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!
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.
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.
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.
Get the Recipe: Italian Pasta Salad with Balsamic Dressing
- 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
- 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
- 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.
More Pasta Salad Recipes to Love!
Hi! I’m Jennifer, a home cook schooled by trial and error and almost 40 years of getting dinner on the table! I love to share my favourite recipes, both old and new, together with lots of tips and tricks to hopefully help make your home cooking enjoyable, stress free, rewarding and of course, delicious!
Really enjoyed this salad! Will add some Kalamata olives next time!
Served with baby arugula & baby spinach. Definite repeat!
So glad you enjoyed it, Irene and yes, it’s a natural for adding olives (which I don’t love but I know many do :) Thanks!
My kind of meal! I love the combination of the pasta with the cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and herbs. YUM!
This is my kinda salad! Love all those flavours, especially the sun-dried tomatoes! They are always on hand in our home :)
Thanks Dawn and same here! My favourite :)
Oh my, this looks like it’s loaded with flavor, all my favorites in one bowl! It would make a wonderful side but I also think it would make a wonderful whole meal with a loaf of warm, crusty bread. YUM!
Thanks Chris and yes, I could definitely make a meal of this salad :)
I just love the color the vinaigrette lends to the penne! Makes it look even more scrumptious.
Thanks Milena and yes, it brings lots of flavour to the pasta!
This is my kind of salad Jennifer! I love sun dried tomatoes and of course I would put a handful of olives in there too. So pretty and hearty and perfect for this time of year!
Thanks Tricia :) I could eat this one every day. Love these flavours!
I’m sending the link for this recipe right to my son Sean Jennifer. He’s always looking for pasta salads to make for the week so he can bring some to work for lunch! He’s going to love this one!
I think he will love this one, Mary Ann! My daughter was asking me to share this recipe for her to use for work lunch, too :)
Just reading this ingredient list with the feta, the sun dried tomatoes, chiles, and the balsamic has my mouth starting to water, what a bold mix! I love all that curly kale, too, that’s a pretty way to serve it.
Thanks Sue and yes, I love this salad for all the bold flavours, for sure. I think that’s why it goes so nicely with the kale.