If you’re looking for food inspiration, you already know social media is a great place to find it.
Early 2022, green goddess salad created by the blog Baked by Melissa, became the recipe everyone was making and recreating across social media. While I try not to give into trends, this recipe was hard to resist.
Why? The green was vibrant and eye-catching, the sauce tangy and herbaceous, and when served as a dip with salted tortilla chips, the crunch was so satisfying. However, there was one thing I didn’t love: all that chopping! The recipe requires a ton of cabbage chopped into very small pieces and cabbage, as we all know, can be a terror to chop.
So, I took the key flavors and textures of this viral recipe and made it easier. Here’s my take: the TikTok-famous green goddess salad meets your friendly neighborhood pasta salad.
It’s All in the Dressing
The dressing is what makes this pasta salad special. It’s not your traditional green goddess dressing, which typically has mayo and sour cream. Instead, it’s a more vibrant—both in color and flavor—vegan dressing that has loads of greens and relies on blended cashews for its creaminess and nutritional yeast for a savory, umami depth.
Plan ahead and make the dressing up to 2 days before you plan to serve it. Keep it refrigerated and stir it really well before using. You can stir in a little olive oil to thin it out a little, if needed.
Take My Lead and Customize It!
Here are some ways you can customize this versatile pasta salad recipe to your liking:
- Instead of the asparagus, frozen peas, and fennel, use green beans, broccoli, fresh peas, sugar snap peas, celery, or endive. The theme is green and fresh!
- Use Parmesan instead of nutritional yeast to up the umami and creaminess of the dressing.
- Add a can or two of drained canned white beans for more protein—perfect for when you’re serving it as a vegan main meal.
- Toss in homemade croutons—it’ll remind you of panzanella!
- Any short pasta will work. I prefer medium shells because I love how the peas and olives get stuck inside, making for a nice, full bite. You could use gemelli, farfalle, penne, orecchiette, rigatoni, or fusilli.
Every Day is Pasta Salad Season
Green Goddess Pasta Salad
This recipe calls for medium shells, but you can use any type of short pasta shape you have available, like gemelli, farfalle, penne, orecchiette, rigatoni, or fusilli.
- For the dressing
- 2 lemons
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 1/4 cups basil leaves, tightly packed
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves, tightly packed
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast or grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- For the pasta
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 pound dry medium pasta shells
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
- 12 stalks thin green asparagus, tough stems trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 fennel bulb, cored and very thinly sliced
- 6 ounces drained, jarred pitted green olives, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced
Get the water boiling:
Set a large pot of water (about 3 quarts) with 1 tablespoon salt over high heat and bring it to a boil.
Meanwhile, make the dressing:
Zest the lemons and set it aside. You will add it to the pasta salad later. Juice the lemons—you’ll need about 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.
In a blender, add the lemon juice, olive oil, basil, spinach, garlic, cashews, nutritional yeast, salt, and black pepper, and blend until very smooth.
Cook the pasta and vegetables:
When the water comes to a boil, add the pasta. About 2 minutes before the pasta is cooked—follow the cook time suggested on the packaging—add the frozen peas and asparagus to the pot. Cook for the remaining 2 minutes, then drain everything into a colander set in the sink.
Rinse with cold tap water to stop the pasta, peas, and asparagus from cooking further in the residual heat. Leave the colander in the sink to drain thoroughly.
Toss the pasta salad:
In a large bowl, add the cooled pasta, peas, and asparagus, plus the fennel, olives, chives, scallions, and lemon zest. Pour in the dressing and toss until everything is evenly coated. Season to taste with more salt and black pepper.
Enjoy the pasta salad chilled—pop it in the fridge for up to a day—or right away at room temperature.
Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
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