summer-pea-and-roasted-red-pepper-pasta-salad Recipes

summer pea and roasted red pepper pasta salad

I’ve spent way too much time this summer trying to dream up a pasta salad that wasn’t boring, or predictable, or well, you know, the kind of familiar pasta salad territory you don’t need me to go over for you. Because I love a good pasta salad, I just don’t find them often. Usually, they’re missing the freshness you’d expect from something you eat in the summer, when the markets are bursting at the seams with peak-season produce. Often the dressing is a throw-away, either a too-plain vinaigrette or heaps of mayonnaise, lending itself to more of a mass than a salad. So I knew what I didn’t want, I just hadn’t figured out what I did.

fresh peas in pods

Not for the first time, the inspiration came from a little French restaurant in our neighborhood, which along with the usual deliciousness — roasted chicken, steak frites, mussels, yes please — always tucks some sort of straight-from-the-market freshness on the specials. It said “Five Bean Salad” but what arrived was a plate, no, platter of al dente shell peas and snow peas and skinny green beans and fat yellow beans and sugar snaps and cranberry beans and favas, tossed in a roasted red pepper sauce with little bits of chevre tucked within. It was like a plate of summer, and even though I am so not the finish-your-plate-even-if-you’re-full-type the thought of letting even one fresh pea go to waste felt even more wrong and so I ate the whole thing and look at that folks! I guess preggo finally has her appetite back. Or was emphatically craving green vegetables.

snow peas

shells

Needless to say, that dish went right into this salad, though I skimped on the beans because I lack a sous chef and no pasta salad should take hours to prepare. And you can get to the pasta and whatever peas or beans you have on hand and just stop there, or you can continue with a vinaigrette that might be my new favorite. Make extra, I think you’ll be glad you did.

peas nested in shells

One year ago: Key Lime Meltaways
Two years ago: Mixed Bean Salad

Summer Pea and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad

This salad would also be fantastic finished with some slivered herbs, like basil, bits of soft goat cheese or crumbled feta or grated Parmesan, but really, it doesn’t need any of that to taste great. Promise.

1 pound of small pasta (I used shells because I imagined the peas would nest in there and gah, such cuteness)
1/4 pound snow pea pods, ends trimmed
1/2 pound fresh summer peas, which yielded about 1 cup once shelled
3/4 to 1 cup Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a small ice water bath. Boil the snow pea pods for about two minutes, or until just barely cooked but still crisp. Scoop them out with a large slotted spoon and drop them in the ice water bath. Cook the peas for about 10 minutes (once again, this will be al dente, you can cook them longer if you prefer them softer), scoop them out with a large slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice water bath as well. Drain both peas. Cut the snow peas into thin slivers.

Add the pasta into the boiling water and cook it according to package instructions. Drain and let cool, then toss in a large bowl with peas and Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette, seasoning to taste.

Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette

Please don’t limit your use of this to just pasta salad, though, I can say with absolutely no bias that it is awesome in it, but that’s no reason not to toss this with white beans for a quick bean salad or what your choice mix of greens are.

I like to slow-roast bell peppers in the oven at 350 for one hour, giving them a quarter turn with tongs every fifteen minutes so they get evenly blistered — then letting them cool and peeling them. I know it’s faster to blacken them over a gas flame, but the pepper never gets as supple and sweet as I want it to, but hey, that’s just personal preference. You know, in case you wanted to know.

Makes about one cup of dressing

1 red bell pepper, roasted, skinned and seeded or the equivalent from a jar, drained
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (and up to 2 tablespoons more if you, like us, like that extra bite in your dressing)
1 tablespoon chopped shallot (about 1 small)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Several grinds of black pepper

Puree the red bell pepper in a food processor or blender as much as possible, then add the remaining ingredients and running the machine until the dressing is silky smooth. Adjust the vinegar level and seasonings to taste.

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133 comments on summer pea and roasted red pepper pasta salad

  1. Sarah

    Hi Deb – what’s the name of this restaurant? The salad sounds like something the world (or at least people within an hour radius) should try. I feel the same way about not wasting fresh vegetables. You only get them for such a short period of time, and really, it can hardly be counted as an indulgence. You’re just stuffing yourself with healthiness.

    1. deb

      Sarah — A very tiny place on East 12th called Resto Leon, that I’ll be very sad if talking it up will mean that we now have to wait for a table. [How New Yorker of me.] It is not actually on their menu, but they do often have market specials where they throw together whatever they can get their hands on in a way that continually inspires me. (Their asparagus salad led to this this, however indirectly.)

  2. I’m going to save this for summer. I live in the “other hemisphere”, so I’m always trying your 6-months old recipes. Say I have the most perfect chocolaty chocolate cake waiting to be eaten. =) Thanks Deb!

  3. How funny, talking about Resto Leon………Once Upon a Tart on Sullivan St. in Soho also makes a great pasta salad with a roasted red pepper vinaigrette.
    I made their sundried tomatoe vinaigrette and used it on everything!
    I love pasta with peas, and shells are my favorite.
    Looks delicious!

  4. I knew I was sitting down at my computer before heading to the Greenmarket for a reason! Thanks for reminding me about how much I love summer peas. It’s now written on this morning’s shopping list.

  5. Linda Y

    thanks for always treating us to wonderful recipes, photographs & fun copy! cannot wait to create the dressing!… & your goat cheese,asparagus & lemon pasta sounds perfect!
    thanx for sharing resto leon…will give it a try!

  6. Patrice

    Thank you for inspiring us with a summer dish that is just perfect for summer. The photos were gorgeous. Heading to the farmer’s market now! If I might comment on the add just below the recipe though. Is it just me, or does it seem a little out of place? Do you have control over the ads on your site? Not sure it feels right.

  7. Shazza

    My mother in law makes the best pasta salads, actually the only ones I’ll eat anymore (at least until I saw this recipe). Being a vegetable hound hers are chock full of sugar snap peas, zucchini, carrots, etc…but what sets hers apart I think is that she first dresses the pasta with a spicy vinaigrette while it is still warm, so it absorbs all that spicy goodness! Then when it’s cold and she’s added her veggies, she moistens it back up with a bit of mayo. It is simply perfection. So I’m thinking I’ll make this one but add the dressing to the pasta while it’s still warm and finish with a bit of olive oil before serving!

    Getting close, Deb!

    Shazza
    Longtime reader, but first time poster…

  8. deb

    Patrice — Yes, we have some control. I see an A1 steak sauce ad but often different ads show in different markets, and ads that come up change minute to minute. I don’t fuss over them unless they’re outright offensive.

  9. Shel

    One of the greatest parts of my morning is coming to your site to find what’s you’ve cooked up. Today, my eyes leaped out of my head (definitely should have eaten breakfast first, now I’m starving!) and I can’t wait to try. I had my eye on shells at our local Italian store and passed as I was afraid I’d just slather them with butter cheese and call it a day. Definitely going back to pick them up for this tasty salad instead. Thanks Deb for always sharing and inspiring.

  10. Wow. This looks really, really good. This is a great pea year in New England. The peppers are just coming into season here in my VT garden, ( a little late with all the rain and cooler temps, should have kept the hoop house on!). I am dying to try this recipe right away ! Thank you so much for the seasonal content. Also thank you for the fruit topping recommendations from your last post… most appreciated !
    -Michaela

  11. Funnily enough, I made a pasta salad yesterday, using (hollowed) gnocchi-shaped pasta (all the better to contain the goodness, I figured), flaked grilled salmon, steamed haricots verts and snow peas, cherry tomatoes, dill, spring onions, garlic (and the kitchen sink, pretty much) and my husband, who had deemed the pasta too “chunky”, loved the finished dish, with its stuffed morsels of deliciousness.
    Like yours!

  12. Karen

    I love the picture of those little peas nestled into the pasta shells. We’re expecting our next ‘sweet pea’ in a few weeks and that is what jumps out at me.
    I ate a 7 course meal the other week – it’s nice to have my appetite back too.

  13. Mary

    What a great recipe, at such a wonderful time. I have several occasions RIGHT NOW that need a fabulous summer dish to share. It’s HOT in Texas right now, so I’m going to use the jarred peppers. I love being able to show up with something no one else has seen or tasted, and that looks gorgeous, too!

  14. *This* is exactly why I do not eat pasta salads – when something like this is out in the world, the others kind of pale into blehness in comparison.

  15. Congratulations on getting you appetite back – it’s a good feeling, isn’t it? (Sometimes too good. Moderation – what’s that?) This salad looks so fresh and delicious. I’d imagine the sweetness of the peas is a beautiful ying-yang with the acid in the vinaigrette. By the way, that vinaigrette is going to be a regular in our house.

  16. Shannon

    This is awesome! I had just put a pot of water on to boil for pasta and came to your site looking for something to do with peas, so I was super excited to try this. It’s fantastic. Thanks! :)

  17. Kate

    Will be trying this vinaigrette soon. Sounds like great flavor, better for you and much prettier than mayo too. I baked the peach and crème fraîche pie last night for our study and it was wonderful. Thankfully, not everyone showed… so I got to polish off the last piece this morning cold. Can’t decide which way is better… no doubt I will have to make another taste test!

  18. Ooooh, that sounds delicious, and I happen to have nearly all the ingredients; I see this in my future!

    Also, I think the photo of the peas in their pods (second photo) is one of my favorites on this site. I feel like I’m always drooling over your photography, but, well, the drooling continues – I LOVE your photography. :-)

  19. Deb, have you ever considered making a SK cookbook? The tone, the photos, and of course, the recipes–I think I’d buy it, to have something to flip through while I’m cooking instead of having to drag the laptop into the perilous perilous kitchen. Yes?

  20. AnnieM

    I am in New England and I got the Bible ad on my site too…I thought it was actually very appropriate as the ad states: “Give Peace a Chance” ; not only do I like the ad…but it had a cute way of linking it to the recipe…(peace=peas :) Not sure if it was intentional..but adorable.

  21. One of the traditions I continued when I moved to the southern hemisphere was the making of a pasta salad (the pasta always has to be little shells, with baby peas and the smallest prawns you can find) to welcome summer. You can always tell it’s summer when the pasta salad makes it’s appearance on the dining table. Over the years I have lightened up the mayo based dressing by adding greek yoghurt instead of mayo, but the salad has to be made with shell pasta to encourage the nestling of peas/shrimp inside.
    So even though I am looking at a some beautiful beef neck bones (for soup) and some osso bucco (for the slow cooker)for today’s “to cook” list, I am going to mark my calendar to give my pasta salad a “face lift” per your recipe once summer finally makes it to Oz.
    Or maybe I won’t wait.

  22. Yumm! I am an absolute sucker for capsicum in dressings and sauces. I can tell this is going to be a favourite. Sigh! Lovely post – as always.

  23. chavi

    No one commented on the ‘pea in the pod’ pun?? I’m surprised you left that out of the post altogether – it’s so your style! :)

  24. Sarah

    Gah, looks so great.
    It’s amazing that all you’re eating as a pregnant woman is beans and veggies and stuff. If I was in your situation I would use it as an excuse to eat. A LOT. of chocolate.

  25. Weezie

    Having me some pasta salad tonight! Looks delish. Re roasting peppers: Cut them in quarters from pole to pole, then roast cut side down. Eliminates having to rotate them and cuts down the roasting time. I’ve never noticed a decrease in flavor from roasting them whole.

  26. This looks so delish, as I am finally a roasted red convert. (Thank you, boyfriend.) My favorite pasta salad is a Contessa one, and it also includes a flavor boost of sundried tomatoes in the vinagrette. I’d invite you to check out my blog to see it, but it’s broken. Hopefully, this is soon to be fixed. Meanwhile, I’ll just have to make this and save the pictures for late. :)

    1. deb

      Judith — Absolutely. These are fresh peas; 10 minutes leaves them pretty al dente. If you like yours to actually crunch, do so for less.

      Arlys — Yes, I would refrigerate leftover dressing. It has fresh ingredients in it.

      Nevis — Definitely. Though I might dial back the vinegar for a warm dish, maybe use lemon juice instead.

  27. I was going to talk about the roasted red pepper vinegarette -mmm!- but got distracted by talk of ads: you want to know what I see every single time I come on SK? I read a delicious recipe… and then I get: ‘one tip to a flat stomach! Cut down 3lb of belly fat with this secret!’… X__X. Siiigh. It’s rarely enough to put me off though, haha.

  28. deb

    The pods were discarded and those slivers are the snow peas… which I realize now the recipe doesn’t mention (that I chopped them). Will update to clarify.

  29. joanne

    Deb,

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Plain and simply, you inspire me. My husband thanks you as well as he is the beneficiary of your inspiration!

  30. janet

    Made it today- was delicious- no one had fresh peas : ( so I used frozen, thawed petite peas. Forgot the shallot at the market so used a just pulled onion from my garden (small) and a 1/4 clove of garlic in the dressing- very good. I ate mine with the the goat cheese, my husband without. This is a keeper. Thanks so much!

  31. Brittany

    Just made this tonight — delicious (the boyfriend agrees)! I am already thinking about the next time I’ll make it.

  32. Kristin

    Can you use yellow peppers in place of the red? (I often wonder this when recipes call for roasted red peppers!) I’m eager to make this! Thanks for the post.

  33. Sam

    Made this for dinner tonight with grilled shrimp…everyone loved it, kids included!! It was the perfect summer meal with some crusty rolls. I have a mini food processor so my sauce wasn’t quite as silky smooth (I just noticed after looking at the pictures again), balsamic vinegar as it was all I had, amd fresh peas from our garden. Sprinkled with a bit of parmesan and we all cleared our plates. A keeper.

  34. Noah

    Our local farmer’s market (Kansas City) only had peas for one week this year! Since this is my first year here I don’t know if that’s normal or not, but it is extremely sad. Green beans and long beans are plentiful, and yesterday I saw some snow peas. I think I’ll have to give this a shot!

  35. Alex

    Great summer recipe Deb!

    Simple and fresh! I imagine this would be wonderful with some fresh torn up basil or mint thrown in :)

    YUM!

  36. I just have to ask (and hope I’ll not be banned from ever posting again), if you can’t get fresh peas will frozen work. Eeeek! Egads! Frozen?!?! I know they wouldn’t be the same – nothing can replace the taste that fresh ingredients impart – but just wondering if you would consider it as an option. And I’m guessing if you use frozen the cooking time would be different?

  37. Betsy

    This looks wonderful. Have you ever used dired shallots? Penzeys spices sells them- you’re supposed to rehydrate and good for when you don’t have them on hand. We have a Penzey’s spices store near us in Cleveland and it is the coolest.

  38. Mmm… Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette sounds AMAZING. My husband loves pasta salad.. and this just sounds too good. I will definitely be giving this a try soon.

  39. I have to thank you so much for the plum kuchen. I made it yesterday and it was good enough that both myself and my husband went back for seconds!

    I made mine with shiro plums from the local farmer’s market, and they were ripe enough that it was very hard to get pretty slices out of them but perfectly sweet and delicious.

  40. Ruby212

    I made this last night, with the additions of some basil in the dressing and a good hunk of goat cheese stirred in while the pasta was still warm. Delicious!

  41. Gina

    We made the dressing last night and used it to make a pasta salad. It was amazing! We had lots of fresh basil to add, and some good parm. Just what we needed as we are starting to get bored of the same old pasta salads. I was also thinking of using it in a hot pasta dish. I can’t wait to try it!

  42. Noelle H

    WOW!! what an absolutely delicious salad. I roasted the pepper in the oven as you suggested and it really did make all the difference! I cannot get any sort of fresh peas near where I live so I used snow peas (sliced thin) and asparagus. it was soooo wonderful and a nice change from the normal vinaigrette on pasta salads! I, and my dinner guests, loved it!

  43. tinarina

    I made this tonight, along with some burgers and fresh sliced tomatoes–a delish meal. It’s a great dressing–I added a bit of lemon zest and some cayenne. Peas are history here in the NYC farmers markets, so I used frozen, which were just fine.

    I also put some of the dressing on the warm pasta so it absorbed, and once it was cool, added the veg and more dressing, plus fresh basil. Threw in some leftover ricotta salata, too. Thanks Deb for a good summer recipe!

    1. deb

      Tinarina — I found the peas at the Union Square Greenmarket! But they were a tad busted on the outside, and clearly after peak growing season. (Though flawless and delicious within.) Small stand, close to the northeast corner; they had lots of romano and purple and other string beans.

  44. Jen

    This was really good! I’ll admit I’m a wuss on the tangy stuff. I only used 1 TBSP of the vinegar & added about a TBSP of sugar. I also threw in a handful of parmegesan/asiago/romano mix because we love our cheese in this household. It was just to my taste that way. Even my pea-hating husband ate a bunch, although he would have preferred it without.

  45. Annelise

    I made this last night, but sadly could not find peas at my local market (Chicago). So I made it with okra, summer squash, and snow peas. Still great! I love how the dressing has a strong flavor so you don’t need a lot. I put Romano on top and thought it worked really well.

  46. That dressing is such an excellent idea. I love mayo on pretty much anything, but for some reason, I find it really tacky (physically, and for my taste buds) on pasta salad. I usually just go with simple fresh tomatoes and their juices to create some sort of sauce, but this sounds like a great alternative. Thank you so much! I will definitely try this soon :)

  47. Giovani

    Roasted some peppers last night for a delicious chorizo, green olive and roasted pepper pizza. I used the left over roasted peppers to make this vinaigrette and I was blown away. Thought you might like to know there’s no ‘Vegetarian’ tag on this recipe.

  48. Stephanie

    I made this yesterday for a friend’s potluck and it was soooo yummy. I didn’t have a shallot so I roasted a clove of garlic along with the redpepper in my oven to put in the dressing. I’d probably do two cloves next time. Turned out really well.

  49. Bonnie

    I made this on Friday for a BBQ on Saturday. Used Barilla Plus farfalle, and was unable to find fresh peas so I used 3/4 lb. of sugar snap peas that I blanched and sliced – tried to get as many whole peas popped out instead of chopped! The dressing was super-tasty, cooked pepper for one hour, as advised. However, after tossing with pasta and sitting in fridge over night, it ‘set’ a bit and seemed to lose some smoothness, and the bite of the vinegar mellowed out a bit (too much?) Overall, a superb pasta salad which got great reviews!

  50. Lindsay B

    MMM- made this for din tonight. Used whole wheat shells and fresh asparagus in place of the snow peas. Also, frozen peas, which worked great- through them in for the last minute in w/ the boiling pasta water.
    Also, I added a little fresh basil and parm, as suggested. Fantastic! I did find the vinaigrette a little salty as is, so next time I’ll half the amount of salt, I think. A do again for sure though.

  51. stephanie

    I’m making this again for my dad’s birthday dinner. Last time I put the dressing on the hot pasta because I was in a rush. Most of the dressing got absorbed into the pasta which made me sad. It wasn’t dry but the flavors were absorbed a bit. This time I’m giving a cold shot of water to stop the cooking and letting it totally cool before i sauce it up. Plus I’m using two cloves of roasted garlic instead of the shallot and adding chunks of goat cheese. happy birthday dad!

  52. I really enjoyed the dressing! But because I used a whole grain pasta I thought I should have added a bit more as mine still seemed a tad ‘dry’. I also added shredded asiago cheese throughout which was an amazing add in! Overall, what a great fresh and inspiring recipe=)

  53. Looks lovely! It’s been a pasta salad kind of summer for me; it’s an easy thing I can make for my fiancee to take to work. (Although I generally do the “boring” option with a simple garlic vinaigrette, with lemon and zest if I have lemons. We like it. ;)

  54. Jane

    I just made this pasta tonight, and it was deee-licious! For anyone who is considering making this dish, definitely make extra dressing; not because the dish needs more, but because it is beyond tasty. I wish I had some extra right now!

  55. Matt

    Made this with asparagus, feta, and parmesano. Added Sriracha and roasted an entire head of garlic with the peppers (Tripled the vinegrette recipe). Came out wonderful, great recipe !

  56. I was worried about this salad halfway through making it, but I ended up really liking it. I used frozen peas, white beans, and sliced sugar snap peas with the pasta. The frozen peas worked great (not that I wouldn’t love to have used fresh, but I live in a small town with limited grocery options), but I could only find regular peas, not “petite peas”, so they’re a little starchy. I couldn’t find shallots either – not my most successful grocery-shopping trip ever – so I used half a thinly sliced red onion, giving it a quick pickle in the red wine vinegar (an idea I got from your pepper salad and use all the time now) before stirring them in with the rest of the ingredients. The salad has a nice balance of sweet and acidic.

  57. Cristina

    I used this recipe and it was amazing. Added a bit of light brown sugar to the dressing (because my peppers weren’t sweet enough), a touch of red wine and some basil. Instead of the pasta, I threw it on some romaine lettuce. This is my go to recipe site. Thanks for the inspiration!

  58. Shawnne

    My family and I have loved every recipe I’ve tried from Smitten Kitchen. This is a great one as it is, but absolutely STELLAR with the addition of finely chopped red onions or thinly sliced scallions to the salad. We have also added julienned carrots or raw zucchini depending on what’s growing out back. Way to go Deb!

  59. Kristen

    My entire family adored this salad. We were able to use some fresh peas from our CSA and locally grown sugar snaps as well. What a fabulous and unique take on utilizing the in season bounty! I cannot wait to try this dressing on countless other dishes. Thanks for the amazing and creative ideas!!

  60. rachel

    I’m really not a pasta person—with so many other delicious carb-heavy indulgences like pies and cupcakes and muscovado sugar straight from the bag (yes, really…I have a problem), I can almost never muster even the tiniest shred of excitement for a big plate of white flour noodles. This however, is genius. I’m officially obsessed with this salad. Not only is it delicious but it’s insanely easy considering how yummy and crowd-pleasing it is. I’ve served it twice at parties now, and both times I’ve received more compliments on it than anything else on the table … and it disappeared within minutes. I think it may just be the perfect summer soiree dish: easy to prepare yet crazy good, relatively healthy, and no mayo or other ingredients that are going to turn tummies if left out on the picnic table for more than a few minutes in the summer sun. This is now a staple in my recipe box and I’m looking forward to making many many more batches to come. YUM!

  61. Jess

    I’m in love with this dressing! Thanks for the recipe. To use up the remainder, I am going to make the salad soon (my peas will soon be ready); I was wondering if anyone has frozen the dressing? I have it in a completely full airtight container in the fridge. I;ve been wanting tho throw it in the freezer. Alternatively, I can just make more when I’m ready for the salad, but I thought I’d throw it out there. If I don’t hear back, I’m gonna try to freeze it and report back to say if it comes back out of hibernation just as delicious.(We’re going out of town for a long weekend and I don’t have time to use it on other food.)

  62. Jane

    I love everything about this, but is there anything you recommend to replace peas? I’m really not crazy about peas. Thanks!

  63. Courtney

    Made this last night and it’s amazing. Something a little different then the average pasta salad. The sauce is very delicious and I wish I had doubled the recipe and added a little extra to the pasta. It really absorbs all the sauce!!

  64. What a fantastic recipe! Honestly, I was in the mood to try something new and happened to have all of the ingredients on hand. The bf and I were pleasantly surprised at just how well this combination worked, it’s so refreshing and makes a wonderful side. We have a plethora of yellow onion right now, so I added some onion to the carrot mixture and let it all roast together. Just before serving, I added in a little bit of baby spinach as well.
    Thank you for sharing such incredible recipes. Your site is really inspirational in both your love for cooking as well as your keen attention to detail prevalent within your beautiful photos. So, thank you :)

  65. We’re having a heat wave in the PNW and a google search led me to you (yet again!). Thanks for the inspiration! I made this for friends who are coming for dinner and the taste test was very promising.

  66. Is it as good the next day? I’d like to make it the night before serving, if possible. I’m so excited to use up the fresh peas from my CSA box. I’m drowning in them!

  67. Christie

    I just wanted to let you know I have been making this pasta salad for a couple years. This dressing AS IS is my all-time favorite dressing. So good warm or cold. Just polished off a heaping bowl for lunch. Thank you for a wonderful staple recipe! You are amazing!

  68. MaggieToo

    @Louise — you know what protein element I think would make a great visual in this salad? Some tiny cooked black beans, in keeping with the “orbs nestled in cups” idea.

    I just made this today for the umpteenth time, and it’s become my top favorite pasta salad. Very unusual, and has a sort of Ottolenghi flair to it. I use jarred roasted Spanish piquillo peppers, and I add some shreds of Pecorino, and an herbal element is good too … either basil as Deb suggests, or even just parsley. It’s a terrific salad. And it looks gorgeous with shells or orecchiete.