Green Pasta Salad with Edible Flowers

Green pasta salad with edible flowers!

This green pasta salad is not only healthy, fresh and tasty, but the addition of edible flowers makes it very beautiful too! A perfect springtime recipe!

Green pasta salad with edible flowers

Pasta fredda in verde con fiori edibili.

Italians call pasta salad either ‘insalata di pasta’ or ‘pasta fredda’, meaning cold pasta. There are, of course, hundreds of recipes for pasta salad here in Italy. Many of these are vegetarian and a lot have cheese in them. Some contain seafood, but few are made with meat. I guess this is because cold pasta is eaten mostly in spring and summer, when there is an abundance of  fresh seasonal veggie ingredients. Plus, temperatures are higher, so lighter meals are more popular.

Green pasta salad with edible flowers

The choice of ingredients for a pasta salad is pretty vast and for many people the combination used is often down to personal taste. There are a few traditional recipes such as ‘crudaiola Barese’, a simple but delicious dish from Bari in Puglia. However, on the whole pasta salad is a contemporary way to prepare pasta. Hence the wide choice of modern recipes and the scarcity of traditional ones.

Ingredients in basket for green pasta salad with edible flowers

The ingredients.

This green pasta salad is, needless to say, made with mostly green ingredients. So, not a tomato in sight! The basis of the sauce is a parsley, mint, baby spinach, pine nut and marjoram pesto, to which blanched spring onions are added. I loved this idea. Pesto often contains raw garlic which gives it a very strong taste. Using blanched spring onions adds an oniony flavour that isn’t overpowering and much more subtle.

Spinach leaves and herbs in blender for green pasta salad

Rather than the grated cheese used with so many pasta recipes, this green pasta salad recipe calls for Parmesan flakes which are a favourite salad ingredient for me, as are the toasted pine nuts. However, for a vegan version just leave out the cheese flakes or use a vegan cheese. I added edible flowers to the bowl because they look so pretty and add a wow factor that’s bound to impress your guests, but of course you can make it without the flowers.

green sauce and pine nuts in blender for green pasta salad

The pasta.

Italians have an unspoken rule that pasta salad needs to be made with short pasta. I guess that makes sense because cold spaghetti just doesn’t cut it! You can use any short tube pasta such as penne or rigatoni but my favourite is fusilli. The fusilli I used actually comes from Pisa in Tuscany. It was made by an artisan pasta maker called pastificio Martelli. This family-run company produces excellent handmade, bronze drawn pasta.

Green sauce and blanched spring onion in blender for pasta salad

This fusilli di Pisa is smaller but more elongated and narrower than normal fusilli. Each piece of pasta has 7 spirals, like the Tower of Pisa. In fact, this pasta is said to have been inspired by the story of a pasta maker from Pisa in 1284, who created pasta in the image of the city’s famous landmark.

This fusilli worked so well with this recipe as the green sauce really got into the pasta spirals, making each mouthful super delicious! So, fusilli would definitely be my number one choice for this green pasta salad recipe.

Fusilli di Pisa Martelli on white plate

Tips for making a great pasta salad.

To prevent your pasta from sticking together after cooking, it’s best to rinse the pasta with cold water after draining it and then put it into a bowl and add a little olive oil to it. Mix the oil and pasta so the pasta pieces are slightly coated in oil. The other ingredients should really be prepared beforehand so that you can add them to the pasta immediately.

Green sauce in bowl and fusilli in bowl for green pasta salad

Italians prefer pasta salad to be tepid or at room temperature rather than out of the fridge. However, you can make it in advance. I made this green pasta salad a few hours before serving and kept it in the fridge covered in plastic wrap. However, if you do that. Take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before so that it can be served more or less at room temperature.

Green pasta salad with edible flowers

Cold pasta is such a great versatile dish. You can eat it as a one course meal, offer it as side dish at a barbeque or take it on picnics. I made this salad for lunch last Sunday. My family and guests loved it. I’m sure yours will too.

If you do try this green pasta salad with edible flowers recipe, I’d love to hear what you think. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.

Your feedback means a lot to me!

Buon appetito!

(This recipe was originally published a year ago, but has been updated)

Other spring pasta recipes on The Pasta Project!

  1. Fusilli with asparagus, recipe from Northern Italy.
  2. Poached salmon and asparagus lasagna
  3. Tagliatelle with peas and pancetta, recipe from Verona.
  4. Gargati pasta with spring ragu
  5. Sicilian pasta with sardines and wild fennel.

 

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5 from 32 votes
Green pasta salad with edible flowers
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

A beautiful, fresh and tasty pasta salad that family and friends will love! 

Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: edible flowers, fusilli, pasta, salad
Servings: 4
Author: Jacqueline De Bono
Ingredients
  • 360 g fusilli pasta (12-13oz) or other short pasta
  • 100 g baby spinach leaves (3.5oz)
  • 2-3 spring onions
  • 1 handful fresh parsley
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh mint
  • 1 sprig fresh marjoram
  • 50 g pine nuts (2oz) toasted
  • 50 g Parmesan cheese flakes (can be left out for vegan version)
  • extra virgin olive oil as required
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • edible flowers as required
Instructions
Prepare the pasta
  1. Clean the spring onion and remove 2/3 of the green part.

    Bring plenty of water to a boil in a pot, add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again.

  2. Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the packet. 5 minutes before the pasta is cooked, add the spring onion to the pot. 

  3. Save a little of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta and spring onion. Cool them under cold running water. Put the pasta into a bowl and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix well

Make the sauce
  1. While you are waiting for the pasta water to boil and the pasta to cook, wash and dry the parsley, marjoram and mint. Wash and dry the spinach leaves. Toast the pine nuts in a non-stick frying pan, for 1-2 minutes.

  2. Put the herbs and half the spinach leaves into a blender with some olive oil and pulse a few times. Add the blanched spring onion and a little more oil and pulse again. Add half the toasted pine nuts and salt and pepper to taste. Pulse again. If the sauce seems dry add some more olive oil or a dash of the pasta cooking water.

Make the salad
  1. Add the sauce to the pasta and mix. Add the remaining pine nuts to the pasta with the remaining spinach leaves and the thinly sliced Parmesan cheese flakes.

    Mix the cold pasta and sauce with the pine nuts, spinach and cheese and serve decorated with edible flowers if you have them..

Recipe Notes

To make this salad vegan just leave out the cheese flakes or use a vegan cheese.

Pin for Later

green pasta salad with edible flowers

 

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40 Comments

  • Geetanjali Tung
    May 3, 2019 6:16 am

    Never seen any pasta with edible flowers. This is fantastic. Love all the flavors 🙂

    • Jacqui
      May 3, 2019 7:23 am

      Thank you so much Geetanjali! This pasta salad is delicious and the flowers make it look so pretty!

  • Beth Neels
    April 30, 2019 6:26 pm

    I adore adding edible flowers to my dishes in the spring and summer! Company is always surprised and make a funny face, but everyone who ties them, likes them! This version with pesto looks awesome!

  • Maman de sara
    April 30, 2019 5:38 am

    Look at these beautiful colors in this dish and the edible flours makes it unique.

  • Susan
    April 29, 2019 9:31 pm

    This looks like heaven in a bowl! Your variation of pesto sounds amazing and the edible flowers make this the star of the party! Thanks for sharing!

  • Mimi
    April 29, 2019 6:25 pm

    Both pasta and salad are my two weak spots. You’ve got both in one recipe here! AND you added these flowers that look absolutely stunning!

  • April
    April 29, 2019 6:24 pm

    I have no words to express my excitement – this looks more like a painting to me – fantastic pasta recipe!

  • Julie
    April 29, 2019 3:41 pm

    What a gorgeous pasta dish! I love how pretty the edible flowers are- such a great way to elevate a dish.

  • Fiorenza
    April 29, 2019 3:14 pm

    An excellent pasta dish, healthy and light and also beautiful to present .. then the fusilli are perfect!

  • Ramona
    April 29, 2019 1:42 pm

    Pesto is definitely one of my top favourite pasta sauces. A very pretty and delicious salad – I really love the edible flowers – it makes this delish dish look so pretty. Lovely revipe 😉

  • Shinta Simon
    April 29, 2019 1:36 pm

    This pasta would also make for a beautiful centerpiece for a table setting! How gorgeous does this sound, and right in time for summer too.

  • Shashi at SavorySpin
    April 29, 2019 11:42 am

    This has gotta be one of the most colorful and pretty pasta dishes I’ve seen – also, this is my first time feasting my eyes on “Pasta fredda in verde con fiori edibili” Thanks for sharing.

  • Nicolas Hortense
    April 29, 2019 11:31 am

    Mmmm yum I love how you flavoured that pasta with all those beautiful fresh herbs! (:

  • Brian Jones
    April 29, 2019 9:06 am

    I love the idea of blanching the spring onions before putting them in a pesto to get a mellow vibe.

    I also love adding flowers to recipes, I started doing it a few years ago and am amazed at the breadth of flowers that are edible. My favourite with green ‘food’ is lilac, the colour contrast is stunning and they have a great subtle taste too. Although they are a little fiddly to pick from the head 😉

  • Natalie
    April 29, 2019 8:23 am

    This salad looks so good! I love the addition of edible flowers – so pretty! Can’t wait to try this recipe for a healthy brunch or dinner party!

  • Sophia
    April 29, 2019 5:14 am

    Your recipes are always so tasty and beautiful, and this one doesn’t disappoint! Adding the flowers is the perfect springtime touch!

  • Amanda
    April 29, 2019 3:40 am

    It’s almost too pretty to eat! I love that you added mint to this pasta. Mint is one of my favorite spring and summer flavors, and it goes so well with pasta. Delicious recipe!

  • Celeste
    April 28, 2019 4:43 am

    Pesto is like a magic sauce in my home, we use it on pasta, sandwiches, burgers, and salads. This salad is absolutely beautiful, the flowers are such a lovely addition.

  • Kelly Anthony
    April 27, 2019 10:28 pm

    This green pasta salad is so pretty! This salad is sure to impress any guest.

  • Kacie Morgan
    April 26, 2019 4:02 pm

    This looks absolutely beautiful. Edible flowers make any dish look so pretty! Mmm.

  • Stine Mari
    April 26, 2019 11:04 am

    Great idea to add blanched spring onions to the pesto sauce. All the ingredients sound wonderful together – the perfect Spring dish. And yesss toasted pine nuts are one of my favorite toppings for pasta!

  • Jenni LeBaron
    April 25, 2019 10:22 pm

    I love a good pasta salad and the pesto on this one sound spectacular. The addition of edible flowers makes this so fun for a special spring event!

  • Danielle Wolter
    April 25, 2019 7:39 pm

    this sounds so delicious! perfect for summer time. the pesto sauce is always nice and fresh. love the edible flowers!

  • Cathy
    April 25, 2019 1:41 am

    Perfect for a picnic or barbeque! Looks delicious and so pretty! Edible flowers are perfect for dishes like this, thank you for this appealing recipe!

  • Jere Cassidy
    April 25, 2019 12:57 am

    Hallelujah, a salad with no tomatoes for a change. This looks amazing and I love all the greens.

  • Laura
    April 24, 2019 11:41 pm

    I like seeing more recipes that use edible flowers. They add so much beauty to a meal. I guess the only challenge is to find different flowers every time to make each meal unique.

  • cheflolaskitchen
    April 24, 2019 10:48 pm

    Love how beautiful and tempting this looks! Would love to try it at the soonest.

  • Lauren Vavala | DeliciousLittleBites
    April 24, 2019 10:05 pm

    I’ve always wanted to try edible flowers – they make the food so pretty. This salad sounds delicious!

  • Noelle
    April 24, 2019 9:36 pm

    This is a perfect spring and summer dish! Lovely to come across this right as those are coming up

  • Stephanie Simmons
    May 22, 2018 2:51 am

    I absolutely love pasta salad in the summer time! And those flowers are gorgeous

  • Wanda Lopez
    May 21, 2018 4:02 pm

    Loving everything about this pasta. I agree, it’s the perfect side for any BBQ or celebration. I will definitely make it many times during the summer.

  • Yuen Mi
    May 20, 2018 4:40 pm

    Pesto and edible flowers. I love how colourful and fresh this salad is. And it’s versatility. I would love to try adding some edible flowers in my dishes. Such an inspiration. WIll start looking for edible flowers at the farmer’s market now!

  • Constance Smith
    May 20, 2018 1:29 pm

    I agree with you, I love using the flaked parmesan cheese. It is so much more elegant and you seem to be able to taste it more.

  • Camila Hurst
    May 20, 2018 4:25 am

    Ohhh I got some edible flowers at the farmer’s market today! I never thought of putting them in a pasta salad!! Beautiful!

  • Chef Mireille
    May 19, 2018 10:29 pm

    I love using edible flowers in salads – perfect summertime treat!

  • Cathleen @ A Taste of Madness
    May 19, 2018 4:05 pm

    I also love the look of edible flowers, but I don’t know where to get them! Do you grow them, or buy them somewhere?

  • Azlin Bloor
    May 19, 2018 2:18 pm

    I love everything about this recipe, from its green sauce to the fact that you’ve got flowers in there. Don’t you just love summertime for its bounty? The pansies are so pretty!

  • Lisa
    May 19, 2018 2:51 am

    How fun! This looks great! I love the idea of edible flowers! Pretty and delicious!

  • Lisa
    May 19, 2018 2:49 am

    How fun! I love the idea of edible flowers! Pretty and delicious!

  • Casey
    May 18, 2018 2:16 pm

    Pesto is probably one of my favorite sauces for pasta, or really anything (I put it in Portobello Mushroom Caps, and then back them – delicious)! I have never used edible flowers in my cooking, but have been thinking of using them. i love that you are using them in a pasta dish though, I usually only see them in desserts.

Tell me what you think