Salads are sometimes a contentious topic in my household. Whether green, bean, or pasta salad, someone is usually unenthusiastic about it. (You can read more about the lack of green salad enthusiasts here.) In the case of pasta salad, I grew up extremely unenthusiastic because of my aversion to mayonnaise. Specifically, macaroni salad stuck together and was scooped with a giant ice cream scoop (if only the lovely cafeteria ladies would scoop me ice cream instead). I’ve gotten over the mayo thing (mostly) but a traditional macaroni salad doesn’t get me that excited about food. If you’re looking for another may0-free recipe, check out this easy egg salad.
However, since picnic season is right around the corner, I wanted to come up with a nice pasta salad that I would actually want to eat. I have a history of swapping creamy salad dressing in recipes that call for mayonnaise (tuna salad, egg salad) so I figured I’d try it with pasta salad. Enter: Annie’s Green Goddess salad dressing. It’s similar to your classic buttermilk ranch dressing, but herbier and lighter and even more amazing. It made great pasta salad. If you made pasta salad with this dressing, you’d be good to go.
But, being an overachiever, I decided I wanted to make the green goddess dressing myself. And you know what? It wasn’t that hard! I looked at the ingredient list to figure out the flavor profile, and it was mostly taste testing from there. I love that you can make the dressing ahead of time. In fact, I recommend it! It helps the flavor of the herbs settle into themselves and create a delicious, tangy, aromatic zing that complements your pasta.
If you’ve never had tarragon, it has a slight anise flavor that’s mildly sweet. It brings a light freshness to the dressing that’s really nice with the bite of the garlic, green onion, and chives. Throw in some earthy dill and you’ve got yourself a winner. The pasta salad is finished with some peas (in keeping with childhood memories, I ate a lot of frozen peas). Frozen peas are available year round, which is awesome for this recipe. But if you can get fresh English peas, they’re totally worth shelling out for this pasta salad.
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Green Goddess Pasta Salad with Peas
A quick and easy pasta salad with homemade green goddess dressing! Fresh or frozen peas add a burst of sweetness for the perfect picnic.
small pasta such as gemelli or elbow macaroni
shelled English peas or thawed frozen peas
green goddess dressing
Grated parmesan, optional
Cook pasta according to directions. When pasta is fully cooked but still firm, rinse with cold water to reduce sticking.
Combine cooked pasta and peas in a large bowl. Pour in dressing and stir to combine. Sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve immediately or chill 1 hour before serving.
I love making this green goddess pasta salad ahead of time. It soaks into the pasta and provides great flavor! If you are making it ahead of time, be sure to cook the pasta to a firm al dente, or even barely under cooked. That way the pasta will stay firm and springy even when the dressing soaks in.
Omit the cheese, and sprinkle on nutritional yeast if desired. Instead of yogurt, make a cashew based dressing instead. Soak 1/2 cup of raw cashew pieces for 2 hours to overnight. Then combine with 1/2 cup of water and puree in a high speed blender with the garlic, garlic powder, mustard, lemon juice, green onion, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Transfer to a separate bowl and stir in herbs.
Substitute your favorite gluten free pasta or use rice noodles for this pasta salad.
Add cubed ham, salami or shredded chicken for a little extra protein to make it a meal.
CHECK THE FRIDGE
You can add frozen corn, sliced radishes, or grated carrots to this recipe to increase the variety of vegetables. I also like serving this with small pasta like penne or small shells.
Homemade pasta is also a fun project for delicious return. Check out everything you need to know about making pasta from Serious Eats.