This Chimichurri Pasta Salad will leave your taste buds craving more. My easy chimichurri sauce takes boring pasta and elevates it to something magical. Be prepared to make this for every BBQ, potluck, and family get together!
This chimichuri pasta is not only beautiful to look at, but also has incredible flavor—thanks to my easy chimichurri sauce.
I don't know about you, but I get tired of the same old pasta salad.
Tossing cooked pasta with a homemade chimichurri sauce is a perfect answer to that problem. This raises the question...
What does chimichurri sauce taste like?
Chimichurri is an oil and vinegar-based sauce that's chock full of herbs and aromatics. It has a vibrant, bold herby flavor.
On your first bite, you're immediately hit with the tanginess of the vinegar and the smooth, rich flavor of the olive oil. Then the flavorful marinated herbs, spice, and aromatics finish it off.
The final thing you feel is an overwhelming urge to eat more.
This sauce is so good my husband always comments…
"You could put this stuff on a boot and it would taste good."
It’s that good. Chimichurri pasta—on its own—will bring any dish to life. This explains why chimichurri pasta salad is such a hit.
Chimichurri Pasta Ingredients
There are four basic components to this pasta dish:
- The chimichurri sauce (herbs, aromatics, chili flake, salt & pepper, olive oil, vinegar, pickled red onion) – You can make this sauce in advance!
- The pasta
- Sliced red onion
- Sliced tomatoes
With these ingredients, the dish is vegan. You can add feta cheese if you like, or a vegan substitute.
The Chimichurri ingredients
Extra virgin olive oil
Rice vinegar, or use red wine vinegar or standard white vinegar
Equal parts fresh parsley and cilantro, or use only one (this is for the cilantro haters out there!)
Salt & pepper
Red pepper flake, or use a finely diced jalapeño or other hot pepper
Pickled red onion
DO NOT SKIP THE PICKLED RED ONION!
It takes only 30 seconds to make. It's a simple matter of microwaving chopped red onion with vinegar. It's fabulous in this sauce, but also as a garnish for a whole variety of dishes.
The pickled red onion is the unique ingredient that elevates this chimichurri sauce over all other recipes. Trust me!
The quick pickle cuts the harsh bite of the raw onion and brings out its natural sweetness.
What type of pasta should I use?
We prefer penne pasta, but you really can’t go wrong here. Rotini is also great for this pasta salad, but pretty much any tubular or shaped pasta will work.
After all, the chimichurri sauce is the star of the show.
How to make chimichurri sauce for chimichurri pasta
Chimichurri is a no-cook sauce (with the exception of the quick microwave pickled onion). It really is just a matter of mixing all the ingredients into a bowl and letting it marinate for a minimum of one hour.
My chimichurri sauce is slightly chunky: I prefer to chop all the ingredients. This makes it almost like a chimichurri salsa, which is a more authentic than, say, my Spicy Chimichurri Sauce, which I blend smooth.
Plus, the bigger pieces make for a better presentation when you mix it with the pasta.
If you prefer a blended version, just blend these same ingredients to create a smooth consistency similar to pesto.
Step 1 - Pickle the red onion.
Finely chop the red onion, put it in a microwaveable safe bowl and add vinegar. Loosely cover and microwave for 30 seconds, then let rest. (You can also see my Easy Pickled Red Onion recipe.)
Step 2 - Chop the herbs
Roughly chop the fresh oregano leaves, parsley and cilantro and then add to a bowl.
Step 3 - Mix all ingredients
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together your salt and pepper, red pepper flake, rice vinegar, diced pickled red onion, and olive oil. Then stir in the herbs and place in fridge for a minimum of one hour.
How to cook the pasta for chimichurri pasta salad
I prefer to serve my chimichurri pasta salad cold or at room temperature. It is important to fully cook the pasta and NOT prepare it al dente.
Rinse with cold water to cool down and stop the cooking process, then drain well.
Assembling the chimichurri pasta salad
Now that everything is made, it's simply a matter of mixing all the ingredients together.
While the pasta is drained and still a bit warm, add it to a large mixing bowl.
Add 1 cup of your homemade chimichurri sauce (or more, if you'd like) and mix thoroughly.
Finally, add your halved cherry tomatoes and sliced red onion.
Right before you serve, mix in your feta cheese crumbles (if using, or a vegan substitute).
If you make this salad in advance, it's best to mix in the feta and a bit more chimichurri sauce right before serving.
What goes with Chimichurri pasta salad
Keep in mind that even though this pasta salad is a great side dish, you can also serve it as as a meal alongside any grilled meat.
Grilled shrimp, tilapia, skirt or flank steak, tri-tip steak, chicken: all are fabulous with this pasta salad.
Again, make sure to save the extra chimichurri sauce: it's awesome on top of all these proteins. It's even great over rice.
Can you freeze chimichurri sauce?
Absolutely! Chimichurri is much like pesto, which freezes well and is great to pull out whenever you need a vibrant, delicious sauce.
To freeze, I like to spoon extra the chimichurri sauce into an ice cube tray. Once they're frozen, I pop them out and wrap the cubes individually with plastic wrap. Then I put them into a freezer bag.
Then, it's a simple matter of taking out a cube or two as needed.
Want more side dish ideas?
We're finally getting into prime cookout, potluck, and picnic weather. It's high time to get out there and celebrate: I hope this chimichurri pasta salad will be the star of your gathering.
Stay safe. Stay well.
- 1 cup seasoned rice vinegar, divided (see Recipe Note #2)
- ¾ cup diced red onion
- ½ teaspoon of kosher salt (or to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flake (optional)
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped (see Recipe Note #1)
- ½ c fresh oregano, chopped
- 1 lb pasta (see Recipe Note #3)
- 1 cup sliced tomato
- ½ cup sliced red onion
- Vegan feta cheese (see Recipe Note #4)
- Add the vinegar to a small, microwave-safe bowl with the diced onion. Cover loosely; microwave for 30 seconds and let cool slightly.
- To a mixing bowl, add the salt and pepper, crushed red pepper, pickled red onion, and remaining vinegar; mix.
- Add the olive oil and whisk vigorously.
- Stir in the parsley, cilantro, and oregano. Let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, add the pasta of your choice to well-salted, boiling water and cook according to package directions for soft (not al dente).
- Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain well.
- Add 1 cup of the chimichurri sauce to the cooled pasta along with the tomato and sliced onion; mix well.
- Right before serving, sprinkle with feta cheese (if using) and drizzle each serving with an additional tablespoon of chimichurri sauce.
- Also known as coriander. If you don't care for cilantro, simply omit and double the amount of parsley.
- Use ½ cup of the vinegar to make the pickled red onion. Note that you can substitute red wine vinegar, regular rice vinegar, or white vinegar. In this case, add ½ teaspoon of sugar.
- Use your favorite tubular or spiral pasta, or pasta shape.
- If you're not following a vegetarian/vegan diet, feel free to use regular feta cheese. In any case, use caution with the salt: feta can be quite salty on its own.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 375Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 185mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 4gSugar: 3gProtein: 5g
Nutrition data provided here is only an estimate: if you are tracking this information for medical purposes, please consult a trusted external source. Thanks! Also, keep in mind that the recipe above makes extra chimichurri, so the calorie count/fat content is quite a bit lower.