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, and 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, simply omit the Parmesan cheese, or, swap it out for a light dusting of nutritional yeast for a similar flavor boost.
This easy cold pasta salad recipe is vegetarian, but if you want it to be vegan as well, you can simply omit the Parmesan cheese.
- 10 oz. corkscrew (rotini) 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 Parmesan cheese (grated)
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- Dash sea salt or kosher salt (or to taste)
- Dash ground black pepper (or to taste)
- First, prepare the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain well and allow to cool. Quick tip: 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. Up to you.
- Heat half of the extra-virgin olive oil (about two tablespoons) in a large skillet and add in the minced garlic over medium heat. Cook for just a minute or two, stirring, then reduce the heat to low and add the chopped fresh basil and parsley.
- 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.
- Remove the herbs from heat and allow to cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the cooked and drained pasta with all of the remaining ingredients, including cooked garlic and herbs, the remainder of the olive oil, lemon juice, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.
- Season generously with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Toss your pasta salad well and serve 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.
Enjoy your cold vegetarian pasta salad!