Spinach Artichoke Pasta Salad is dressed with a light, lemony vinaigrette and topped with fat curls of shaved parmesan. Along with this orzo salad, it is one of our favorite summer meals.
This no mayo pasta salad comes together in record time. Ready in about 15 minutes, from start to finish, and then it’s off to the beach or hanging out in the backyard.
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Spinach artichoke pasta salad
It is (almost) officially summer and that means lighter meals. Most of us love cooking and ALL of us love eating (please tell me it isn’t just me), but let’s be honest for a minute…
Wouldn’t you rather be outside instead of stuck in front of a stove on a blissfully perfect summer day?
No mayo pasta salad
There is no heavy sauce or mayo here, just a light “vinaigrette” that comes together from the oil of the sun dried tomatoes and artichokes, a squeeze of lemon juice and a splash of starchy pasta water.
This makes it perfect for packing up and taking to the beach or the park for a picnic.
A few big handfuls of spinach give it color and make a healthy addition to the pasta.
Spinach is rich in iron and the nutrients are more easily broken down and absorbed by your body with the addition of fresh lemon juice (and it’s just good!)
How to make pasta salad
For this light, lemon artichoke pasta salad, gather all of your ingredients (mise en place) and measure them out.
Put the pasta on to boil, saving about a cup of water from the pot before you drain it.
Toss the hot pasta with a bit of butter and the fresh spinach. The point is to wilt the spinach a bit from the heat of the pasta.
While it’s still warm, toss the rest of the ingredients through and add the starchy pasta water little by little to get the “sauce” to the consistency you prefer.
I usually use about 1/3 to 1/2 cup, even though I save twice as much. You can always toss out what you don’t use, but you can’t get extra pasta water without cooking more pasta, so save more than you think you’ll need.
Using a vegetable peeler, shave curls of grana padano or parmesan cheese on top and sprinkle with lemon zest.
What can I serve with this pasta salad?
Here are a few suggestions to make a delicious and easy summer menu:
- Grilled lemon herb shrimp
- Grilled lamb loin chops
- Bacon goat cheese burger
- No bake blueberry cheesecake bars
- Strawberry Arnold Palmers
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- 1/2 lb short pasta
- 3 big handfuls baby spinach, about 5 ounces
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
- 3/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts in olive oil
- juice & zest of 1 lemon
- 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 3/4 cup pasta water
- Cook pasta according to instructions. (I like a short pasta with this particular dish, but use whatever you have.)
- Reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta water before draining. In a medium sized bowl, add butter to drained pasta along with the spinach.
- Toss to combine. (The heat from the pasta will slightly wilt the spinach.)
- Add artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon zest and juice. Toss again to combine. (The oil from the artichokes and tomatoes will make a light sauce with the lemon juice - add enough pasta water to get the consistency of the sauce that you like, you may not need the entire amount you reserved.)
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Using a vegetable peeler, shave a few curls of Parmesan on top and garnish with a little extra lemon zest.
There are endless variations on this pasta dish. Try it with broccoli instead of spinach. Add a few handfuls of broccoli to the pasta during the final 3 minutes of cooking, drain with the pasta and continue on.
Another addition that is delicious is ricotta cheese. Stir in a half cup of ricotta just before adding the pasta water.
Finally, one of my favorite stir-ins is this lemon herb sauce.
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Serving Size:1 1/3 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 225Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 705mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 3gSugar: 7gProtein: 6g
Nutrition information calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended as a guideline only.
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Originally published 6/3/12, most recent update 6/8/20