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Apr 7, 2021

Pasta Salad with Roasted Carrots and Kale

This pasta salad with roasted carrots, kale, sunflower seeds, and Parmesan cheese will become your new favorite pasta salad. 

Roasted carrot pasta salad on plates

The dressing for this pasta salad is so tasty! The ingredients in the dressing are so unexpected too! 

It's made with roasted shelled sunflower seeds, a couple of chopped kale leaves, grated Parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and black pepper, which you pulse together in a food processor! 

Once you've mixed all of the ingredients for the dressing, you stir in some extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice for such a surprisingly good dressing!

If you like kale salads, you will love this one. 

Roasted Carrots with pasta and kale

The rest of the ingredients in this pasta salad include a chopped large kale leaf, cooked pasta, and roasted carrots. 

For the carrots, I used a mixture of orange and multicolored organic carrots, just for a little extra color. Be sure to use thin carrots that usually come with the tops attached. 

How to roast carrots for this pasta salad:

Roasting the carrots adds so much sweet flavor. The goal is to roast them "just enough" to develop some flavor without cooking them so much that they lose their firmness. 

First, be sure to cut the carrots so that they are fairly evenly thick. 

Carrots in roasting pan

If you have some particularly thick carrots, you can cut them in half, but for the most part, roasting them whole works well with the carrots that come in bunches. 

You toss the carrots in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then roast them in a 500 degree F oven for 15 minutes, until just barely pierceable by a sharp knife. 

Roasted carrots in roasting pan

Once you've roasted the carrots, cut them into bite-sized pieces. 

I used fusilli pasta for this salad, but you can use whatever pasta shape you prefer. I like how the fusilli nooks and crannies capture and hold all of the salad dressing ingredients. 

Pasta tossed in a sunflower seed dressing

Be sure add the dressing to the cooked and drained pasta while it is still warm. Toss it with the dressing while it is still warm so that the pasta can absorb the flavors (P.S. If you used salted sunflower seeds, cut the salt amount in the dressing recipe in half).

After that, stir in the roasted carrots and some chopped and slightly "massaged" kale. So good. So nutritious. 

Can I make this pasta salad in advance? 

Yes, you can! This salad is best the day that it is made, but it will still stay fresh for about three days in the refrigerator. You might have to refresh it by adding more olive oil and lemon juice. Be sure to bring it back to room temperature before serving. 

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This month, the Foodie Extravaganza group is celebrating National Carrot Day, which means you get your pick of recipes using carrots! We post recipes to celebrate obscure food holidays! Our host this month is Sneha's Recipe

National Carrot Day Recipes from Festive Foodies:

More delicious carrot recipes:

Pasta Salad with Roasted Carrots and Kale

Pasta Salad with Roasted Carrots and Kale Recipe

Pasta Salad with Roasted Carrots and Kale Recipe
Yield: 8 servings
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
This pasta salad with roasted carrots, kale, sunflower seeds, and Parmesan cheese will become your new favorite pasta salad.


For the Roasted Carrots
  • 2 bunches organic carrots (the thin kind with carrot tops) I prefer Cal-Organics
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
For the Dressing
  • 2/3 cup (90 grams) shelled roasted sunflower seeds. If yours are salted, cut back on the salt in the dressing. 
  • 1 large kale leaf, stemmed and cut into shreds
  • 3 tablespoons packed freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 to 2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Several grinds (about 20) of black pepper. 
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of one lemon)
For the Salad
  • 1/2 pound dried pasta, boiled to al dente in salted water and drained
  • All of the carrots
  • All of the dressing
  • One large kale leaf, stemed and thinly sliced


To Roast the Carrots
  1. Heat the oven to 500 degrees F. 
  2. Peel the carrots and toss them in the oil, salt, and pepper. 
  3. Spread the carrots over a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes, turning halfway through. The carrots should be just barely pierceable by a thin knife. 
  4. Set the carrots aside to cool, and then cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces. 
To Make the Dressing and Assemble the Salad
  1. Combine all of the dressing ingredients except the oil and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until everything is chopped into a slightly sandy mixture, just a few pulses. You do not want to have a paste. 
  2. Scrape the ingredients into a large bowl and stir in the olive oil and lemon juice. 
  3. Add the pasta, carrots, and thinly sliced kale and toss the ingredients together. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. 



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roasted carrots, pasta salad, kale
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This recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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Would you like to comment?

  1. We eat a ton of pasta salads in the summertime. This recipe sounds amazing. Thanks Karen.

  2. This is a total comfort bowl. This is inviting bowl. I love the way you roasted carrots and added to the salad.

    1. The roasted carrots added such a sweet note!

  3. Ohhh Karen this pasta salad is STUNNING and you packed so much beautiful produce in there!


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