Easy Pasta Salad with Ferments

As the temperature continues to soar, hitting an average of 35℃ (and a RealFeel temperature of 41℃, egads), it’s hard to imagine slaving over a hot stove to make elaborate dishes. Hence, easy pasta salads.  

This dish was inspired by the giant pasta salad that a friend made for a morning meetup that lasted well into lunchtime. We couldn’t imagine eating anything heavy. It also paired perfectly with the fruits that the guests brought, now in abundance. 

While my friend’s version leaned Italian with its sweet cherry tomatoes, olives, and basil, Eastern Mediterranean cuisine, with its preserved lemon and parsley, and spices like cumin and sumac (optional), inspired this version. 

This oil-free pasta salad is an easy way to use the fermented garlic, so that you can eat it raw and reap its fermented benefits without being overwhelmed by the strong garlic taste. The preserved lemon also lifts this salad with lemony umami and fragrant complexity. Add tempeh, tofu, or mushrooms to make it more filling. This dish can be served cold or at room temperature.


  • 100 grams fusilli or penne (a little more than 1 cup)
  • 1 wedges of preserved lemon (large) or 2 wedges (if lemon is small sized)
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • ½ red onion
  • 2 fermented garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp sumac (optional)
  • ½ tsp chili flakes, to taste
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Juice of 1 small lemon (around 3 Tbsp)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (optional)
  • 1 cup cooked tempeh or fried tofu cubes, or sauteed mushrooms (optional)


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. While the pasta cooks, prepare the rest of the ingredients. First remove the pulp of the preserved lemon wedge, rinse the peel and chop the peel finely.
  3. Trim off the parsley stems and roughly chop. Dice the tomatoes and red onion, then mince the fermented garlic.
  4. In a mixing bowl, add pasta, preserved lemon, parsley, tomatoes, onion, and garlic. 
  5. Add spices, lemon juice, and olive oil (if using). Toss to combine. Add tempeh or tofu if using. Season to taste and serve immediately at room temperature.

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