Asparagus and Arugula Pasta Salad


1 pound fresh asparagus, ends trimmed and discarded
1 pound whole-wheat pasta
juice and zest of 1 lemon
(about 3 tablespoons juice, 1-2 tablespoons zest)
1 tablespoon olive oil
(optional) 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 large handfuls fresh baby arugula
2/3 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese (or Parmesan cheese)
1/4 cup loosely-packed julienned (or torn) fresh basil
freshly-cracked black pepper
(optional: 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts)

Cut the asparagus on the diagonal into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

In a large stockpot filled with (generously-salted water*), cook pasta al dente according to package instructions. About 3 minutes before the pasta is done, stir the asparagus in with the pasta. When the pasta reaches al dente, pour the pasta and asparagus into a strainer (or strain out the hot water). Then rinse the pasta and asparagus with cold water until cooled.

Return pasta to the stockpot and toss with lemon juice and zest and olive oil (and red wine vinegar, if using) until combined. Add in arugula, cheese, basil, and a few pinches of fresh pepper (and pine nuts, if using), and toss until combined. Taste and season with additional black pepper, if needed.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
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