This Italian Pasta Salad is easy and delicious, with sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers and pasta, all marinated in an herb and garlic filled balsamic vinaigrette.
This recipe was originally published last Summer, but it remains one of my favourite Summer salads. I have updated the post and the photos to bring it back for this Summer's salad inspiration, too!
This Italian Pasta Salad is my favourite version of an Italian pasta salad and a Summer Essential Salad here. It features pasta, sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers and a bit of feta, all in an herb and garlic filled balsamic vinaigrette. A pinch of crushed red chilis in the mix gives it a tiny bit of heat. Just enough to be be interesting :)
This salad keeps well in the fridge, so it's great to have one hand for several days of eating. Perfect for lunch or a grilled dinner side.
Cook's Notes for Italian-Inspired Pasta Salad
This salad is chock full of flavour and goodies, so it's a little-goes-a-long-way pasta salad. This recipe will serve 4-6 as a side easily. You can double or triple if you're feeding a crowd. I love to toss it with some greens just before serving. The flavours of this pasta salad are lovely with kale, spinach, watercress or arugula.
I find that balsamic vinegars vary a lot in acidity/sweetness. Mine is quite sweet, so I add a tablespoon or two of red wine vinegar for a bit more acidity. You may not need to. Taste and decide.
If you like spice, add a tiny bit more of the crushed red chilis for a nice bite to this salad.
I know feta seems more like a Greek thing than an Italian one, but I have just found that Parmesan gets lost in the other strong flavours. Feta holds it's own and provides a nice salty note. That said, a stronger cheese like Asiago, finely chopped or crumbled, would probably work nicely, as well.
A quick tip! When boiling water for a bit of pasta for pasta salad, I love to use a large, deep skillet instead of a big pot. The water boils much more quickly and it is easy to stir while cooking.
Your pasta salad may seem a little liquid-y when you first mix it up, but the marinade will soak in to the pasta as it refrigerates.
I have confessed before that I am not a fan of olives, so there are none in my salad here. That said, a bit of chopped black olive would be perfectly fitting for this salad if you are a fan :)
Italian Pasta Salad
- 2 1/2 cups dry penne pasta
- 1/2 cup jarred sun dried tomatoes packed in oil (finely chopped)
- 3/4 cup jarred roasted red peppers (finely chopped)
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley (finely chopped)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1-2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/4 tsp crushed dried chilis
- 2 Tbsp dried basil leaves
- 1 tsp dried oregano leaves
- 1/3 cup feta cheese (finely crumbled)
- 1 clove garlic (finely minced)
- Freshly ground pepper
- Salt to taste
- Optional: Baby arugula, baby spinach or baby kale leaves, for tossing with before serving.
- Cook pasta in salted water to al dente according to package directions. Drain and rinse well with cold water. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, chop sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers and parsley and place in a large bowl.
- Prepare marinade by combining all ingredients and mixing well. Set aside.
- When pasta is cooked, cooled and drained, add to bowl with sun dried tomatoes etc. Pour marinade over and toss well to combine. Season with some freshly ground pepper and salt, to taste.
- Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Will keep in the fridge well for several days.