My bow tie pasta salad with lemon vinaigrette is a bright, flavorful, and refreshingly cool recipe to prepare during the sunny season. Made with vibrant peas, a crumble of feta cheese and fresh mint, this pasta salad is delicious as a snack or even a light meal!
A Pasta Salad Brimming with Bright, Sunny Flavors
Nothing beats a cool and refreshingly tangy pasta salad flecked with some delicate little morsels as the weather takes a turn for the warmer, and the days turn brighter...
Pasta salad has always seemed like a playful dish to me, one that invites creativity when adding a touch of this and a hint of that to create a light and refreshing meal fit for those vibrant sunshine-filled days.
I love pasta salad and have a number of recipes for them here on the site which make use of tiny ditalini pasta, or elbow macaroni, or even spaghetti. But since I've yet to use bow tie pasta (or farfalle) in a "cozy" recipe, I thought I should get right to it and toss together a little something with refreshing and zippy ingredients.
Lemon is a personal favorite flavor profile of mine when it comes to pasta salad, so this recipe is dressed in an easy and light lemon vinaigrette to create a classically “sunny” flavor, lovely for the spring and summer.
I also love the addition of a savory-yet-sharp sprinkle of feta cheese, as well as the wonderful combination of peas and refreshing mint.
For me, this bow tie pasta salad with lemon vinaigrette brightens things up just a little bit, and is a fantastic pick when a snack or a light, cool meal is what I'm craving.
How to Make Pasta Salad with Farfalle and Lemon Vinaigrette
I always start by prepping my pasta of choice (bow ties or “farfalle”, in this case) and making sure that it's nice and cool before tossing it with my other ingredients.
Next, I'll whip up a zippy homemade dressing. For this recipe, I make a lemon vinaigrette prepared with fresh lemon juice, a kiss of Dijon mustard, good olive oil, some garlic, a touch of agave, and some salt and pepper.
Because I like a few vibrant morsels added to my pasta salad for a bit of texture and a little something “under tooth” so to speak, I opt for some English peas (or even frozen and thawed peas for convenience) partnered with some fresh mint and a touch of creamy, salty feta cheese.
The flavors of this pasta salad are very simple and wonderfully refreshing!
Here's a glance at my bow tie pasta salad with lemon vinaigrette recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I cook my bow tie pasta according to package instructions, then drain, rinse under cold water, and toss with a touch of olive oil to prevent sticking.
- Next, I prepare my lemon vinaigrette using my food processor, and blend until well emulsified and combined.
- If using fresh English-style peas, I blanch those for about 90 seconds in boiling water just enough to take some of the raw “bite” out of them, then shock in ice water and drain. (If using frozen peas, then simply thaw them and skip this step.)
- To prepare the bow tie pasta salad, I toss the cooled farfalle with my lemon vinaigrette until well coated and flavored, then sprinkle in half of my peas, feta and mint leaves, and toss again to combine.
- Then, I spoon the pasta salad out into a serving bowl or onto a platter, top with the rest of the peas, feta and mint, and serve immediately, or chill in the fridge for half an hour or so.
Bow Tie Pasta Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 8
Nutrition Info: 396 calories per serving
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
- 1 pound (16 ounces) package bow tie pasta (or farfalle)
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon agave
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 4 large cloves garlic
- 1 (slightly heaping) teaspoon sea salt, plus extra as needed to season
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, plus extra as needed to season
- 1 cup olive oil
- 10 ounces (about 2 cups), fresh English peas (or frozen and thawed peas)
- 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- ¼ cup chopped mint leaves (or the teeny leaves kept whole)
- Cook your bow tie pasta according to package instructions, then drain and rinse under cold water; allow the pasta to completely drain of the water, and set aside. (I like to drizzle the pasta with a touch of olive oil to prevent it from sticking together too much.)
- To prepare your lemon vinaigrette, add the lemon juice, agave, Dijon mustard, garlic cloves, 1 (slightly heaping) teaspoon of sea salt and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper to the bowl of your food processor, and process until smooth; with the processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until completely blended and well emulsified; pour into a jar or container, and set the vinaigrette aside.
- If using fresh English peas, bring a small pot of well-salted water to the boil, and add the peas to simmer for 90 seconds; drain and shock in ice water, then drain and pat dry.
- To prepare the bow tie pasta salad, add the cooked and cooled bow ties to a large bowl, and drizzle in roughly half of the vinaigrette; gently toss together, then check to see if more vinaigrette is needed, adding in a tablespoon or two more at a time and tasting.
- Add in about half of the peas, half of the feta and half of the mint, and gently toss to combine with the pasta and vinaigrette; check to see if more salt/pepper is needed, and season accordingly.
- To serve, spoon the bow tie pasta salad into a large serving bowl, then sprinkle over top the rest of the peas, feta cheese and mint, and serve immediately; or cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes before serving.
Tips & Tidbits for my Bow Tie Pasta Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette:
- Cook and cool your pasta: To expedite the process, I like to cool down my pasta after cooking it by running it under cold water, then allowing it to drain. Warm pasta seems to absorb the vinaigrette a bit too much.
- Fresh or frozen peas: If fresh English peas are available in markets, I like to use those and very quickly blanch them to take away some of the “crisp”. However, you can absolutely substitute frozen peas that have been thawed for convenience. You can choose either petite peas or regular.
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice: For my lemon vinaigrette, I like to freshly squeeze my lemon juice for optimal flavor and freshness. If you do opt for lemon juice that is pre-packaged, try to use one that is fresh and found in the refrigerated section, preferably organic with no other added ingredients.
- Feta cheese, or other tasty options: The salt and savory kick from feta is very tasty here, but you could also use goat cheese as a good alternative. Another option would be burrata or small pieces or fresh mozzarella.
- Cool mint or other tasty herbs: Peas and mint are a fun combo, but if you can't find mint, feel free to substitute some fresh basil, a small amount of oregano (can be strong so use discretion), or even parsley.
- Make ahead pasta salad: If you are prepping this recipe ahead of time to bring with you to a potluck or picnic, or to have ready to serve at a later time, simply cook and cool your bow ties, prep your lemon vinaigrette, and have your peas and feta portioned out. Wait to chop/prep the mint leaves just until service, as they do tend to discolor with time.