Easy Cold Pasta Salad With Fresh Herbs Recipe

Pasta with Broccoli and Pinenuts
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  • 20 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Ratings (14)

Looking for a way to use up some fresh herbs from your garden? Try this simple recipe for a quick and easy vegetarian cold pasta salad flavored with fresh herbs including basil and parsley. It is inspired by the traditional Italian pesto flavors of garlic, basil, and Parmesan cheese.

Use this cold pasta salad recipe as a base and add your own favorite vegetables or pasta salad add-ins such as black olives, roasted or fresh chopped red peppers, chopped artichoke hearts, or fresh or sun-dried tomatoes. It's also delicious as is, as the fresh herbs really shine in this easy and simple cold pasta salad.

For a vegan version of this salad, simply omit the Parmesan cheese, or, swap it out for a light dusting of nutritional yeast for a similar flavor boost.

What You'll Need

  • 10 oz. corkscrew pasta (rotini)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • Dash sea salt (or to taste)
  • Dash ground black pepper (or to taste)

How to Make It

  1. First, prepare the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain it well and allow it to cool. 
  2. Heat half of the extra-virgin olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) in a large skillet over medium heat and add the minced garlic. Cook for just a minute or two, stirring, then reduce the heat to low and add the chopped fresh basil and parsley.
  3. Cook for just one minute, until heated through. You just want the fresh herbs to start to get gently warmed in order to release their flavors as much as possible, but you don't want them to actually wilt or start to cook.
  1. Remove the herbs from the heat and allow them to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cooked and drained pasta with all of the remaining ingredients, including the cooked garlic and herbs, the remainder of the olive oil, lemon juice, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese.
  3. Season generously with salt and pepper, to taste. 
  4. Toss your pasta salad well and serve it cold. You may also want to let it chill for an hour or two in the refrigerator before serving to let the flavors really develop.

Tips

Most people advise cooking pasta in heavily salted water when cooking it for a pasta salad to maximize flavor. "Heavily salted" means at least one full tablespoon of salt goes in the water, and some people advise two full tablespoons of salt. It's a personal preference but does add a nice flavor.

This salad is a relatively safe one to bring to a potluck or picnic. While you should keep it refrigerated, if possible, it can stay at room temperature while it is served as part of a buffet.

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 352
Total Fat 15 g
Saturated Fat 2 g
Unsaturated Fat 8 g
Cholesterol 3 mg
Sodium 104 mg
Carbohydrates 46 g
Dietary Fiber 4 g
Protein 10 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)