Broccoli Pasta Salad with Pecorino and Mint

broccoli pasta salad in a white bowl

Broccoli pasta salad is my summer barbecue go-to, and I’ll admit, it isn’t for the best reasons.

I choose pasta salad because it’s a complete, satisfying meal that will fill me up in the event that all of the other food at the party is… less than delicious. Sorry, but as someone who lives (and loves) to eat, I just can’t take any chances.

In the case of this easy broccoli pasta salad, I’d eat it whether I was headed to a potluck dinner or just hungry at home on a Tuesday. I’d bring it to a summer picnic or picnic on my couch during an extended work-from-home lunch.

Packed with crisp, green broccoli, crunchy, toasted almonds, nutty, salty Pecorino cheese and a smattering of fresh mint in a simple, slightly-too-vinegary vinaigrette, it’s too good to make for just one event in the summer. It’s a pasta salad for all seasons, if you will. Finally!

Tips for the best pasta salad

  • Lots of veggies. Ideally, more vegetables than pasta by weight. 
  • Bright, tangy, no-mayo dressing. I have nothing against mayonnaise, but I just don’t want it in my pasta. Olive oil is a much more compatible fat source. Use it with abandon!
  • Make substitutions as necessary. Swap the cheese for nutritional yeast or a plant-based substitute to make this vegan. Use gluten-free pasta to make this grain-free. Or, if you’re not looking for a vegetarian option, add chicken!
  • Make it ahead. Let the pasta salad sit for at least 10 minutes before serving so the flavors can meld.
  • Pasta salad does not have to be—and, frankly, shouldn’t be— cold. Enjoy it warm or at room temperature (my preference).

Notes on the ingredients

  • 12 oz of pasta. Don’t hate me, but this is about ¾ of a standard 16 oz box. I found that a whole box was too much pasta, and half a box was not enough. See notes for ideas on how to use the rest of the box. It’s worth it, promise!
  • Fresh broccoli. You can use almost any vegetable here, I like the hearty crunch of broccoli but you can also try well-roasted zucchini rounds, chopped, steamed asparagus, thinly sliced raw cucumber, etc. Notice the green theme here—keep things monochromatic for a unique look.
  • Red wine vinegar and fresh lemon juice. Two forms of acid add a one-two punch that firmly places this dish in the “salad” category. Feel free to swap out the red wine vinegar for white or balsamic vinegar.
  • Almonds, mint, and Pecorino cheese. Use any combination of nuts, herbs, and cheese that you like. Try walnuts with basil and Parmesan. Pecans with parsley and feta. Hazelnuts with dill and manchego. There are no wrong answers here!

What to serve with pasta salad

Let’s make broccoli pasta salad

Bring a large pot of water (use your largest pot, you’ll add the pasta and the broccoli to it) to a boil and salt generously. Add the pasta and cook for 1 minute less than package directions. Add the broccoli florets to the boiling water with the pasta and cook 1-2 minutes more, until the pasta is al dente and the broccoli is bright green and a little bit crisp (the broccoli will continue to cook as it sits in the dressing). Drain the pasta and broccoli and return it to the pot.

broccoli, pasta, pecorino, mint, and almonds in a red pot

Add the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic clove to the pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more red wine vinegar if you’d like it a little punchier, more olive oil if you’d like it to be richer.

If serving right away, stir in the almonds, mint, and Pecorino. If bringing to a party or serving later, store, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use. Add the almonds, mint, and Pecorino (and a splash more oil and vinegar) just before serving.

close up of broccoli pasta salad in a white bowl

Broccoli Pasta Salad with Pecorino and Mint

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...
Dinner, Side Dish American
By Samantha Serves: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes

Packed with crisp broccoli, toasted almonds, Pecorino cheese, and fresh mint, this easy pasta salad is my summer barbecue go-to.

Ingredients

  • Salt
  • 12 oz rotini, fusili, shells, or other short, ridged pasta (about ¾ of a box)
  • 1 lb broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar, plus more to taste
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (from about 1 small lemon, or half of a large lemon)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic, pressed or finely chopped
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • ½ cup toasted almonds, chopped
  • ½ cup mint leaves, roughly torn or chopped
  • 2 oz Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, coarsely chopped (about ½ cup)

Instructions

1

Bring a large pot of water (use your largest pot, you’ll add the pasta and the broccoli to it) to a boil and salt generously. Add the pasta and cook for 1 minute less than package directions. Add the broccoli florets to the boiling water with the pasta and cook 1-2 minutes more, until the pasta is al dente and the broccoli is bright green and a little bit crisp (the broccoli will continue to cook as it sits in the dressing). Drain the pasta and broccoli and return it to the pot.

2

Add the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic clove to the pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more red wine vinegar if you’d like it a little punchier, more olive oil if you’d like it to be richer.

3

If serving right away, stir in the almonds, mint, and Pecorino. If bringing to a party or serving later, store, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use. Add the almonds, mint, and Pecorino (and a splash more oil and vinegar) just before serving.

Notes

The leftover pasta in the box (about 4 oz), will serve 2 people. Make aglio e olio for yourself for lunch and enjoy leftovers the next day, or share it with someone else for dinner. Or, cook the pasta and leave it plain, keeping it in the fridge to combine with leftover veggies or bits of protein all week.

You Might Also Like

2 Comments

  • Reply
    Monica
    September 10, 2021 at 11:01 am

    That dish is gorgeous!! What a terrific addition to any party. Thank you Samantha 🙂

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.