Penne, Spinach, Asparagus, and Cashew Salad

It’s been the first week of summer here on campus.  With commencement last weekend, now we are celebrating the summer by writing annual reports, cleaning our offices, and developing programs we dreamed of doing this year and are excited to have in place for next year.  Yesterday, our division had some great end-of-year celebrating by spending the afternoon doing a service project in Cedar Rapids.  After it was over, we had a potluck and as I’m doing another round of preparing to move, I planned my contribution by looking at what was left in my pantry!  I made Penne, Spinach & Asparagus Salad, a recipe I found on the Epicurious site, originally from Bon Appetit magazine.  I love asparagus, almost as much as I love other springtime flavors, so before it’s out of season, I thought I should take advantage of cooking with this spring vegetable!
Penne, Spinach, Asparagus, and Cashew Salad
1 ½ lb asparagus spears, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 ½ lb whole wheat penne
1 Tbsp plus ½ c olive oil
¾ c sliced green onions
6 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
6 oz baby spinach
1 c salted, roasted cashews, coarsely chopped
Cook asparagus in large pot of boiled salted water until just tender, about 3 minutes.  Using slotted spoon, transfer asparagus to small bowl.  Coo.  Add pasta to same pot and cook until just tender but still firm to bite.  Drain well.  Transfer pasta to very large bowl.  Toss with 1 Tbsp oil.  Cool.
Blend ½ c oil, green onions, vinegar and soy sauce in blender until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Pour over pasta.  Add asparagus, spinach and cashews; toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.