How to Make the 'Best Pasta Salad Ever'

Food & Wine Culinary Director at Large Justin Chapple makes his recipe for Greens Pasta Salad on this week’s episode of Mad Genius.

Pasta salad is one of those incredibly versatile, quick meals that we love to have in our back pockets for busy weeks. In this week's episode of Mad Genius, Justin Chapple prepares what he calls " the best pasta salad ever"—his recipe for Greens Pasta Salad. Instead of a mayonnaise-heavy dressing, he combines mayo with buttermilk and Champagne vinegar for tangy results. As for the greens component, arugula, peas, and asparagus come together to give the dish extra crunch and brightness. It's all ready in an hour and 15 minutes, so you can make it on a weeknight, a weekend, or whenever you have the time.

Read on for Justin's method and follow along with the video above.

Cook the Pasta

Justin uses one pound of campanelle pasta in this recipe, which should reach al dente after nine to 11 minutes of boiling (don't forget to salt that water). Drain the pasta once it's done and get it into a large bowl.

Make the Dressing

For the dressing, you'll need buttermilk—Justin prefers full-fat for maximum flavor, but you can use what's available to you—mayonnaise, Champagne vinegar (or Prosecco vinegar or white wine vinegar), one finely grated garlic clove, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Whisk together the buttermilk, mayo, vinegar, and garlic first, and then whisk in the salt and pepper. Toss half of the dressing with the warm pasta in the bowl, and let the mixture cool for 30 minutes.

Prep Your Greens

Meanwhile, trim and cut your asparagus and get it into the boiling water with the frozen peas (again, salt the water). Blanch them for two minutes until they're crisp-tender and then immediately get them into an ice bath. This will stop the cooking process and also help preserve the green color of the vegetables. Drain them once cooled completely, and coarsely chop your arugula as well so it's ready for the salad.

Greens Pasta Salad
© Con Poulos

Mix and Serve

Grab the dressed pasta and add the peas and asparagus to the bowl, tossing to mix. Then add the rest of the dressing and toss everything again, seasoning with salt and pepper. At this point, you can add the arugula, but be aware that it will start to wilt once mixed in, so if you're not planning on serving right away, hold off until right before you're ready to eat. After the arugula goes in, give everything one final mix and you're good to go.

"It's literally so delicious, I have to take another bite," Justin says.

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