No Cook Herb Pasta sauce

June 29, 2011

Author Notes: It’s getting hot and that means lighter food, and using the stove as little as possible. This easy no cook herb pasta sauce is just what the weatherman ordered. Essentially a nut-free pesto, it can be made with whatever beautiful summertime herbs or greens you have on hand. I used cilantro, parsley and scallions, but basil, sorrel, spinach, mint, dandelion greens, or even a pinch of dill would all be lovely. This is good warm, but is just as good as a cold pasta salad of sorts. Bring it to a bbq. Or eat the leftovers cold right out of the fridge.

The key to making this a great sauce, one that fully coats the pasta in a slick, even layer, is pasta water. Without it, pesto can be a little grainy. Globby. Just a little pasta water – I blended a tad in while making the sauce, and also poured some more in when tossing it with the pasta – invokes some sort of alchemy in which it turns into a smooth sauce. I recommend incorporating a dash of pasta water into all of your sauces. It’s an old trick, and one that works well.

Makes: about 1 cup


  • ½ bunch cilantro
  • ½ bunch parsley
  • 1 small bunch scallions
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • ¼-½ cups olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ¼ cups grated Parmesan
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
In This Recipe


  1. Combine the cilantro, parsley, scallions, garlic, and ¼ cup olive oil in a food processor. Blend until a paste forms.
  2. Add the lemon juice and Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Taste and add more garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, Parmesan, salt, and/or pepper as needed. Add a dash of the pasta water and blend until smooth. To serve, toss with pasta (this is enough for up to 1 pound pasta). Enjoy at any temperature.

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