The Best Pasta Salad: Romesco

I am a sucker for pasta and potato salads. Japanese potato salad. Hawaiian mac salad. Egg salad. There’s something about the combination of mayonnaise and starch or carbs that I can’t resist. The tricky part is, these types of salads don’t keep very well. And they’re certainly not appetizing on hot summer days or at room temperature.

That’s where this Romesco pasta salad comes in. The key is the toasted walnuts and fusilli pasta cooked just a little before it’s fully al dente. The pasta gets all the itty bitties of bread crumbs and walnuts into the ridges, while still holding the lovely roasted red pepper sauce.

I made this for a pool party and it was a hit.

Ingredients (serves 6)

1 bag of fusilli pasta

3 – 5 slices of roasted red peppers in a jar

2 tbsp of grated parmesan (but really, use as much parmesan as you like)

1 cup of unseasoned walnuts

1/4 cup of panko bread crumbs

1 medium-sized lemon

1 garlic clove

1 tsp of red pepper flakes

1/2 cup of olive oil

1 can of tomatoes

1 handful of basil


In a conventional or toaster oven, put half the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a blender add the roasted red peppers, lemon juice, garlic, and the toasted walnuts. Blend until smooth, but allow for some thickness. Slowly add all the olive oil while blending.

Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water. Remove from the water 1 minute before the package instructions direct. Rinse with cold water and toss with olive oil to avoid sticking.

Transfer pasta into a large bowl and toss with half the romesco sauce.

Heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil in a pan. Add panko breadcrumbs lemon zest, and red pepper flakes. Cook until breadcrumbs turn golden brown.

Add the remaining romesco sauce to the pasta. Add breadcrumb mixture and whole tomatoes. Fold ingredients in. Top with grated parmesan and basil leaves.

This one is a crowd pleaser to bring to your next picnic, BBQ, or potluck.