Triple-Broccoli Pasta Salad

July 12, 2021
3 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham. Prop Stylist: Oliva Bloch. Food Stylist: Sam Seneviratne.
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 35 minutes
  • Serves 3 to 6
Author Notes

A broccoli pasta salad that is more broccoli than pasta. Like, four times as much broccoli as pasta. Instead of an overstuffed ingredient list, this seemingly absurd ratio is the secret to a pasta salad excellent enough to bring to a picnic and have someone ask you for the recipe. Broccoli stalks, which are all too often thrown out, get shaved into curls and ribbons, then salted and rested until they wilt, like the world’s quickest pickle. The florets show off two ways: Some are blanched to become bright green and buttery tender. The rest are roasted until their frilly tops become crispier than kale chips. You will have leftover chive oil. This is a good thing. Oniony, savory, and emerald to the point of neon, it’s wonderful on salads, grain bowls, you name it. And while many chive-slash-herb oil recipes direct you to discard the strained-out matter, we’ll toss it into the pasta salad because it’s full of flavor, and isn’t that what we came for? The pasta should be cooked a couple minutes past al dente, so that when it cools down, it’s just right (a process called retrogradation, which I learned about from this Genius recipe). The shape is flexible. If bow ties aren’t your thing (or aren’t what you have in your cabinet right now), swap in something similarly short: penne, fusilli, rigatoni, whatever. Same with the Pepper Jack. While I love the warm heat from the chiles, Monterey Jack could be seamlessly swapped in. Or go rogue with cheddar or mozzarella or provolone. —Emma Laperruque

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Triple-Broccoli Pasta Salad
  • Chive Oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 ounces chives
  • 3/4 cup neutral oil, such as grapeseed
  • Broccoli Pasta Salad
  • 2 pounds broccoli
  • Kosher salt
  • Neutral oil, such as grapeseed
  • 8 ounces bow-tie pasta (aka farfalle)
  • 4 ounces Pepper Jack (or Monterey Jack), cubed
  1. Turn on the oven to 425°F. Set a large pot of water over high heat to come to a boil.
  2. When the water is boiling, generously season it with salt. Add the chives and blanch for 15 seconds (this helps preserve their awesome color). Use a spider to transfer to a towel and dry as well as you can. (You can lower or turn off the heat at this point, but leave the pot of water where it is—we’re using it again soon.)
  3. Add the blanched, dried chives to a blender with the oil. Blend until the mixture is smooth as can be and bright green, scraping down as needed; this will take a couple minutes, depending on your blender, so be patient.
  4. Pour the chive oil into a strainer set over a glass and let it leisurely strain while you work on the rest of the pasta salad.
  5. Use a knife to remove the tough outer layer of the broccoli stalks. Now use the knife to halve the broccoli heads crosswise, separating the stalk-y bottoms from the floret-y tops.
  6. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the stalks into ribbons; any stragglers you can’t get with the peeler can be thinly sliced with a knife. (Alternatively, you can skip the peeler and finely chop with a knife.) Add these pieces to a big bowl and sprinkle with salt.
  7. Use a knife to cut the rest of the broccoli into florets. Add half of these florets to a rimmed sheet pan. Generously drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss with your hands. Roast for about 25 minutes, until crispy and browned.
  8. Meanwhile, bring the water back to a boil and add the remaining broccoli florets. Blanch for 1 to 2 minutes, until barely tender and bright green, then use a spider to transfer to a sheet pan where the broccoli can spread out and cool.
  9. Bring the water back to a boil and add the pasta. Cook for 2 minutes past al dente (just trust—or learn more about this trick in the headnote). When the pasta is totally tender, strain into a colander in the sink and immediately shock with cold water until it’s cool. Pat dry.
  10. Turn your attention back to the chive oil. The strainer should contain a green chive mush—add this to the bowl with the broccoli stalks.
  11. Now add the pasta to the bowl, plus ¼ cup of the strained chive oil. (There will be about ½ cup of leftover chive oil. You’re welcome! Store in the fridge for about 1 week and drizzle on everything.) Toss until the pasta is coated.
  12. Add the blanched broccoli and cheese cubes to the pasta and toss again. Season with salt to taste and add more chive oil if you’d like. Add the roasted broccoli on top and give a meager toss so some gets incorporated but most stays on top. If you have chive blossoms around, sprinkle those on top.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Bonnie
  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
  • dm2yers
  • sara
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

6 Reviews

dm2yers April 21, 2022
I love the big little recipes concept! I'm adding this one to my list of minimal recipes. What do you think about doing a thai basil, cilantro or mint version with something other than cheese? I often have wasted cilantro and when I get thai basil, it also often gets mostly wasted. I feel like this recipe would be nicely adapted to also use those herbs separately or together. I'd love to see your spin on using one or some of those herbs and swapping out the cheese for something else, maybe cucumber, daikon radish, and or carrot. There's a restaurant in Baltimore that does a delish fried broccoli dish that's topped with fresh herbs, I think it's a combo of mint and cilantro and maybe also thai basil.
sara December 14, 2021
Thanks Emma! -any suggestions on a dairy free option that isnt vegan cheese either (ick)? I know it probably boots it out of "big little recipe" rules, but figured I would ask :) -- and its okay to say "nothing, find a new recipe" because I completely respect when a key ingredient makes or breaks the recipe :)
Emma L. December 14, 2021
Hi, glad you asked! Lots of options: roasted cashews or walnuts, castelvetrano olives, diced salami or chorizo... Anything that adds a little richness and saltiness would be great.
sara December 14, 2021
yes!!!!!! Love all those ideas- salty, umami richness!!! Really appreciate the response too!
And loving your new cookbook! Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!
-Cheers from England!
Bonnie July 14, 2021
This looks like another winner! Thanks Emma!
4theloveOcheez July 12, 2021
This was a really great summer dish for our family. Will definitely make again.