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.
Originally posted September 2017 – pictures updated April 2020
ITALIAN PASTA SALAD
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 32! She used to tell the boys, “that’s when the bottom dropped out.” She had a great sense of humor!
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.
Knowing Your 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!
PASTA SALAD WITH ARTICHOKE HEARTS AND SUN DRIED TOMATOES
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.
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.
WHITE BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE
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.
Please give these other summertime dishes a try:
- Slow Roasted Veggie Pasta
- Summertime Shish Kebabs
- Coconut Lime Chicken
- Bacon Balsamic Macaroni Salad or Italian Pasta Salad with Balsamic
- Circus Animal Cookie Ice Cream (No Churn)
- Old Fashioned Chocolate Ice Cream
Save to your favorite Salad Board on Pinterest!
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- 16 oz of bowtie pasta, cooked and drained in cold water
- 1-7 oz jar of sundried tomatoes in oil, drained
- 1 red bell pepper, diced (or other color(s) if desired)
- 1 6.5 oz can sliced black olives, or try Kalamata or green olives too
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 cup fresh baby spinach, 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, 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
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- PriorityChef Colander, Stainless Steel 3 Qrt Kitchen Strainer With Large Stable Base
- Pyrex Smart Essentials Mixing Bowl Set Including Locking Lids (Clear), 8 piece
- Bestone Salad Plates White Porcelain,8 Inch,Set of 6
- 2-1/2 Quart Porcelain Serving Bowls - Salad/Pasta Bowl Set, White, Stackable
- Eddington 50012 Italian Olive Wood Salad Server, Handcrafted in Europe, 2-Piece Set, 13-Inches
- Wusthof Santoku knife 5 inch; Black
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 272Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 434mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 5g
The nutritional information is estimated and may not be entirely accurate, at times it pulls information for suggestions and options which may increase calories, etc. Nutritional information will change based on used ingredients, quantities used, etc.