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Inspired by the incredible Plates and Palates recipe, this Lemon Tarragon Pasta Salad is the ultimate pasta salad side dish! Loaded with zesty lemon and herby tarragon, this salad is refreshing and filling. Perfect for meal prep, make a large batch and save it for lunches throughout the week!

We love loaded salads for lunch and especially as side dishes! Our Classic Potluck Broccoli Salad is a hit wherever we take it, and our Creamy Grape Salad is cool, refreshing, and doubles as both a side dish and dessert!

Overhead shot of Lemon Tarragon Pasta Salad, one large bowl and 2 smaller ones, next to forks, lemon and tarragon.

Creamy Pasta Salad

Plates and Palates is a well-loved restaurant in Bountiful, Utah, and they are best known for their incredible deli salads and paninis. In fact, if you check out their menu, the first thing that appears on it is their Lemon Tarragon Pasta Salad. My friend Jana grew up in Bountiful and was the one who introduced me to this deliciously creamy pasta salad. It is INCREDIBLE!

As there is only one Plates and Palates restaurant in the world, I needed to make my own version. It’s loaded with bow tie pasta, chicken, grapes, green onion, celery, and almonds, just like the original, and my take on the creamy lemon tarragon dressing has mayonnaise as well as sour cream and buttermilk to make it extra rich and tangy. The dressing itself you’ll want to make and keep on hand in the fridge all summer. It is so delicious as a dressing or a dip!

Side shot of Lemon Tarragon Pasta Salad, one large bowl and 2 smaller ones, next to forks, lemons, and tarragon.

This pasta salad is a great way to use up leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken, and also if you have extra grapes on hand (red or green) this will take care of them in an extremely tasty way. Make this Lemon Tarragon Pasta Salad for lunches throughout the week (it keeps really well in the fridge!) or take it to a potluck, and watch it disappear.

Overhead shot of Lemon Tarragon Pasta Salad, one large bowl and 2 smaller ones, next to a lemon and tarragon.

Key Ingredients for this Creamy Pasta Salad

SALAD

  • Pasta: I used bowtie pasta (farfalle), however fusilli, conchiglie or even penne would be great substitutes if you can’t find farfalle in the store. You can also substitue gluten-free pasta if desired.
  • Grapes: I love seeing grapes in pasta salads! Red grapes are my favorite to add, green or golden grapes would work well in this recipe too!
  • Celery: Celery gives a delicious, fresh crunch and is so healthy for you! It’s perfect for bulking up pasta salads without adding many calories.
  • Almonds: Slithered almonds add a hint of nuttiness along with a little crunch to keep your tastebuds guessing in this Lemon Tarragon Pasta Salad recipe!
  • Green onions: I wanted to elevate the fresh aroma of this recipe just a little and green onions seemed to make perfect sense!
  • Chicken: Cooked chicken breast, cubed, for a little healthy protein. Rotisserie chicken works great, and is an excellent way to use up leftovers!

DRESSING

  • Lemon: There is plenty of lemon in this dressing! Both juiced and zested, it tastes incredible next to the creamy ingredients, and is so refreshing in this pasta salad!
  • Tarragon: Tarragon is part of the sunflower family and has an intense flavor which is a mix of aniseed and vanilla. It is so delicious!
  • Mayonnaise: Mayo is often the foundation of salad dressing recipes as it acts as a blank canvas to bring out many flavors, and is also rich and creamy.
  • Sour cream & buttermilk: Tanginess comes from these two ingredients, as well as extra creaminess. The buttermilk helps to thin out the other ingredients without making the dressing too runny.
  • Sweetness: Simple white sugar adds sweetness, and honey brings a delicious aroma along with it’s sweetness. It goes so well with the tarragon!
all ingredients laid out on marble counter.

How to Make Lemon Tarragon Pasta Salad

  1. Boil the pasta. Firstly, cook the pasta according to the package directions in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain and immediately run under cold water to stop the cooking process.
  2. Add salad ingredients to a large bowl. Next, combine pasta, grapes, celery, almonds, green onions, and chicken.
dressing ingredients laid out on marble counter

3. Make the dressing. Blend dressing ingredients together in a blender for 30 seconds, then pour half of them over the pasta salad. Toss well to coat. Chill for 1-2 hours.

4. Toss and serve! Finally, just before serving, toss with remaining dressing.

Side shot of Lemon Tarragon Pasta Salad, in stoneware bowl next to lemon and tarragon, with smaller bowl in background

Can I use another pasta for this Lemon Tarragon Pasta Salad recipe?

Yes! Here are a few pasta shapes that would be great substitutes for bowtie (farfalle) pasta:

  • Fusilli
  • Macaroni
  • Conchiglie
  • Penne
  • Rotini
  • Campanelle
  • Cavatappi
  • Gomiti
  • Orecchiette
  • Rotelle
  • Ziti

What can I use instead of buttermilk?

If you don’t have buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to a 1 cup measuring cup. Fill the rest of the way with whole milk and stir to combine. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then use in place of regular buttermilk.

Overhead shot of Lemon Tarragon Pasta Salad, in stoneware bowl next to two smaller bowls of pasta salads, forks and a spoon

When is best to serve this Lemon Tarragon Pasta Salad?

You can serve this pasta salad year-round for lunch or at potlucks, but my favorite time is in the summer at BBQs and cookouts. You can make and chill it ahead of time, and it goes so well with other cookout foods!

Overhead shot of Lemon Tarragon Pasta Salad, in stoneware bowl next to a spoon

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Lemon Tarragon Pasta Salad
Yield: 8-10 serving

Lemon Tarragon Pasta Salad

Inspired by the incredible Plates and Palates recipe, this Lemon Tarragon Pasta Salad is the ultimate pasta salad side dish! Loaded with zesty lemon and herby tarragon, this salad is refreshing and filling. Perfect for meal prep, make a large batch and save it for lunches throughout the week!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 (16-ounce) box bowtie pasta
  • 2 cups red grapes, halved
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked, cubed chicken (rotisserie chicken works great)

Dressing

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 lemons juiced and zested (about 4-5 tablespoons lemon zest and 1/3 to 1/2 cup lemon juice)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain and immediately run under cold water to stop the cooking process.
  2. Combine pasta, grapes, celery, almonds, green onions, and chicken.
  3. Blend dressing ingredients together in a blender for 30 seconds, then pour half of them over the pasta salad. Toss well to coat. Chill for 1-2 hours.
  4. Just before serving, toss with remaining dressing.

Notes

  • If you want to bulk out this salad with even more vegetables, about 1 pound of roasted asparagus or roasted green beans would be good additions.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 417Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 53mgSodium: 538mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 2gSugar: 15gProtein: 13g

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

Recipe from Alex Daynes, by way of my friend Jana who first tried it at Plates and Palates in Bountiful, Utah.

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