Thomas Jefferson’s Garden Pasta Salad

June 27, 2017

Did you know that Thomas Jefferson was basically the master gardener? He grew 330 varieties of 89 species of vegetables and herbs at Monticello. So, I guess you could say this garden pasta salad would win over Thomas Jefferson. Everything in this pasta salad (minus the pasta) could be found in his own garden.

Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad


As you glance over the list of ingredients, you may wonder if Thomas Jefferson did in fact grow all of these ingredients in his own garden. Asparagus? Olive oil? Minus the pasta (and a few obvious items used in the dressing), the answer is an impressive yes!

The dressing for this salad is even olive oil based, and Thomas Jefferson LOVED olive oil based dressings for his salads. He even tried his hand at making his own. After he grew frustrated with olive oil, Jefferson started growing sesame seeds so he could extract his own oil from them. No kidding. He even had three different sesame oil presses. Fanatic much? So, there’s sesame seed oil in the dressing too.

Our use of just two different cabbages in this pasta salad might disappoint Jefferson, however, because he recorded planting 18 varieties at Monticello. Yes, 18 different types of cabbage.

My least favorite veggie of all time is the pea, but to please President Jefferson, I made sure to at least add some kind of variety of pea to this recipe. The English or Garden pea is usually described as his most favorite vegetable.

This pasta salad might seem more elaborate than your go-to recipe, but once you try it, you’ll wish you had known about it all along. It’s quite magnificent. And it’s oil-based dressing makes it the perfect side dish for an outdoor gathering. Even Thomas Jefferson would have been asking for this recipe.


Serves 12


1 package bowtie pasta

½ heads Napa Cabbage, thinly sliced

½ heads Purple Cabbage, thinly sliced

½ bag Baby Spinach

1 bag Bean Sprouts

2 Scallions, Sliced

2 medium Cucumbers, peeled and sliced

10 ounces Cherry Tomatoes and/or Pear Tomatoes, halved

5 ounces Snow Peas, quartered

1 bunch of Asparagus, roasted and chopped


8 Tablespoons Olive Oil

6 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

3 Tablespoons Sesame Seed Oil

1 Lime, juiced

⅓ cup Brown Sugar, packed

1 Tablespoons Ginger minced

2 cloves Garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)

1 Tablespoon Fresh Basil, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)


Make pasta according to package directions. Rinse and cool.

Mix salad ingredients together in large bowl. Add pasta.

Whisk dressing ingredients together in medium bowl and pour over salad. Toss to coat.

Mix well with tongs before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.


Author: Andrea

Former news reporter and Capitol Hill press guru, wife, mom, and pastry addict.

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