Ring in Summer with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad

Are you all about the backyard patio parties right now?

I certainly am.

Vertical oblique overhead image of a large serving bowl filled with pasta salad, with a blue and white plate and a fork, on a gray surface with scattered fresh spinach leaves, with orange and white text at the midpoint and bottom of the frame.

We are currently going through a renovation in our backyard, so I am spending all of my time visiting everyone else’s backyards for inspiration.

Do you know how stressful it is to redo huge portions of your yard when you have two giant pups? I swear, if they aren’t running like wild animals and getting into everything, they are barking at any moving thing out back.

I love our dogs with every piece of my heart and soul, but they are driving me up a wall right now.

Good thing it seems like everyone on the planet is having lovely outdoor parties right about now. It gives me an excuse to run out of the house for some al fresco respite.

Vertical slightly oblique head-on image of two blue and white plates and a large ceramic serving bowl of homemade pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes and fresh spinach, on a gray surface covered partially with a black and white checkered cloth.

This pasta salad is a dish that I am really loving right now. It’s so perfect for bringing to every single outdoor event, whether it’s a simple backyard barbecue or a fancy lunch on the patio with the ladies.

The cool, refreshing salad is packed with a ton of flavor. There are so many different elements to it, from feta cheese crumbles to tangy balsamic vinegar. All of the ingredients provide so many different textures and flavors, and they come together in the most amazing way.

Vertical overhead image of two plates and a large serving bowl of pasta salad with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes, on a gray surface partially covered with a black and white checkered cloth.

Honestly, it’s so hard to stop eating this pasta salad.

When I whip it up and I’m driving over to a friend’s house, it takes all of my will power to stop myself from sneaking a noodle at every single stoplight or stop sign.

Overhead vertical image of a serving bowl full of pasta salad with baby spinach and sun-dried tomatoes, with a wooden serving spoon with a patterned handle, on a gray cloth surface with scattered leafy greens, a white and blue plate, and a fork.

I am obsessed with sun-dried tomatoes, so obviously this recipe already has everything I could ever want in this world.

The best part is that you can use whatever kind of noodles you want to make this. You could opt for penne like I have pictured here, but you could also use bow tie, tri-color rigatoni, or even large elbows if you want.

The salad tastes like it’s straight out of a Mediterranean cookbook, with the feta and Kalamata olives. The fresh burst of herbs makes the dressing anything but ordinary.

Vertical image of two blue and white plates of pasta salad with spinach, feta, and sun-dried tomatoes, with a fork on the edge of the plate in the foreground and a large white serving bowl containing more of the dish int he background, on a gray surface.

Here are a few of my favorite tips for making this recipe the best it can be:

  • Don’t overcook your noodles because you’ll be left with a mushy salad, and no one wants that.
  • Cool your noodles slightly before you add the other ingredients, because you don’t want the vegetables to cook through. The spinach will wilt just the right amount if the pasta is still slightly warm, without cooking or melting the other ingredients.
  • Let it rest if you can before you serve it up. The more time you allow to let the salad sit in the fridge, the better the dressing will seep into the noodles and meld with the other elements. This is the best way to make it taste fantastic.

I love to pair this with anything off the grill, whether it’s burgers and brats or barbecued ribs and brisket. The cooling sensation of chilled pasta with fresh vegetables alongside something smoky and hot is pure perfection.

Print
Overhead closely cropped image of a large ceramic serving bowl of pasta salad, with a blue and white plate and a wooden spoon, on a black and white checkered cloth with scattered fresh baby spinach leaves.

Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad


  • Author: Meghan Yager
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 8 side portions/4 entrees 1x

Description

Your next backyard patio gathering has to include this tasty spinach and sun-dried tomato pasta salad. It’s so easy to make, refreshing and satisfying alongside whatever you’re cooking on the grill.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pasta*
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 5 oz fresh baby spinach
  • 1 7-oz jar sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and sliced
  • 1/3 lb crumbled feta cheese (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta until al dente, drain, and cool.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, basil, oregano, parsley, salt, and pepper until combined.
  3. In a large salad bowl, add pasta, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, cheese, olives, and red onion. Toss to combine.
  4. Add dressing and toss well to coat. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, if desired.
  5. Serve immediately, or cover and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Notes

Penne, bow tie pasta, or rotini all work equally well.

  • Category: Pasta Salad
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Sides

Keywords: pasta salad, sun-dried tomato, spinach, kalamata olive, summer

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep and Measure Ingredients

Wash your herbs, remove the stems, and chop as much as you’ll need for this recipe.

Drain the sun-dried tomatoes and slice them into strips. If you like, you can save the oil for another use, in a sauce or dressing.

Chop 1/2 cup of pitted Kalamata olives. If you’re aren’t pitted, get out your trusty pitting gadget and get to work! If you want to enhance the flavors of the olives before you add them to this dish, we have a great recipe for garlic and herb roasted olives!

Peel and chop 1 medium red onion. If this kitchen task makes you weep, this article is for you.

Overhead image of two small square glass dishes of vinegar and spices, seven small round glass bowls of chopped herbs, dried cranberries, chopped purple onion, oil, crumbled feta, baby spinach, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes, and a larger round glass bowl of cooked penne, on a gray surface.

Measure out the remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list. Freshly cracked black pepper provides the best flavor, so I like to pull out my pepper mill and measure what I need into a bowl rather than using the pre-ground stuff.

Note that I used penne, but you can also use bow tie pasta, rotini, or your choice of short extruded noodles.

Step 2 – Make Pasta

Cook your pasta al dente, according to the instructions on the packaging. You may need to cut a minute or two off the cooking time to make sure it doesn’t overcook. The pasta should be firm, but cooked through.

Drain in a colander and allow to cool completely before assembling the salad.

Step 3 – Make Dressing

Add the oil, vinegar, basil, oregano, parsley, salt, and pepper to a small bowl. Whisk to combine.

An oil, vinegar, and herb mixture in a stainless steel mixing bowl with a ring handle, with a blue-handled wire whisk to the right, on a gray surface.

Taste the dressing for seasoning, and feel free to make this component your own after you’re comfortable with the recipe.

Overhead horizontal image of a medium-sized stainless steel bowl with a ring handle, with salad dressing made with oil, vinegar, and fresh herbs at the bottom, and a wire whisk with a sky blue handle, on a gray surface.

Have an abundance of fresh herbs growing in the garden? Add more! Did you make your own herb-infused oil at home? Use that instead of regular olive oil!

Step 4 – Assemble Salad

Add the cooked pasta, spinach, tomatoes, cheese, olives, and red onion to a large salad bowl.

Overhead closely cropped horizontal image of a stainless steel mixing bowl containing separate piles of baby spinach, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, cooked penne pasta, crumbled feta cheese, dried cranberries, and chopped purple onion that haven't yet been mixed together, on a gray surface.

Toss to combine well. The spinach should wild slightly from the residual heat left in the noodles, but they shouldn’t be hot enough to melt the cheese or heat up the other components.

Vertical closely cropped overhead image of cooked pasta with crumbled feta, baby spinach, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes in a large stainless steel bowl with a wooden spoon, on a gray surface.

Pour the dressing over the top and toss well to coat evenly. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper to taste, if you like.

Overhead horizontal image of a stainless steel mixing bowl containing a cold pasta dish made with cooked penne, spinach, feta cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes, on a gray surface.

Serve immediately, or cover and place in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to meld for a few hours, or overnight. If you won’t be serving this right away, give it a good stir after you take it out of the fridge.

Should I Let This Dish Rest?

I mentioned above that I’m of the opinion that the longer you let the pasta salad rest, the better it will taste. So how should you do that?

Overhead horizontal image of two blue and white plates and a white serving bowl of penne pasta salad with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes, on a gray surface partially covered with a black and white checkered cloth, with scattered leafy greens.

I recommend covering the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid, and then placing it in the refrigerator. That way, the whole salad will cool off, and the flavors will meld together in the best way.

You don’t have to worry about transporting it either, because it tastes good either cold or enjoyed at room temperature.

Horizontal image of a large white serving bowl of penne pasta salad with chopped sun-dried tomatoes and fresh spinach, with a wooden spoon with a patterned handle and two white plates with forks on top in the background, on a gathered black and white checkered cloth on top of a gray surface, with scattered fresh greens.

Do you need more delicious pasta salads to bring to your upcoming gatherings? Check out these potluck-ready renditions:

What occasion will you bring this pasta salad recipe to, for your friends and family to enjoy? Tell us in the comments below and be sure to rate the recipe after you’ve tried it!

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. From a recipe originally published by Jennifer Swartvagher on June 10, 2015. Last updated: October 6, 2019 at 12:27 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

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