Fresh pasta salad

If you’re bringing a dish to a party, or just enjoying the weekend at home, this pasta salad plus is the perfect dish!

It’s loaded with flavor and, believe it or not, the dressing has hot pasta water as a main ingredient.

That’s right, when you mix the water together with whole milk ricotta cheese and Parmesan cheese you get a really amazing base for a healthier salad.

I’ve adapted this recipe from a pasta salad with the same basic dressing. It is one of the most downloaded recipes on Pinterest.

I think you’re going to love this picnic favorite and to make it even easier.

I pour dressing over the top and gently stir to combine. Best served immediately. (Note: Flavors will diminish when refrigerated. It may be necessary to add a little more salt, pepper and a dash of olive oil stirred in to bring flavors back up.)


1 lb. small pasta shells or small tortellini – reserve pasta water

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

2-3 cups baby spinach

1 avocado, cubed

2 cups slightly steamed broccoli flowerets

1/4 cup olives, sliced

2 tablespoons parsley

1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese for garnishing For the dressing:

1 (15 oz.) container whole milk ricotta cheese

1 head (bulb) of garlic

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup hot pasta water

1 whole lemon, juiced

1 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper


Make pasta and reserve 1/2 cup hot pasta water. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pasta water. Drain remainder of the pasta and set aside. Using a sharp knife, cut approximately 1/2 inch off the top of the head of garlic, exposing the cloves. Place the garlic on a microwave-safe dish and drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the top of the exposed garlic cloves.

Cover the garlic with paper towel and microwave for two minutes at one-minute intervals. Let garlic cool and then pop the cloves out of the skins. (For more flavor, you can cook the softened garlic in a small skillet for just one minute or two on medium high heat until golden brown. Do not burn garlic.) Chop garlic fine. Make the dressing.

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, garlic, Parmesan cheese, the pasta water with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir or whisk to combine thoroughly.

Assemble salad. In a large bowl add pasta, tomatoes, spinach, avocado, broccoli, olives, parsley and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.


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