Yotam Ottolenghi’s pasta salad recipes (2024)

One of the joys of giving the kitchen a spring clean is that it reunites – at last! – all those Tupperware lids with the right Tupperware boxes. And, following on from that, there’s the equally joyous thought of all the springtime salads you can make to store and cart around in those boxes, ready to be eaten sitting in the sun or on the go.

Typically, when it comes to spring salads, I give a lot of shelf space to those that are bulked out with short grains (such as rice) or even smaller pseudo-grains and pasta (such as quinoa and couscous). There’s a simple reason for this: they’re practical to eat, happy to take on all sorts of dressings and a great way to let other ingredients shine. Today’s orzo salad is a case in point: as well as adding some welcome substance, the pasta is also there to carry the pesto and showcase the chunks of feta and the roast nuts. I’ve used orzo, but other short-form pasta – stelle, gigli, risoni (like orzo, but even smaller) or conchigliette – will all do a similar trick.

But don’t restrict your thinking just to small shapes when it comes to pasta salad. Many people assume that larger noodles ought to be eaten warm, but they’ve been put off, I think, by all the times they’ve cooked too much spaghetti, say, and left it in the pan, abandoned and cold, where it just sticks together in an unsightly clump. Avoid that by draining the pasta properly, refreshing any excess under cold water, then leaving it to dry before dressing it. You can then enjoy your leftovers at room temperature and at your leisure.

While your dressed pasta is content to sit around, however, the same doesn’t apply to fresh herbs: hold back on chopping them and stirring them into the salad until just before serving, otherwise they will wilt and go soggy. Mind you, if the name pappardelle is anything to go by (“pappare” means “to gobble up”), you won’t be waiting all that long to eat it, even if you can.

Black spaghetti with pickled rhubarb, ginger and peanuts

I love the colour clash between the electric-pink of the forced rhubarb and the black of the spaghetti. Black spaghetti is dyed with squid ink, which gives it its colour and, also, a distinct briny flavour. You can buy it at any Italian deli worth its salt, but don’t worry unduly if you can’t get find any: regular spaghetti or linguine will do very well, too. And please don’t be tempted to try out black bean spaghetti here: it might look the part, but it really doesn’t work in this context. This salad is lovely as it is or served with any grilled fish or seafood, salmon or calamari especially. Serves four.

100ml cider vinegar
30g caster sugar
150g forced rhubarb, cut on an angle into strips, 1mm thick and 7-8cm long
½ small red onion, peeled and cut into very thin half-rings (use a mandoline)
3cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin julienne strips
300g dried squid ink spaghetti (or regular spaghetti or linguine)
2 tbsp olive oil
50g roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped
20g tarragon leaves
25g basil leaves, roughly shredded
Salt and black pepper

Whisk the vinegar and sugar in a medium bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Add the rhubarb, onion and ginger, mix to coat, and set aside for 30 minutes, stirring every five minutes, so the rhubarb, onion and ginger soften a little.

Fill a large saucepan with salted water and bring to a boil. Cook the spaghetti until al dente, then drain and run under cold water to cool it down. Leave to drain, then tip into a large bowl.

Strain the rhubarb mix into a bowl, and reserve the pickling liquid. Put the rhubarb, onion, ginger and two tablespoons of the pickling liquid in the pasta bowl, then add the oil, peanuts, herbs, half a teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of pepper. Toss together well, divide between four shallow bowls and serve.

Pasta salad with pecorino and pistachios

Pappardelle is widely available, but if you can’t find any, use tagliatelle instead. If you want, add a few oven-dried tomatoes for an extra twist of colour and flavour: toss 400g halved cherry tomatoes in a tablespoon of olive oil, season and roast at 150C/300F/gas mark 2 for 40 minutes, until semi-dried and slightly caramelised. Serves four.

300g dried pappardelle, roughly broken
100g mangetout, finely sliced on an angle
35g basil leaves
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2 anchovy fillets in oil, drained, rinsed and patted dry
60ml olive oil
60g pecorino, finely shaved (I use a vegetable peeler)
60g shelled pistachios, roughly blitzed
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Salt and black pepper

Half-fill a large saucepan with salted water and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta for 10-12 minutes, until almost al dente, then add the mangetout to the pot and leave to cook together for another two minutes, until the pasta is just cooked. Drain, refresh under cold water, drain again and tip into a bowl.

Put 20g basil in the small bowl of a food processor with the garlic, anchovies and oil, and blitz smooth. Tip into the pasta bowl, toss to coat, then add the pecorino shavings, pistachios, lemon zest, the rest of the basil, an eighth of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Toss gently, just to combine, and serve.

Kale and hazelnut ‘pesto’ with feta, orzo and red onion

Yotam Ottolenghi’s pasta salad recipes (1)

These quantities will give you twice the amount of pesto you need for this dish, but it’s not worth making less, and anyway, it keeps for up to three days in the fridge, ready to be spooned over all sorts of other pasta, rice or quinoa salads, or alongside some grilled fish or chicken. You can make this anchovy-free, though if you do, add a little extra salt. Serves four.

3 red onions, peeled and cut into wedges about 2-3cm wide
150ml olive oil
Salt and black pepper
300g kale, stems removed (save them for a vegetable soup), leaves roughly torn into 4cm-wide pieces
100g blanched hazelnuts, lightly roasted and roughly chopped
150g feta, roughly crumbled into 1-2cm pieces
40g basil leaves, roughly torn
2 anchovy fillets in oil, drained, rinsed, patted dry and finely chopped
150g orzo
1 litre boiling water
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 1 tbsp juice

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Mix the onion wedges in a medium bowl with a tablespoon of oil, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of pepper. Arrange on a 22cm x 33cm oven tray lined with greaseproof paper, and roast for 20 minutes, stirring once halfway so they cook evenly, until soft and caramelised. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Put 50g of the kale leaves in a food processor with half the hazelnuts, half the feta, half the basil, 75ml olive oil, all the anchovies, three tablespoons of water and a good grind of black pepper, and blitz to a rough paste.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for fresh curry leavesRead more

Heat two tablespoons of oil in a medium saucepan on a medium-high flame, then fry half the remaining kale and a pinch of salt for a minute or two, stirring constantly, until it starts to brown and go crisp. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper and heat the last two tablespoons of oil in the same pan. Fry the remaining kale with a pinch of salt as before, then add to the first batch.

With the pan still on a medium-high heat, add the orzo and stir for one to two minutes, until it starts to toast and turn golden-brown, then carefully pour in the boiling water and add a teaspoon of salt. Leave the orzo to boil for six to eight minutes, until cooked but still with some bite, then drain; if you’re not planning on eating the salad straight away, refresh under cold water.

Put the drained pasta in a large bowl, add half the pesto and toss to coat. Gently stir in the roast onions, half the lemon zest, all the lemon juice, the remaining hazelnuts, feta and basil, fold in the crisped kale, then divide the salad between four shallow bowls (or serve it on one large platter). Sprinkle over the remaining lemon zest, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s pasta salad recipes (2024)


Is it best to make pasta salad the day before? ›

Yes, you can definitely make pasta salad the night before. In fact, making it ahead of time allows the flavors to meld and intensify, resulting in a tastier dish.

What is an Ottolenghi salad? ›

by Yotam Ottolenghi, Sami Tamimi. from Jerusalem. Crisp and fragrant, this salad combines lemon, tarragon, capers, garlic, spring onions, coriander and cumin seeds to bring its base of of yellow beans, French beans, and red peppers to life.

How do you make pasta salad not soggy? ›

Cook the pasta al dente: Al dente pasta is firmer and less likely to become mushy or soggy when mixed with other ingredients. Rinse the pasta with cold water after cooking: This helps to remove excess starch and cool the pasta, which can help to prevent it from becoming soggy.

Why does pasta salad taste better the next day? ›

At this point the pasta salad will have absorbed all of the dressing from the first time you dressed it, so it desperately needs more. This prevents it from being dry and flavorless and gives it a big, bold flavor — making it taste as fresh as the first day you made it.

What are the five mistakes to avoid pasta salad? ›

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Making Pasta Salad
  • Using the wrong pasta. The wrong pasta type or size can make pasta salad soggy, slimy, or just plain hard to eat. ...
  • Salting only once, at the end. ...
  • Too many raw ingredients! ...
  • Overdressing or underdressing the salad. ...
  • Not seasoning again just before serving.

Should you rinse pasta after cooking for pasta salad? ›

The starch in the water is what helps the sauce adhere to your pasta. The only time you should ever rinse your pasta is when you are going to use it in a cold dish like a pasta salad or when you are not going to use it immediately. In those cases, rinsing the pasta helps to stop the cooking process.

Are Ottolenghi recipes difficult? ›

We cook a fair amount of Ottolenghi recipes at home, because he's one of the regular food writers in our regular newspaper (The Guardian). They are usually fairly simple recipes that focus on a good combination of flavours - even as home cooks, they're not nearly the most complicated things we make.

What is the Bella Hadid salad? ›

Bella's salad is made with a base of arugula topped with cucumber, bell pepper, avocado and parmesan cheese. The best part (she says not to skip it!) is the balsamic glaze on top.

What is Ottolenghi style food? ›

From this, Ottolenghi has developed a style of food which is rooted in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean traditions, but which also draws in diverse influences and ingredients from around the world.

Should you cool pasta before making pasta salad? ›

There's no reason to wait until the pasta is completely cooled to add the dressing. In fact, if you do, you're missing out on an even more flavorful pasta salad. → Follow this tip: Toss the pasta with about two-thirds of the dressing while it's still warm, and add the remainder before serving.

Why does my pasta salad taste weird? ›

Vinegar and other acidic ingredients do strange things to the flavor of pasta when used in salad-level amounts. Ever notice an irritating acerbic aftertaste just about every time you've eaten pasta salad? That's the vinegar announcing itself, and it's not pleasant.

Is it better to undercook or overcook pasta for pasta salad? ›

The key to making better pasta salad is to break the number one rule of cooking pasta. Published May 22, 2023. When Cook's Illustrated test cook Annie Petito set out to rehab pasta salad's reputation as dull and flavorless, the first thing she zeroed in on was the pasta.

Why do Italians eat salad after pasta? ›

Serving salad after the main course of a meal is an older tradition in Italy, and nowadays it is usually observed at large and formal dinners rather than during everyday meals. Eating a salad after a meal can help digestion, while eating one before a meal may help discourage overeating.

When should you throw out pasta salad? ›

Things like fresh lettuce or cherry tomatoes will release water into the salad and make your delicious pasta salad become soggy. What is this? For the most part, pasta salad will last between 4 to 7 days if you store it correctly. Always use sealed containers or freezer-quality storage bags.

Why do you rinse pasta for pasta salad? ›

By washing away the starchy film on the pasta, you're guaranteeing that when you toss the pasta with your other salad components and dressing, the pasta won't stick together or clump. Each noodle or shape will be singular, cooked to perfection, and intact.

How do you keep pasta salad from drying out overnight? ›

So, how can you prevent this? Luckily, there is one simple solution and it involves only adding half of the macaroni salad dressing the night before and then adding the second half right before serving.

How long does it take pasta salad to get cold in the fridge? ›

The simple solution? After draining, dunk the strainer of pasta into an ice bath (equal parts ice and water in a large bowl) and get it cold fast. Mix and chill before serving. Pasta salad get better as it rests, so for the best pasta salad, all you have to do is mix and chill the salad for at least 30 minutes.

Can you make fresh pasta the night before? ›

Homemade pasta, however, can only be stored for around 24 hours in the refrigerator (although it's recommended to eat it within 18 hours).

Do you rinse pasta for cold pasta salad? ›

If you're making a dish that will be served chilled or at room temp—think cold soba, rice noodles, pasta salad—you do want to rinse so that you get toothsome (sorry) individual strands rather than one big gummy clump. Certain types of noodles benefit from a rinse in almost all applications.

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