Best Italian Pasta Salad with Sun Dried Tomatoes
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Pasta salad is my favorite and this recipe for the Best Italian Pasta Salad is tops!! Loaded with fresh veggies like, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, spinach and dressed in a bright and simple balsamic vinaigrette!
It’s perfect to bring to your next picnic or potluck or make or use as meal prep, add a protein and enjoy the leftovers all week long. It saves beautifully and you can even make it ahead of time. In fact, it gets better with a little time.
Try tese other reader favorites! Bacon Balsamic Macaroni Salad or Italian Pasta Salad with Balsamic
I enjoy giving precise details in my recipe posts to lead my readers through any questions. If you’re just here for the printable recipe, feel free to click “Jump to Recipe” right under the title of this post, and you’ll head straight there!
- Artichoke hearts: You can use brined or marinated hearts for this recipe. If using a can of artichoke hearts, make sure to drain the excess liquid before adding them to the salad. You can also chop the artichoke hearts into smaller pieces or leave them whole.
- Bow-tie pasta: Cook the pasta until it is al dente, or firm to the bite, to avoid it becoming mushy. Drain the cooked pasta and rinse it with cold water to cool it down before adding the other ingredients.
- Sun-dried tomatoes: You can use sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil or dry. If using sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, make sure to drain the excess oil before adding them to the salad. You can also chop the sun-dried tomatoes into smaller pieces if desired.
- Red bell pepper: This adds a sweet and crunchy texture to the pasta salad. You can use any color of bell pepper that you prefer.
- Olives: Sliced black olives are a classic addition to pasta salads, but you can also use Kalamata or green olives for a different flavor. Make sure to drain the excess liquid from the olives before adding them to the salad.
- Parmesan cheese: Freshly grated Parmesan cheese adds a salty and nutty flavor to the salad. You can also use other types of hard cheese, such as Pecorino Romano or Asiago, if preferred.
- Baby spinach: Fresh baby spinach leaves add a pop of green color and a fresh taste to the pasta salad. Make sure to wash and chop the spinach before adding it to the salad.
- Fresh basil: Chopped fresh basil leaves add a fragrant and herbaceous flavor to the pasta salad. You can also use other fresh herbs, such as parsley or cilantro, if preferred.
- Olive oil & White balsamic vinegar (I used white, but dark balsamic, or any other vinegar would taste yummy too.) *A little more or less depending on the strength of your olive oil
- Kosher salt & Black Pepper
- Sugar | I always use all natural cane sugar
- Herbs | Dried oregano, Dried basil, Garlic clove
This past weekend was our Family Reunion, which is my Dad’s side of the family. My grandparents were of hearty German-Prussian stock; married in 1912, they had 7 boys over the course of 19 years.
My dad; the youngest was born when my grandmother was 47, this was back in 1932! She used to tell the boys, “that’s when the bottom dropped out.” She had a great sense of humor!
Family Reunion Fun
They raised their family through two World Wars; 2 of their boys serving in WWII; they survived the depression while raising a large family in a small two-bedroom house with an attic converted into a bunk room and watched our world change in ways we’ll probably never see again.
In hindsight, I would have given anything to know my grandmother better; I was only 14 when she passed, my grandfather had passed away shortly after my parents married.
A Little Family History
Ask questions of your elders; ask about what they remember from growing up, look at pictures together, talk about past world events, heritage, faith, hardships; we can learn so very much from them, it’s a lost art. That darned hindsight, always 20-20. In fact, we learned from this and have since been trying to capture video “interviews” if you will, of our parents and relatives to preserve some of this rich history.
Below are my grandparents circa 1910. I love this picture! A little smile on each of their lips and those hats!
My grandmother “Flo” born in 1885 and grandfather “Harry” born in 1891 (he lied about his age for years). Was it scandalous that she married a younger man and was “older” for that time period, marrying at 27? She held several jobs, was she a suffragette?
They went from horse and buggy to autos, from gas powered lighting to electricity, letters to telephones, radio, phonographs, and finally TV. From trains to air travel…all of the amazing inventions experienced in the 20th Century, things we certainly take for granted.
What a legacy they left their sons, they were not perfect, no, not one of us is, but I am so grateful for this heritage. I’m so glad that a couple of my Aunts decided we needed a family reunion back in 1991, we’ve been doing them ever since!
I thought I had heard just about everything about our family, but somehow I missed this gem! My great-Uncle Adolph (below) my grandfather’s oldest brother; fought in the Spanish-American war with Teddy Roosevelt! That’s a fun bit of family history!
While most of our meals were provided by the Y (beautiful place to have a family reunion if you need one, YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park) we chose to eat our lunch in our meeting room.
I digress, back to the best Italian pasta salad (you thought I forgot what I was blogging about didn’t you…admit it!). This would be perfect for a large family gathering, it makes a lot, and it holds up well in less than ideal conditions. Plus it’s outta this world — hands down, delicious!
How to make sun-dried tomato pasta salad
Start by cooking your pasta al dente, follow your package instructions and cook on the lower side of recommended time. Rinse with cold water in a colander and toss into large bowl. Chop red bell pepper into small chunks, toss into pasta.
Drain sun-dried tomatoes (chopping if desired into smaller bite size pieces) and toss onto pasta. Or you may use sun-dried tomatoes that are not packed in oil.
Slice (if desired) your olives (I used black, but Kalamata or any other type would be yummy), toss onto pasta.
For the most outrageous pasta salad, add grated Parmesan cheese.
How to make White Balsamic Vinaigrette
Add olive oil and white balsamic vinegar (or regular dark balsamic works too, it’ll just darken your pasta) to a mason jar with a lid, like this Loaded Italian Pasta salad.
Measure sea salt, sugar, basil and oregano, and chopped garlic.
Cover with lid (this is why I love making my dressings in a mason jar) and shake like crazy to mix and even emulsify it a bit.
Pour over top of salad and gently toss mixing all ingredients well. Chill until ready to serve, best if it sits for an hour or several, even overnight.
Just prior to serving, chop fresh baby spinach and basil and stir into salad, adding a bright pop of green and nutrients.
Best Summer Salads
Why not go all out and serve a salad buffet! My favorites are this Asian Ramen Noodle salad or this yummy Italian Chopped Salad with zesty Italian vinaigrette along with these others!
Green Goddess Salad with Chicken (Panera Copycat)
Copycat Panera Green Goddess Cobb salad recipe! This Panera Cobb salad is packed with fresh veggies, tender chicken, and a creamy basil dressing, a healthy and delicious option for lunch or dinner.
Best Steakhouse Wedge Salad Recipe (with Romaine)
Healthier Romaine wedge salad is topped with creamy blue cheese dressing, bacon bits, blue cheese crumbles, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and candied pecans; the best Steakhouse wedge salad.
More Summer Recipes
- Summertime Shish Kebabs
- Grilled Asian Pork Loin
- Coconut Lime Chicken
- Strawberry Rhubarb Salad
- Mexican Fruit Salad
- Old Fashioned Chocolate Ice Cream
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Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad
- Colander, Stainless Steel Strainer
- Italian Olive Wood Salad Server,
- Wusthof Santoku knife
- 16 ounces bow-tie pasta, cooked and drained in cold water
- 16 ounces artichoke hearts, brined or marinated, drained and quartered
- 3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, 1 -7 oz jar, drained, in oil or dry
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced (or other color(s) if desired)
- 6.5 ounces black olives, sliced, try Kalamata or green olives too
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 cup baby spinach, fresh, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
DRESSING / VINAIGRETTE
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, I used white, but dark balsamic, or any other vinegar would taste yummy too. A little more or less depending on the strength of your olive oil
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 clove garlic, smashed and chopped fine
- Black pepper to taste
- Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. In a large bowl combine cooked pasta, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, bell pepper, olives and cheese.Toss gently to combine.
- To make dressing, put all ingredients into a mason jar with lid, shake vigorously to combine. Pour dressing over pasta salad. Toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving for flavors to mingle.
- Just prior to serving, toss in spinach and basil for a beautiful fresh pop of color. cToss salad well again, adjust seasonings if necessary, finish with a final grind of sea salt and if desired ground pepper. Lasts for days! Great as leftovers
The Fresh Cooky is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.
About Kathleen Pope
Recipe Innovator | Food Photographer | Food Writer
Hi, I’m Kathleen Pope. Here at The Fresh Cooky you will find easy, mostly from-scratch, trusted recipes for all occasions. From speedy dinners to tasty desserts, with easy step-by-step instructions. I am here to help teach you how to make mouthwatering recipes without spending hours in the kitchen. Read more about Kathleen here.
I didn’t see artichoke hearts in the recipe, do we use them? If so how much do we use?
Looking forward to making this pasta salad. Thank you for the recipe.
Hi Zadie, sorry about that, I just updated it with the info for artichoke hearts! Thanks for catching that.
Brought this delish salad to a holiday lunch and it was a hit. Made it the night before and then added the fresh basil and spinach just before serving. Adding those fresh ingredients really helped round out the flavors that had marinated the night before. We enjoyed leftovers the next day and they were just as tasty! Easy to adjust ingredients based on what you like and have on hand.
So good with it made the night before! Thanks so much Caitlin!
This salad is fantastic, just like one I’ve made. So glad to have the recipe again!
This pasta salad hit the spot! I reorganized our pantry and found a jar of sun dried tomatoes that I had forgotten about and this was the perfect way to use them!
Don’t you love finding little treasures like that! Thank you Amy!
This is a great recipe for potlucks…always goes fast!
So, you had my stomach at artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes…but then, you captured my heart with the story of Flo and Harry! What a wonderful story. Like you, my dad’s family hails from Germany as well and had a hardscrabble life during the depression as immigrants.
Our family histories are invaluable …how wonderful that your aunt is keeping the family together.
See, compadres, that’s what we are! Or the German equivalent! Thanks for sharing! Hugs back, Kathleen
This is the best pasta salad I’ve ever eaten. We just loved how delicious it is and how easy it is to make!
We made this this week for having a summer party in the backyard. Just the family. It was great. Easy to make and delicious. The family loved it. It’s been so hot lately that it was great to have a summer pasta.
We grilled burgers last night and had this as a side — it was a HUGE HIT!! Thanks!
YAY!! Love hearing it was a hit Michaela! Thank you for sharing!
We grilled burgers last night, and made this as a side it was perfect!!
This is a great post and a delicious Pasta Salad! Thanks for sharing with us at Full Plate Thursday and have a great week!
I so appreciate you Miz Helen! Have a great week yourself, love Full Plate Thursdays!
That looks delicious! I was quite lucky to have my grandparents alive most of my life but I still feel like I didn’t really appreciate all that they lived through and learned until I was much older and even then I regret things like not getting my memere’s mac and cheese recipe (she made one with canned whole tomatoes that I just loved).
Thank you Joanne! It’s so true about our family, the adage of youth is wasted on the young is so true! The wisdom we gain as we get older…sigh. Wonder if you could piece together your mermere’s mac and cheese. I love tomatoes on my grilled cheese, sounds lovely in a mac!