Pasta salad with broccoli and peanuts adds delicious Thai flavors to a party side dish. Ingredients like soy sauce, peanut butter, rice vinegar, and red pepper flakes turn your Rotini pasta into an Asian flavor explosion. Add this to your list of summer side dish recipes for potluck parties, picnics, and weeknight dinners.
Best Party Pasta Salad
‘Tis the season for potluck parties and backyard bbq ideas, and this pasta salad with vegetables should be at the top of your list of recipes. It’s one of the best party side dishes when you’re heading outside because there’s no mayonnaise or other creamy base that you might worry about in the heat.
We use tricolor rotini for the salad but you can also substitute elbow or penne pasta if you want. The broccoli gets a quick cook technique so it’s softened but still firm.
This pasta salad has some of my favorite ingredients. The addition of soy sauce, peanut butter, rice vinegar, and red pepper flakes gives it an Asian flavor profile that everyone loves.
Vegetarian Pasta Salad for a Crowd
This recipe is a fabulous addition to any buffet table when you bring a dish to a cookout, family reunion, or other pot luck. And it’s a delicious vegetarian option that’s filling and full of flavor and texture.
Serve it as a cold pasta salad or at room temperature.
PARTY TIP: keep any salad chilled by filling a large bowl with ice, and then nestling a smaller bowl filled with the salad, inside the bigger bowl. The ice will surround the smaller bowl and keep it cool.
Can you use frozen broccoli in pasta salad?
While I don’t recommend using frozen broccoli for this recipe, you could use it in a pinch. But you should be very specific and use the frozen broccoli florets microwave steam bags, and cook it for the shortest time listed.
The frozen version will not give you the same texture as using fresh. It will be softer than quick cooking your own. For best results you want the texture and bite of fresh broccoli that has been lightly boiled or steamed, for this recipe.
Here’s the recipe for the pasta salad I adapted from Martha Stewart’s version.
How to Make It
This is an easy recipe to make ahead and keep chilled until ready to take or serve to a dinner party.
- Use tricolor Rotini pasta or whole wheat fusilli (corkscrew pasta)
- Fresh broccoli florets
- For the dressing you’ll need extra virgin olive oil, red-pepper flakes, rice vinegar, smooth peanut butter, soy sauce
- Fresh scallions and dry roasted peanuts or lightly salted peanuts to top the salad with
- Cook pasta until al dente, then drain and rinse under cold water.
- Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets into bite-size pieces and add to boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes – DO NOT OVERCOOK. Remove the broccoli into a colander to drain.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients until smooth.
- Add cooled pasta, broccoli, scallions, and peanuts and toss to combine.
- Chill until ready to serve.
- 10 ounces tricolor rotini pasta
- 2 heads (about 2 pounds) fresh broccoli
- 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced crosswise; to taste
- 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente according to package instructions. Drain, and rinse under cold water and set aside.
- Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets into bite-size pieces.
- Fill a large sauce pan with water about 3/4 full. Bring to a boil.
- Add florets to boiling water, uncovered, and cook for 2 minutes - DO NOT OVERCOOK. Promptly remove broccoli into a colander to drain.
- In a large bowl, whisk together oil, pepper flakes, vinegar, peanut butter, and soy sauce until smooth.
- Add cooled pasta and broccoli to dressing mixture and combine well.
- Top with scallions and peanuts and toss to combine.
- Serve immediately, or refrigerate and serve chilled.