Ravioli Pasta Salad Recipe

Trying to improve on typical pasta salads, this ravioli salad recipe features ricotta-stuffed raviolis, asparagus, peas, spinach, and toasted pine nuts.

Ravioli Pasta Salad

I've been wanting to do this for a while now - remix the ubiquitous pasta salad into something I actually look forward to eating. Pasta salads show up at every picnic, potluck, and work party because a) you can buy them at just about every deli counter in the country, and b) they are easy to make - if you can boil water and open a jar of pesto, you're in business. Before we get into the makeover, let's outline a few of the things working against most pasta salads:

  • Too much pasta, not enough other stuff.
  • Overcooked, unsalted pasta noodles. The one-two punch of bad pasta.
  • Too much dressing, often overpowering dressing.
  • The clump factor - inevitably, after hours in the refrigerator all the pasta in a pasta salad clumps together into a big mass, which shortly thereafter turns into a big heavy mass in my stomach.

I think we can do better, and without much more effort. For starters, I dropped the ratio of pasta to other tasty ingredients way down. I added lots of color by using seasonal ingredients and working in plenty of springtime treats like asparagus, greens, and peas. Because I wanted the focus to be on the flavor of the actual ingredients, I used a bit of good olive oil to dress everything, along with a bit of salt. Simple.

Now let's get down to practicality. I'm pretty confident this salad can stand up to the long car rides, endless refrigerator hours, and/or time in direct sunlight required of all pasta salads. It can be served warm or cold, transports easily, and is clump resistant. I had it for dinner two nights ago, and lunch yesterday.

The time factor: I wrote this recipe with just one big pot of boiling water in mind - no cooking each ingredient separately. Seriously, it took longer to boil the pot of water than do the prep.

Now it's your turn: This is more an idea than anything else, there are a thousand variations you can explore here depending on the season and what flavor of ravioli you buy. A couple tips - first off, keep all your add-ins fresh and seasonal. A salad like this only pops when you use bright, good quality ingredients (don't overcook them). Secondly, when you start thinking about other things to add to the recipe to make it more your own, echo some of the flavors that are in the ravioli stuffing. So for example, if you have a lemon ricotta-herb stuffing, add some slivered fresh basil and lemon zest to the salad. If it is a goat cheese-olive stuffing, crumble a bit of goat cheese and tear up a handful of olives for the salad. Make sense?

Super Natural Cooking

Book sightings!
Here's a list of places where my book has been sighted including The Cook's Library in Los Angeles and Powell's for Cooks & Gardeners in Portland, Oregon. You might want to call ahead to confirm it is in stock. Please let me know if you see it elsewhere so I can add to the list!

Book Signing this SATURDAY in SF:
Lastly, before I sign off for today, I wanted to let you know I'm doing a book signing at Borders Books at Union Square in downtown San Francisco this SATURDAY, March 24th. Come stop by, I'd love to meet more of you in person! Borders Books Union Square 400 Post Street, San Francisco at 2:00pm. Hope to see you locals there!

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Ravioli Pasta Salad Recipe

I used a ricotta-stuffed buckwheat pasta, but any standard cheese-stuffed ravioli will also work if that is what your store offers. Many of you might be able to locate a spinach pasta ravioli - this would be a good alternative as well. I came across some bright red spinach at the market this weekend (red orach German Mt. spinach), so I used 1/2 red and 1/2 standard baby spinach. Use whatever is available to you. I love the color the red spinach adds to the bowl, but the downside is it tends to stain the ravioli a bit (in the way rainbow chard or beets can).

1/2 pound ricotta-stuffed ravioli
1 bunch thin asparagus, cut on deep bias (angle)
10 ounce bag organic peas, thawed overnight in refrigerator
3 - 4 big handfuls baby spinach, washed (any stems removed - optional)
a couple splashes of extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
fine grain sea salt
Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Prep all of your ingredients ahead of time - cut asparaus, wash spinach, etc.
Into an extra-large pot of well-salted boiling water add the raviolis. After a few minutes, when a couple of the raviolis begin to float, add the asparagus and peas. Because the asparagus is thin and the peas aren't frozen, you'll need to cook them only for about a minute - really quick, just enough to brighten up the peas and give the asparagus a touch of tenderness.

Drain everything into a large colander. Immediately transfer to a large bowl, add the spinach and pine nuts, and gently toss with a couple big splashes of olive oil and a pinch or two of salt. Serve in a big bowl or on a simple platter with a bit shaved Parmesan crumbled on top.

Serves 4 to 6.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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I bought your book this morning at Kepler's in Menlo Park, CA (it's also at the Draeger's home store in Menlo Park). They had it featured on their cookbook endcap (yay!), but strangely enough, its primary home is in their Jewish cooking section. I wouldn't have thought to look for it there! I can't wait to try the recipes in your book. The food is so beautifully photographed, and the ingredients are exciting!


I used the lemon-ricotta ravioli from "The Pasta Shop" (available at their store in Berkeley or at Whole Foods) and it was wonderful. I always look forward to your new posts.


this is grete dish


I'm eating this as I type (or in between typing). So good! I used French green beans instead of peas. Thanks for the recipe.


What a wonderful spring birthday lunch I had for my friend, Joyce. The ravioli salad is so much the essense of spring. I added the juice of one lemon and its zest. Tonight I added some cold chicken to the left overs. What a great addition to my seasonal cooking.

Beth Lowe

Wow, this looks just wonderful! I'm planning to make it this week. I love getting your recipes in my in-box, as you always provide such great inspiration. Out of curiosity, I'm also wondering about a substitute for the pine nuts.


Heidi, I love your site. Keep up the good work. I've made a similar pasta salad (with variations) for years, and most recently last week for my husband and myself. Similar in spirit, anyway, if not in the actual ingredients. I have always followed the one-pot rule. I make pasta salad because I love it, and because I don't want to have a lot of cleaning up to do! Mine was different in the following ways: Shells instead of ravioli (a bit more pasta than in your recipe) Zucchini instead of asparagus Sauteed walnuts instead of pine nuts spring mix instead of spinach I also added . . . grape tomatoes, halved oil-cured olives fresh mozzie cheese, pulled into bite-sized pieces a wee bit of haloumi cheese, diced and grilled (I'd never used it before, and wanted to try it--totally unnecessary, but good) a splash of balsamic vinegar roasted red pepper from a jar, diced basil a dash of cayenne pepper for kick I thought I'd made enough of this version to last for two meals for the both of us, but we nearly finished it off for lunch.


Your recipes are amazing.

Bela Black

This sounds amazing! I'm definitely going to make it for the first grilling weekend in my family. I think I'll make it with cheese tortellini though, they're smaller and easier to mix up without breaking I find, and since I've never have asparagus (I know, I know, I grew up with a picky-eater mom) I'll make it with snow peas, bean sprouts, spinach and...kidney beans. Yes. And some toasted sesame seeds sprinkled over the top, and maybe some crumbled bacon... This is giving me so many ideas, thank you!


Your mashed potato dish from March 8 is a traditional Irish dish called colcannon. In the old days, home cooks would use whatever greens they had growing in the garden to make colcannon, usually kale or cabbage.


Saw your website listed in the Washington Post food email. So, do you serve this hot? Do you let the heat from the ravioli wilt the spinach?


This looks incredible!!! To the first person who posted that this doesn't look good because there's not enough pasta, that's the whole idea! The article even mentions that about pasta salads in general. At least this is a healthy, flavorful option not ridden with an unnecessary amount of carbs.


Your picture of this salad just made me look at my coffee and toast, and say "ew." Now I'm all salivating for something green and crispy. Yay for spring veggies!

food and paper

From the Washington Post: COOK IT I'm an avid reader of 101cookbooks.com, the lively blog written by San Francisco-based photographer/designer Heidi Swanson, so I was excited to learn of her new cookbook, "Super Natural Cooking: Five Ways to Incorporate Whole & Natural Ingredients Into Your Cooking, " which was released this month. Like a good pantry, the text is stocked with useful tidbits, particularly as it relates to a more wholesome diet. You'll get the lowdown on flours, oils, sweeteners, legumes and grains, with subjective thoughts on which to try and which to avoid or minimize. The aforementioned "five ways" to get super natural is also how the book is organized. They are, according to Swanson: building a natural foods pantry, exploring a wide range of grains, cooking by color, knowing your superfoods and using natural sweeteners. How that translates for someone living far from an urban metropolis (where virtuous recommended ingredients such as agave nectar, goji berries and teff flour are readily available) is a good question. In all fairness, Swanson does provide a list of online sources, some which are new to this kitchen explorer (Hello, Rancho Gordo with your heirloom dried beans!), but I do wonder if this will be enough to resonate with cooks in remote locales. I am looking forward to trying her "sikil pak," a tomato-based Mayan dip of garlic, habanero chile and toasted pumpkin seeds, as well as her "Espresso banana muffins" and "dairyless chocolate mousse." – Kim O'Donnel


Great job on the ingredient choices. Not only does it sound fantastic but it looks gorgeous for a pasta salad. Love that you noted how bad pasta salads usually turn out. I am know to put too much dressing in mine. But I love adding fresh veggies to the pasta salads. I am forsure trying this over the weekend. Thanks for the recipe!


oooo nice! picture is very vibrant and the colours just make you want to eat it! I recently made something similar with blanched spinach and pine nuts. My base was Farfalle [butterfly pasta] and grilled pumpkin cubes.


this pasta salad is sexy. i lov to eat it more and more

dinoy jos

hey Heidi - I sent a photo from my cell phone to yours on Sunday - it was a photo of your book on Display at Copia in Napa - did you get it? Sam


This pasta salad looks great. I've been trying to make pasta salad with more and more vegetables and less pasta. A current favorite is bow-tie pasta, broccoli, roasted red pepper, chickpeas, kalamata olives, feta and red onion with a lemon garlic vinaigrette and a touch of red pepper flakes. The ravioli has me dreaming of new variations. Thanks for this and all of your other great recipes. You've inspired me lately to use a greater variety of grains and far less meat than I was eating.


To finish the deal, you need to re-name it. The bad pasta salads you so perfectly outlined have taken down the name. It's like how boxed wine immediately conjures up images of stanky swill when now there are actually some very acceptable wines being put into boxes (gasp). How about "Garden Ravioli Melange?" P.S. It sounds DELICIOUS no matter what you call it!


This pasta salad looks great. I've been trying to make pasta salad with more and more vegetables and less pasta. A current favorite is bow-tie pasta, broccoli, roasted red pepper, chickpeas, kalamata olives, feta and red onion with a lemon garlic vinaigrette and a touch of red pepper flakes. The ravioli has me dreaming of new variations. Thanks for this and all of your other great recipes. You've inspired me lately to use a greater variety of grains and far less meat than I was eating.


To finish the deal, you need to re-name it. The bad pasta salads you so perfectly outlined have taken down the name. It's like how boxed wine immediately conjures up images of stanky swill when now there are actually some very acceptable wines being put into boxes (gasp). How about "Garden Ravioli Melange?" P.S. It sounds DELICIOUS no matter what you call it!


I spotted and *bought* your book at Moe's Books on Telegraph in Berkeley. NICE!!


yummy~~ it's easy to make goodthing to be delicious~ and hard to make the generalthing to be~ so, this is gorgeous~

YOYO's food

I finally got your book today! They have it here in Santa Cruz, CA at both the Borders and Bookshop Santa Cruz, downtown! Love it! I am sooo excited!

Emily (Five Flowers)

Hi- I just saw your book at the Books a Million store in Oxford Alabama. This salad looks wonderful, with the weather warming up its going to be sure hit!


Now THAT is a pasta salad I can get behind. One of my most loathed dishes suddenly looks tremendously appetizing!


You really solved the problem of too much pasta in the pasta salad. I love it. The picture looks great, I wish I could have a bite...mmmm good.

Monika Korngut

This looks amazing. It makes me even more anxious for summer. I absolutely love your blog.


Are folks having a hard time finding your book in local bookstores? I can't imagine why it wouldn't be stocked. It's such a beautiful and useful book! I picked it up at Pages for All Ages (independent bookseller) in Champaign, IL.


Heidi- I'm a several month lurker of your blog, love every update! I just got your new book in the mail today from B+N.com I can't wait to devour it... as it were. I agree with Maggie- visit boston for a book signing, I'd be there!


Yum: it looks so fresh and healthy! And I love that with the nuts and barely boiled veggies there is a *crunch* to offset the pasta.


first and foremost... congrats on your book release (i'm keeping my eye out for it!) you are such an inspiration. this particular recipe is a must try for me! this photo wreaks of perfection, as do all of yours. the colors make me smile -- something much needed today. thanks for sharing!


Gorgeous colours - so very bright and cheerful, and terribly enticing. I love the idea of using a stuffed pasta for this (especially a nutty buckwheat ravioli). A lovely light meal.


I make a similar pasta salad with fresh tortellini stuffed with mushrooms. I like using the smaller ones. It is really good. Thanks for all of your great receipes.


Wow...I love the versatility of it. It looks like my dream lunch. Thanks so much. By the way, when are you coming to NY?


They have your book at the Berkeley Cody's as well.


They have your book at the Berkeley Cody's as well.


Absolutely, the 80's obsession with pasta salads has become a drab! I like your take on it, like that ravioli is featured but not all consuming. Did you make the ravioli? If yes, how hard is it to make ravioli?


What would be a good substitute for pine nuts? I can't seem to find them anywhere around here.

Sugar Creek Farm

YUM -- the salad looks great. I definetly agree with your comments on what makes a pasta salad bad (especially salads drenched in too much dressing).


Oh Heidi, I want a BIG bowl of this pasta salad right now (lunch time here!) - it looks absolutely wonderful.


this would be nice with a thin tortelloni. there's a brand called "bertagni" that i get at fairway in NY in the pasta section. it's very light and not doughy like a lot of stuffed pastas and only takes 3-4 min. to cook. my 16 mo is addicted.


Hi Heidi, I saw y our book at The King's English bookstore in Salt Lake City.


Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been craving a good pasta salad lately for some very odd reason, but I loathe the thought of the dressing soaked, overcooked pasta with not much else to offer. I will definitely be making this today!


God damn that looks good! I'm definitely whipping that up as soon as I get a kitchen again :)

Mr Funk

This is beautiful! The red cabbage really makes the colors pop. I love the idea of lowering the pasta ratio and using just one pot. I'm looking forward to making it this week. Another great method, Heidi. Thanks!


Do a book-signing in Boston. We have a lot to offer out here and would love to host you... If you get a chance, book it for our best months - June-September... :)


This sounds exactly like a pasta salad I could devour in minutes!


this does look great - but it's autumn here, so i'll have to find some seasonal ingredients ... maybe roasted pumpkin (i'm aussie, so by pumpkin, i mean squash :) ) and red spinach, with a beetroot/feta ravioli filling. the red spinach really makes this visually beautiful, though. and i wouldn't want to miss out on that!


Your salad looks so good that I just want to reach into the screen and grab a taste! Well done!


I love this recipe! Finally, a no-fuss pasta salad recipe... Thanks Heidi. Also, where did you get ricotta filled buckwheat pasta? Glad to hear about the book-signing... I've been wanting to meet you ever since I moved to the bay area... will definitely try to make it! ~Rachelle

Rachelle Woods

This doesn't look very good... I like lots of pasta


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