recipes, Salads, Summer, vegetarian

Easy Pasta Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Pasta salads are nearly some kinds of secret weapon, aren’t they? You can serve them as a side dish for barbecue, enjoy them as a quick and easy dinner or take them with you to work, school or elsewhere. That’s why I want to share one of my favorite pasta salad recipes with you! It’s an easy but delicious pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh cherry tomatoes, arugula, and mozzarella cheese. And since you always need a good and flavorful dressing for any kind of salad, we will serve it with a healthy sun-dried tomato and basil pesto.

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pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes

Here’s how to make a healthy and well-balanced pasta salad

Pasta salad is one of my childhood’s favorites! My mom used to make that delicious pasta salad with hard boiled eggs, pickles, lyonnaise and mayonnaise. It was incredibly delicious, but obviously anything but healthy.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t turn a pasta salad into a healthy meal. In fact, it’s more than easy to create a well-balanced and nutritious pasta salad. My motto for this is to put the emphasis on the salad part.

If you mix a lot of fresh ingredients into the salad, it turns a very high calorie and less nutritious meal into a healthy and balanced salad.

For this reason, our salad consists mainly of arugula and fresh tomatoes, in addition to some whole wheat pasta of course. Furthermore, the lower fat mozzarella cheese provides a few proteins. But of course, I have a few ideas on how to make this salad even more protein rich. So, just stick with me, I’ll share them in a second.

Healthy Pasta Salad Dressing

By now only one critical part remains, the dressing. Most pasta salads are incredibly high in calories because of their sauce, which is often a classic pesto or based on mayonnaise. That’s why I suggest we’re making our own dressing this time.

In fact, the homemade tomato basil pesto is much healthier and lower in calories than the store-bought ones. And what should I say? A tomato basil pesto along side a pasta salad with sun dried tomatoes … Doesn’t that sound absolutely amazing? 😀

pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes

Ingredients

The quantities, as they are given in this recipe for my pasta salad with sun dried tomatoes, are approximately equal to two servings. However, feel free to double, triple, or halve them, depending on how many people you’re cooking for.

And of course, leftovers are a great thing here! Therefore, feel welcome to prepare the double amount and save the rest for the following days.

If you like to have a larger portion or one with more or less calories, carbs, proteins or fats, feel free to adjust the amount of carbs and/or protein and fats to your individual needs.

I always base portion sizes on my personal dietary needs (presumably those of the average woman). However, you or perhaps one of your fellow eaters may need more (or less) than I do.

Ingredients for the tomato basil pesto

  • two medium-sized vine tomatoes
  • one bulb of garlic and some olive oil
  • 20 grams or about a 1/3 cup of sun-dried tomatoes (if possible, choose some that aren’t pickled in oil)
  • a handful of fresh basil
  • a handful of fresh arugula salad
  • 15 grams of parmesan cheese (approx. 0.6 ounces)

Ingredients for the pasta salad with sun dried tomatoes

  • 100 grams or 3.5 ounces of uncooked, short cut whole wheat pasta
  • 250 grams or 9 ounces of fresh cherry tomatoes
  • 30 grams or about ½ cup of sun-dried tomatoes
  • 100 grams or 3.5 ounces of fresh arugula
  • 120 grams or 4.5 ounces of fat-reduced mozzarella (balls)
  • some fresh basil leaves

Alternatives and Substitutions

As promised, I’d like to give you a few more options on how to make the pasta salad with sun dried tomatoes even more balanced.

If you’re serving the pasta salad as a side dish for a barbecue, I wouldn’t change it much at all. Since we usually have plenty of different protein sources sizzling on the grill, out meal is already high in protein.

If not, you always have the option to just pan fry some tofu, fish or meat and serve it with your salad.

A completely different, but pretty smart alternative, would be to use some protein pasta. This could be red lentil pasta or pasta made from chickpeas or peas. Whatever you like best or have at home, feel free to use it instead of whole wheat pasta to make this pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes a bit more protein rich.

Furthermore, there is always the option to use a store-bought pesto for the salad. This obviously increases the calories, but it saves a little time and work. 😊

Easy Pasta Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes – Here’s how it’s done

Okidoki my friend, let’s start talking about how you can make this delicious pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes! As a very first step we have to prepare to ingredients for our tomato and basil pesto.

To do this, preheat your oven to 200°C or 400°F and wash your tomatoes thoroughly. Cut them in half, remove the stalk and place them cut-side up in a small oven-proof dish.

Then grab the garlic and cut off the head. Drizzle it with a little bit of olive oil, rub it with your hands, and then wrap the bulb in a piece of tin foil. Place it next to the tomatoes and put both in the oven for about 20 minutes.

During this time you can take care of other things and continue with the pasta salad as soon as you have taken the tomatoes and the garlic out of the oven.

tomatoes and garlic in a small casserole dish

Moving on with the salad ingredients …

Once you have removed the tomatoes and garlic from the oven, set them aside to cool. Then, bring a pot of water to a boil to cook the pasta al dente according to package directions.

Meanwhile, you can already thoroughly wash the arugula, drain it and put it in a large bowl. Also rinse the cherry tomatoes, cut them in half and add them to the arugula. You can also cut the mozzarella balls in half and finely chop the sun-dried tomatoes. Add both to the bowl as well.

Once the pasta is ready, drain it and rinse it under cold water so that it can cool down immediately. Now set them aside for a bit while we make the dressing for our pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes.

tomatoes, arugula and mozzarella cheese in a big salad bowl

Tomato and Basil Pesto

By now, the tomatoes should be well cooled so you can carefully peel the skin off the flesh. Put the pulp into a food processor or relatively tall container if using an emergency blender.

Now unwrap the garlic and add two of those wonderfully soft garlic cloves to the tomatoes. Next add the remaining ingredients, cutting the parmesan into small pieces first. Then blend everything to a chunk-free, smooth pesto.

Finally, you are ready to add the pasta and the pesto dressing to the salad bowl. Now give your pasta salad with sun- dried tomatoes a gentle toss and then it’s ready to serve!

sun-dried tomato and basil pesto

I hope you like this delicious and simple recipe my pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes and give it a try. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to drop them in the comments, or send me a massage via email or Instagram (@julesbalancedrecipes).

And in case, you’ve tried this recipe for the pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes, I’d appreciate your comment and rating on this recipe. It’s easy to do via the comments section below this post and it would mean the world to me.

Have fun trying it out and bon appétit,
Jules

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pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes

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pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes

Pasta Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Julia Schmitt
An easy recipe for caprese pasta salad with sun-dried and fresh tomatoes, arugula, mozzarella and a quick and healthy homemade tomato and basil pesto. This salad is perfect as a side dish for barbeques, on the side of pan-fried fish, tofu or meat or even served as a main dish.
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Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine international, Italian
Servings 2 Portionen
Calories 416 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 ovenproof dish
  • 1 pot or saucepan
  • 1 large mixing or salad bowl
  • 1 food processor or emergency blender

Ingredients
  

Tomato Basil Pesto

  • 2 medium-sized vine tomatoes
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • 1 to 2 tsp olive oil
  • 20 g sun-dried tomatoes (~⅓ cup)
  • 1 handful fresh basil
  • 1 handful fresh arugula salad
  • 15 g parmesan cheese * (0.6 oz)

Pasta Salad

  • 100 g uncooked, short cut whole wheat pasta ** (~3.5 oz)
  • 250 g fresh cherry tomatoes (~3.5 oz)
  • 30 g sun-dried tomatoes (~½ cup)
  • 100 g fresh aruglua (~3.5 oz)
  • 120 g fat-reduced mozzarella balls (4.5 oz)
  • fresh basil leaves

Instructions
 

Preparations

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C or 400°F, wash the tomatoes, cut them in half and place them cut-side up in an oven-proof dish. Cut off the head of one garlic bulb, drizzle it with oil and rub it with your hands. Wrap the garlic bulb in tin foil and place it in oven alongside with the tomatoes for about 20 minutes.
    tomatoes and garlic in a casserole dish

Pasta Salad

  • Retrieve the tomatoes and garlic from the oven, set them aside to cool. Cook the pasta according to the package directions until al dente.
  • Thoroughly wash the arugula, drain, and place it in a large bowl. Rinse the tomatoes, drain the mozzarella balls, cut both in half and add them to the arugula. Chop the dried tomatoes into small pieces and add them to the bowl as well.
    ingredients for the pasta salad
  • Drain the pasta, rinse it with cold water and let cool briefly.

Pesto

  • Peel off the skin from the cooled tomatoes and put the pulp in a food processor or tall container. Unwrap the garlic, add two cloves to the tomatoes. Chop the parmesan and add it together with the remaining ingredients. Then blend it until you have a smooth pesto.
    ingredients for the tomato basil pesto

Serve

  • Add the pasta and pesto dressing to the remaining pasta ingredients and toss it well. Garnish with a few fresh basil leaves and serve it.
    pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes

Notes

*Pecorino can be used instead of Parmesan.
**Use protein pasta, such as red lentil, chickpea, or pea pasta instead of whole wheat pasta for some extra proteins.
Nutritional values per serving:
  • calories: 416 kcal
  • fat: 12 g
  • carbohydrates: 46 g
  • protein: 26 g

Nutrition

Calories: 416kcal
Keyword caprese pasta salad recipe, healthy pasta salad, Pasta Salad, tomato basil pesto
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