I love macaroni salad, but the traditional recipes are fairly mundane. I decided to shake up the flavors a bit by adding shrimp, asparagus, sweet peas, and cherry tomatoes. Of course, everything is better with bacon, so I tossed some in for crunch and punch. It goes beautifully with the shrimp. This is not your Mama’s macaroni salad! Shrimp Garden Pasta Salad is perfect for summer picnics and potluck dinners.
The recipe is easily adapted to use your favorite vegetables. Be sure to read the Notes below for tips and substitutions.
Shrimp Garden Pasta Salad Recipe
12 ounces ridged penne pasta, cooked al dente in salted water, and rinsed with cold water
3 sprigs dill weed
1 pound jumbo (31 to 40 count per pound) shrimp, peeled
20 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
8 spears fresh asparagus, cooked al dente and cut into 1-inch slices
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/2 cup baby sweet peas, cooked just until softened
1/2 cup diced celery (about 1 medium stalk)
1/2 cup diced sweet onions
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
1 Tablespoon sour cream
1 teaspoons chopped fresh dill weed
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut the lemon into quarters. Squeeze the lemon pieces into a pot of unsalted water large enough to cook the shrimp. Toss in the rinds, along with 3 sprigs of dill, and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the peeled shrimp and cook only until the shrimp turn pink and float. Do not overcook or they will become rubbery. Immediately drain and cover with ice, discarding the lemon and dill sprigs. When they are cold, cut each shrimp into halves or thirds.
Add shrimp to the cooked and cooled pasta, along with cherry tomatoes, asparagus, bacon bits, sweet peas, celery, and sweet onions.
In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, relish, sour cream, chopped dill, and celery seed to make the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste, keeping in mind that the pasta will soak up a lot of salt.
Add the dressing to the pasta, shrimp, and vegetables. Fold gently until dressing is distributed throughout the salad. Chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
• You may substitute your favorite pasta shape, but I suggest using a shape that has ridges for the dressing to stick to. Do not add oil to the pasta water while cooking. Cooking with oil in the water will coat the pasta and the dressing will roll off. I prefer using the high fiber pasta that is now readily available.
• Roma tomatoes may be substituted for the cherry tomatoes. Seed them, then chop.
• Diced roasted red peppers may also be substituted for half or all of the tomatoes.
• Frozen asparagus spears may be used. Let them thaw at room temperature, then slice. No need to cook them.
• Frozen, thawed green beans may be substituted for the asparagus.
• Turkey bacon may be substituted for traditional bacon.
• I recommend against using canned peas because they are too mushy. Use fresh cooked or frozen baby sweet peas. Frozen peas should only need about 1 minute in boiling water, then rinse and immediately cool to avoid over-cooking.
• Low-fat mayonnaise and/or sour cream may be substituted.
Shrimp Garden Pasta Salad Recipe Photo ©2018 Peggy Filippone