Easy Pasta Salad With Fresh Herbs, Lemon and Garlic

Easy cold herbed pasta salad recipe

The Spruce Eats / Emily Hawkes

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
213 Calories
14g Fat
17g Carbs
5g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 213
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 19%
Saturated Fat 2g 11%
Cholesterol 4mg 1%
Sodium 104mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 17g 6%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 4mg 22%
Calcium 48mg 4%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 88mg 2%
*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.


  • 10 ounces rotini corkscrew pasta

  • 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 grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1 dash sea salt, or to taste

  • 1 dash freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients easy cold-herbed pasta salad recipe
    The Spruce Eats / Emily Hawkes
  2. First, prepare the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain it well and allow it to cool. 

    Pasta in drainer
    The Spruce Eats / Emily Hawkes
  3. 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.

    Olive oil in pan
    The Spruce Eats / Emily Hawkes
  4. 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.

    Cook parsley
    The Spruce Eats / Emily Hawkes
  5. Remove the herbs from the heat and allow them to cool.

    Remove the herbs
    The Spruce Eats / Emily Hawkes
  6. 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.

    Pasta and cheese
    The Spruce Eats / Emily Hawkes
  7. Season generously with salt and pepper to taste. 

    Add seasoning
    The Spruce Eats / Emily Hawkes
  8. 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.

    Toss your pasta salad
    The Spruce Eats / Emily Hawkes


  • 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.

Recipe Variation

  • 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.

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