Mediterranean-Inspired Pasta Salad with Sundried Tomatoes – a Summer Entertaining Dream!
First thing’s first: quick shoutout to whoever decided that we can take the lettuce out of salad, replace it all with pasta…& still call it a salad. They’re probably summer’s greatest unsung hero, right!?! 😎😉
As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing better than a homemade pasta salad during the summer months. This simple sun-dried tomato salad is a longtime favorite here at the PWWB House. I first made it years ago for one of Chris’ birthday celebrations. I knew it was good, but everyone at that party went full-on bonkers for it. It was such a pleasant surprise, especially considering how truly quick & easy it is to make!
The magic comes from a humble jar of sundried tomatoes. Simply blend them (along with the oil they’re packed in!) with lemon juice & loads of garlic to create the most deliciously simple sun-dried tomato pasta salad dressing. From there, toss it into warm pasta with a few Mediterranean-inspired add-ins, like fresh cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, & feta, & it’s basically the most delightful summer side imaginable!
Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad Recipe Highlights
You will LOVE this easy pasta salad with sundried tomato dressing. Not only is it completely delicious, but it’s also…
- EASY TO MAKE. It comes together in about 30 minutes, using less than 10 ingredients (many of which are probably already in your pantry!). Simple summertime goodness!
- MEAL-PREP FRIENDLY. It’s great served warm or cold & it keeps in the fridge for up to 1 week. Perfect for meal prep lunches or as a make-ahead party sharable!
- VERSATILE & ALLERGY-FRIENDLY. While it’s a naturally vegetarian pasta salad, you can easily make it dairy-free, vegan, &/or gluten-free! Read on below for tons inspiration to customize to your tastes or needs!
Pasta salad perfection! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make this Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!
Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
One of the reasons you’ll love this easy pasta salad recipe is that it’s made with just 10 simple ingredients, many of which are pantry staples you probably have on hand! You need…
- Pasta – Feel free to use whatever short pasta you love most! Penne, bowties, or fusilli work great here. Personally, I love the way the corkscrew shape of cavatappi (pictured) clings to the sundried tomato dressing, making each bite of pasta salad even more flavorful. DeLallo’s bronze-died pastas are forever my favorite!
- Sundried tomatoes – Learn more about these extra-flavorful tomatoes below! For best results with this particular pasta salad recipe, it’s important to use jarred sun dried tomatoes that are packed in olive oil. The fragrant oil is the base of the pasta salad dressing, & its built-in flavor makes the sun dried tomato pasta salad even more flavorful.
- Aromatics – Namely, a little garlic & lemon for a punch of flavor that brings the sun-dried tomatoes to life.
- Add-ins – For some delicious Mediterranean-inspired flare, bulk the pasta salad up with cherry tomatoes for freshness, artichoke hearts & kalamata olives for briny flavor, & a little crumbled feta (because cheese is always a good idea!).
All About Sun-Dried Tomatoes
What are sun-dried tomatoes & how are they made? ⇢ Just as their name implies, sun-dried tomatoes are simply dehydrated tomatoes that have been dried in the sun. The tomatoes lose up to 93% of their natural water content in the process, so their sweet & savory flavors both become especially concentrated, resulting in an umami-flavor bomb that is too good to pass up.
Can I use sun-dried tomatoes instead of fresh? ⇢ Typically speaking, sun-dried tomatoes are not used as a replacement for fresh. Their texture is chewier and their flavor is more intensely sweet-savory.
What kind of sun-dried tomatoes should I get for pasta salad? ⇢ Sundried tomatoes are available packed in a bag dry, packed in water, or packed in olive oil. Reach for the latter for this recipe – the sun-dried tomato infused olive oil is a bonus ingredient that adds tons of flavor to the pasta salad dressing.
Where can I get sun dried tomatoes? ⇢ After their American renaissance in the 80s & 90s, sundried tomatoes are something of a grocery store mainstay. Look for them near tomato sauces & pastas, or order them online.
How To Make Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Salad
You can make this easy pasta salad recipe in less than 30 minutes, & it couldn’t be easier to throw together!
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
Cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a boil & cook your pasta of choice to al dente according to package directions. Don’t forget to generously salt the pasta water! Why? ⇢ Since it’s the only opportunity you have to season the pasta itself, it’s important to season the pasta water really well. Aim to make it taste as salty as the sea! Learn more about How to Cook Pasta Perfectly every single time!
Prep the sun-dried tomato pasta salad dressing. While the pasta boils, prep the dressing by adding the sundried tomatoes & their infused oil!) to a food processor with a little lemon juice & plenty of garlic. Process until the mixture is smooth & creamy. This takes a solid 1-2 minutes, so be patient & stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor as needed.
Toss pasta with dressing. While the pasta is still warm, place it in a bowl with the sundried tomato pasta salad dressing & toss to combine well. Why? ⇢ The warm pasta absorbs the sundried tomato dressing, along with all its flavor, making for an even tastier sun dried tomato pasta salad.
Sundried tomato pasta salad assembly. Add halved cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta, chopped artichoke hearts, & chopped kalamata olives to the sun-dried tomato pasta, tossing to combine well. Tip! ⇢ Don’t forget to taste & adjust seasoning as needed. If it tastes flat, try adding a little more salt or lemon juice to bring out the flavors even more.
The beauty of this sundried tomato pasta salad is that it’s super versatile. You can enjoy it warm, at room temperature, or chilled – it’s great no matter what!
Feel free to enjoy it on its own as a light & fresh vegetarian meal. I love adding extra salad-y ingredients to bulk it up as a main. Try adding in a few handfuls of leafy greens, fresh basil, or some chopped cucumbers for some extra heft.
It’s also an awesome side dish for any summer mains – try grilled falafel burgers for a Mediterranean-inspired vegetarian meal, or opt for Greek chicken, grilled lemon chicken, turkey burgers, or grilled sausages – whatever you love!
Easy Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad Recipe Variations
This Mediterranean pasta salad with sundried tomato dressing is, simply put, a cookout rockstar. That said, there are plenty of ways to gussy it up to your own liking. Some simple variations…
- Easy add-ins – Add diced chicken or shrimp for extra protein, greens like kale or spinach, marinated fresh mozzarella for added creaminess, or blend pine nuts or almonds into the dressing to make a “pesto rosso” with extra richness.
- Make it spicy – Blend some finely chopped Calabrian pepper or up to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes into the sun dried tomato pasta salad dressing.
- Make it vegan & dairy-free – Omit the cheese altogether, or swap in your favorite non-dairy feta alternative.
- Make it gluten-free – Use your favorite gluten-free pasta. DeLallo has a bunch of great options!
I can’t wait for you to try this Quick & Easy Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad! It’s so simple, but packs a surprising punch of flavor – I think you’ll love it just as much as we do!
If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy cooking!
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It’s Pasta Salad Season!
This simple Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Salad is a longtime favorite here at the PWWB House. I first made it years ago for one of Chris’ birthday celebrations. I knew it was good, but everyone at that party went full-on bonkers for it – such a pleasant surprise, especially considering how truly quick & easy it is to make! It comes together in about 30 minutes, using less than 10 ingredients (many of which are probably already in your pantry!)
The magic of this recipe comes from a humble jar of oil-packed sundried tomatoes. Simply blend them with lemon juice & loads of garlic to create the most deliciously simple sun-dried tomato pasta salad dressing, then toss into warm pasta with a few Mediterranean-inspired add-ins, like fresh cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, & crumbled feta cheese.
The best thing about this recipe, though, is that it’s super versatile – it’s a great side dish to share for a cookout, it’s a meal prep-friendly recipe you can enjoy as lunches throughout the week, & it’s also the best low-effort summer dinner with big flavor. Be sure to check out the blog post, above, for plenty of easy variations & serving suggestions!
- 8 ounces cavatappi or short pasta of choice
- 1 (one) 8-ounce jar sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 4 cloves garlic
- optional: up to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 16 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 6 ounces feta, patted dry & cubed or crumbled
- 1 (one) 12-ounce jar artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed & roughly chopped
- 1/2 (half) 12-ounce jar kalamata olives, drained, rinsed, & roughly chopped
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is cooked to al dente according to package directions. Drain & set aside.
- Prep the sun dried tomato pasta salad dressing: Meanwhile, as the pasta boils, prep the sun dried tomato sauce. Empty the jar of sun-dried tomatoes into the bowl of a food processor – you want both the tomatoes and the oil they’re packed in to be in the food processor. Add the lemon juice, garlic, crushed red pepper (if using) to the food processor. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Place the lid on the food processor & let it run until the mixture is smooth & creamy. This takes a solid 1-2 minutes – just be patient & stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Once it’s reached your desired consistency, transfer the sun dried tomato dressing to a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked & drained pasta to the bowl & toss to combine well. Set aside, allowing the hot pasta to absorb & soak in all the flavor of the dressing.
- Veggie prep: Meanwhile, as the pasta soaks up the sun dried tomato dressing, prep the remaining ingredients: slice the cherry tomatoes, cube or crumble the feta cheese, & drain, rinse, & roughly chop the artichoke hearts & kalamata olives.
- Assemble sun dried tomato pasta salad: Add the prepared cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, artichoke hearts, & kalamata olives to the large bowl with the sun-dried tomato pasta. Toss to combine. Taste & adjust seasonings as desired. Serve immediately at room temperature or chill to serve cold. Enjoy!
- Serving Suggestions: This sun dried tomato pasta salad is great served at room temperature or chilled. Enjoy it on its own as a light & fresh vegetarian meal, or serve as an awesome summer side dish with Greek chicken, grilled lemon chicken, turkey burgers, grilled sausages, & more – whatever you love!
- Make-Ahead & Storage: Leftover sun dried tomato pasta salad is best when served within 3 days of assembly, though it’ll keep for up to 5 days. Store the assembled pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- 10-Minute Meal Prep: This sun dried tomato pasta salad comes together pretty quickly, but if you’d like to do a little prep work in advance to help cut down on the active prep time when you make your pasta salad, chop the veggies. At dinnertime, simply boil the pasta & prep the dressing – easy!
- Prep the veggies according to the Ingredients List, above: Halve or quarter cherry tomatoes, roughly chop artichoke hearts & kalamata olives. Store in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. (approx. 10 minutes active prep)
Recipe by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by KJ & Company, Kate Poskochil