Broccoli Pasta Salad with Fresh Italian Herb Dressing

When I was a kid, my mom would let me pick a pasta salad from the deli counter at our local grocer every week.  I always looked forward to it, and I almost always picked the same pasta salad.  It had broccoli, sliced black olives, and a tangy vinaigrette.  While I was coming up with this recipe for broccoli pasta salad, I couldn’t help but think of “my salad”.  

Fresh basil, oregano, thyme, and parsley bring a freshness to this sun-dried tomato, balsamic vinegar Italian dressing.  It perfectly complements this pasta salad with broccoli, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, and sliced olives.  Whether you top it with vegan parmesan or not, this salad has delicious, herbaceous flavor!

This vegan salad keeps well in the fridge. You can make it in advance for when it is needed, and it will still be good. In fact, I have taken it on road trips. Left in a cooler with ice packs, it has been super tasty, even a day or two later. If it will need anything, maybe a touch more balsamic vinegar, but even then, it’s a maybe.

This vegan pasta salad with broccoli works well for camping, a bbq, lunch, road trips, picnics or as a tasty summer meal!

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Broccoli Pasta Salad with Fresh Italian Herb Dressing

Italian Dressing:

2 garlic cloves, sliced in half

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

½ cup olive oil

6 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil

2 Tbsp fresh oregano

¼ cup flat leaf parsley

½ cup fresh basil

2 sprigs of thyme, just the leaves (toss out the stems)

½ tsp dijon mustard

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

Salt, to taste

Black pepper, to taste

Broccoli Pasta Salad:

3 cups fresh broccoli florets

16 ounce package of farfalle pasta

5 ounce can of sliced black olives, drained

1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, chopped in half

15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Vegan parmesan, to top – optional

How to Make Broccoli Pasta Salad

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Put the broccoli in a colander. When the water is at a rolling boil, submerge the broccoli florets for 15 seconds (see photo above), then remove the colander from the pot and rinse the broccoli off with very cold water.  Reserve the pot of boiling water. Add the broccoli to a large mixing bowl.  

2. Use the same pot of boiling water that you used for the broccoli to prepare the pasta.  Follow the directions on the pasta package, drain, rinse with cold water, and allow it to cool.

Vegan Pasta Salad Recipe Balsamic Vinegar

3.  In a skillet, add garlic, olive oil, and crushed red pepper flakes over high heat.  As soon as it starts to sizzle, turn it down to low and allow the garlic and red pepper flakes to infuse the oil.  Cook over low heat for 1-2 minutes.  Do not allow the garlic to brown or burn.  

4. Add the contents of the skillet, and everything else listed under “Dressing” to a food processor or blender.  Blend until very smooth.  Taste, and adjust seasonings (Salt? More balsamic? etc).

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5. Add everything EXCEPT the farfalle pasta to the large mixing bowl with the broccoli.  I like to coat the vegetables and get the dressing into every nook and cranny.  

6. Once it is well-combined, add the farfalle pasta, and stir around a bit.  Taste, and adjust flavor, if needed (more salt? More balsamic?). Serve topped with vegan parmesan.

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