A delicious cold Italian Pasta salad, with sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, arugula and pasta, all tossed in a garlic and balsamic vinaigrette. A summer staple salad!

Italian pasta salad in bowl with fork

Why you’ll love this Italian pasta salad

  • This delicious Italian pasta salad lives in my fridge throughout the Summer. I never tire of the variety of textures and flavours!
  • The balsamic dressing soaks into the pasta in the best of ways!
  • The added arugula, brings some greens into the pasta salad bowl, too.

Italian Pasta Salad Ingredients

Roasted Red Peppers – you can use jarred roasted red peppers or roast your own and chop.

Sun Dried Tomatoes – sun dried tomatoes packed in oil work best in this salad, as they are nice and soft and the bit of clinging oil only does good things to this pasta salad.

Feta or Goat Cheese – I love feta in 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. Goat cheese is another fine option.

Arugula – arugula is one of my favourite greens and it holds up well as it sits in a salad like this. You could also use kale, spinach or watercress, if you like.

Pasta – any short pasta is fine here. I like penne. Rotini is also nice, as is bowtie pasta.

Balsamic Dressing – I like to bust out my best balsamic for this balsamic dressing. As finer balsamic vinegars can lean more sweet, so I add a splash of red wine vinegar as well, if I think the dressing needs a bit more acidity. 

Recipe Tips

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.

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 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 :)

A quick pasta salad tip!

When you just need to boil a little pasta for a pasta salad, use a large, deep skillet instead of a big pot. The water boils much more quickly and it is easy to stir while cooking, to prevent sticking.

Italian pasta salad in bowl with fork

Making ahead and storing

If making well ahead, make the salad, but hold the arugula back until closer to serving.

This salad keeps well in the fridge for several days, so it’s great to have on hand for a quick lunch or a dinner side.

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Italian pasta salad in bowl with fork

Get the Recipe: Italian Pasta Salad with Balsamic Dressing

A delicious cold Italian pasta salad, with sun dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers, all in a garlic balsamic dressing.
5 stars from 7 ratings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 6 servings


  • 2 1/2 cups dry penne pasta, or other short 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

Balsamic Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons dried basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese, finely crumbled
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Salt to taste

When serving:

  • Baby arugula, baby spinach or baby kale leaves, added 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 balsamic dressing 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. *Mixture may seem a bit liquid at this point, but the pasta will absorb the dressing as it chills.
  • Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Before serving, add a handful or two of arugula and toss to combine well. Salad will keep in the fridge well for several days.


Be sure to read the notes and tips above this Recipe Card, for more tips, options, substitutions and variations for this recipe!
Cuisine: American, Canadian
Course: Salad
Serving: 1serving, Calories: 394kcal, Carbohydrates: 41g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 14g, Cholesterol: 7mg, Sodium: 368mg, Potassium: 352mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 540IU, Vitamin C: 22mg, Calcium: 106mg, Iron: 3mg
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