This isn’t your regular broccoli pasta salad — this one is made with oven roasted broccoli and it’s healthy. It’s packed with fresh herbs and spring green onion and unlike a lot of pasta salads, it has a light yet creamy dressing. Rather than being dressed with mayonnaise or a ranch dressing, its tossed in a light and tangy buttermilk dressing. And wait there’s more! This salad also has crunch! This side dish gets a sprinkling of nutty flavor from toasted walnuts — a perfect pair with broccoli!
The result is a delicious roasted broccoli pasta salad that makes for perfect make-ahead lunches, picnics, a BBQ side dish or simply when you’re craving a nutrient-packed and comforting pasta salad. If you are looking for a vegan alternative, you can easily sub out the dressing for a simple lemon-tahini dressing. Check out my archives for ideas!
A tasty pasta salad without mayo
This pasta salad with broccoli recipe is a spin-off on my winter pasta salad, which is has a similar dressing. It’s packed with roasted vegetables and is a great recipe to start with if you are looking for ideas on how to pack more vegetables into a pasta salad. It’s one of my favorites. Or is you are looking for ideas on how to make a creamy pasta salad without mayo check out my tahini-caesar dressing. Also a winner!
Let’s start with the pasta to vegetable ratio. This broccoli pasta salad has a high veg to pasta ratio. Broccoli is the main ingredient here.
And as far as pasta goes, there are lots of specialty grain, whole grain and gluten-free pasta options out there.
Add-ins. Fresh herbs are great add-ins for any salad, as are nuts and seeds. They add taste and texture, plus lots of good-for-you nutrients. A diverse mix of plant-based foods is key to a healthy diet!
The dressing. Instead of a mayo-based dressing, which is traditional for many pasta salads, I made a creamy buttermilk dressing with fresh spring herbs. Lemon zest and freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus a little Japanese rice vinegar make a deliciously tangy pasta salad dressing.
Broccoli pasta salad recipe ingredients
This salad has so many good things, including:
- Oven roasted broccoli — the roasting vegetables brings out their sweetness, while also giving the edges a little of that delicious caramelised flavor. And with broccoli you get such a great texture.
- Pasta — My favourite shape for this type of dressing are fusilli spiral shaped pasta. They have such a great way of getting coated with and hanging onto this herb-packed dressing.
- Green onions — For their mild flavor. And of course extra nutrients.
- Walnuts – For crunch! And toasted to bring out their nuttiness.
- A creamy buttermilk dressing with herbs – Who doesn’t love fresh herbs this time of year? They add nice fresh flavor to a bright, tangy pasta salad dressing. This ties it all together!
Looking for other pasta salad inspiration?
- Smoked Trout Pasta Salad with Asparagus & Fennel
- Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta Salad
- Summer Pasta Salad with Fresh Corn, Tomato and Basil
- Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad
Broccoli Pasta Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
A healthy pasta salad with roasted broccoli and walnuts, tossed in a herb buttermilk dressing. Great for BBQs and picnics.
For the buttermilk dressing:
- 200 ml organic buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- finely grated lemon zest from 1 organic lemon
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar (Japanese)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- generous handful basil leaves, slivered
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon (optional)
For the salad:
- 250 g dried pasta
- 2 small heads of broccoli, cut into bite-size florets (300g florets)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 green onions, finely chopped
- 30 g lightly toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven at 450°F / 220°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Toss the broccoli florets in 1 tablespoons olive oil and spread out evenly on the baking sheet (careful not to crowd).
Transfer to the preheated over and roast for 10-12 minutes, or until the broccoli is fork tender and the edges are lightly browned.
Meanwhile, prepare the pasta and dressing. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente (according to package instructions). Drain the pasta cooking water and rinse the pasta well under cold running water. Drain well.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, rice vinegar, sea salt and pepper. Add the herbs and mix to combine. Taste and season with more salt, if needed.
In a large serving bowl, add the pasta and dressing and toss to coat. Then add the green onion, roasted broccoli and walnuts and toss again to combine. Season with more salt and pepper, if desired. Serve and enjoy!
- This pasta salad with broccoli can easily be adapted to suit a vegan diet. Simple sub out the buttermilk dressing for a tahini dressing. I have a number of different types of tahini dressing recipes — or simply try an even mix of tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, plus minced garlic and a pinch of salt. Thin with water.
- Unseasoned Japanese rice vinegar can be found at your local asian food store or online.
For a relaxing atmosphere in the kitchen I recommend my personal Elle Republic: Chilled Out Kitchen Tunes Playlist on Spotify.
Did you try this recipe?
How did you like it?
Please let me know how this Broccoli Pasta Salad with Buttermilk Dressing recipe turned out for you! I would love to hear how you liked it. Simply rate it with the stars above ⭐ or leave me a comment and rate it below.
Did you make any changes to this recipe?
If you have tips for other readers, let me know! It helps me and other readers so much. Sharing is Caring :-).
This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase through my link, Amazon will pay me a commission for it. This doesn’t cost you anything additional and the price remains the same. More about advertisements on Elle Republic.