Easy Pasta Salad With Fresh Herbs, Lemon and Garlic

Pasta with Broccoli and Pinenuts
PamelaJoeMcFarlane / Getty Images
  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
352 Calories
15g Fat
46g Carbs
10g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 352
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 3mg 1%
Sodium 104mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 46g 17%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Protein 10g
Calcium 165mg 13%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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.


  • 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)

Steps 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 and 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.

  4. Remove the herbs from the heat and allow them to cool.

  5. 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.

  6. Season generously with salt and pepper to taste. 

  7. 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.


  • 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.