leaving drippings in the pan.
- Add the pressed garlic to the pan hot bacon drippings and cook, stirring often, 1-2 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the dry pasta. Reduce heat to low-medium, cover skillet, and cook until al dente (8-10 min).
- Add the frozen peas and asparagus tips. Cook for a few minutes until both are bright green and al dente.
- Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste.
- Gently stir in sour cream and cooked bacon. Season with additional sea salt and pepper if needed.
- Top with grated Parmesan just before serving.
Recipe adapted from Taste and Tell
Spring Vegetable Pasta Salad Cost Breakdown
- Bacon: $5.49
- Garlic: $0.30
- Chicken stock/broth: $0.09 if you use Tiffany’s homemade slow cooker chicken stock recipe
- Pasta: $1.00
- Peas: $0.92
- Asparagus: $1.99
- Sour cream: $0.51
- Salt/pepper: $0.02
- Parmesan: $0.88
Total cost for this frugal Spring Vegetable Pasta Salad is $11.19. That’s $2.80 per serving if you serve it as a main dish, or $1.40 per serving as a side dish!
Affordable, easy, and delicious – a guaranteed crowd pleaser at your next picnic or pot luck!
What are your favorite make ahead picnic recipes?
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