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This quick and easy 30-minute sun dried tomato pasta salad is vibrant, refreshing, and absolutely packed with flavor that’ll have the entire family clamoring for seconds all summer!

completed Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Salad against a white surface
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Vibrant Summer Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad

With summer in full swing, this Tuscan/Mediterranean-inspired sun dried tomato pasta salad is an absolute must-try at your next family gathering – be it a BBQ, picnic, potluck, etc. Not only is it simple to pull together and surprisingly budget-friendly, but it’s absolutely bursting with vibrant colors and flavors everyone will enjoy.

This vibrant, refreshing tomato pasta salad combines slightly chewy al dente pasta with robust sun-dried tomatoes, juicy fresh tomatoes, spinach, and an abundance of basil and parsley. When tossed with a ‘lick-the-plate-clean’ vinaigrette, this dish is packed with nutrients and flavor, and will become a highly-requested dish at any gathering.

So, what’s the special secret to the pasta salad with sun dried tomatoes? The oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes! By replacing regular EVOO with this oil, the dressing is infused with so much extra flavor – and it’ll only get better the longer it sits in the refrigerator.

Best of all, this easy vegan sun-dried tomato pasta salad is easy to prep with minimal chopping, and it’s easy to customize – whether you want to make it gluten-free and/or swap or add extra ingredients. It also meal preps and travels well, too!

Looking for more summery pasta dishes? You might enjoy our vegan summer pasta salad, Mediterranean pasta salad, or sun-dried tomato and pepper pesto pasta!

The Ingredients and Substitutes

ingredients for sun dried tomato pasta salad measured out against a white surface
  • Pasta: It’s best to use small pasta shapes with lots of nooks and crannies for the dressing to cling to. I.e., fusilli, rotini, penne, bowtie, etc. However, you could also make sun-dried tomato orzo, giant couscous, or even tortellini.
  • Vegetable broth: To cook the pasta. Use regular or reduced-sodium broth.
  • Vegetables: This spinach sun dried tomato pasta salad relies only on:
    • Red onion (or shallots- finely diced)
    • Cherry tomatoes/ baby plum tomatoes (or larger tomatoes, chopped)
    • Spinach (baby spinach or regular – Massaged kale would work too)
  • Fresh herbs: This healthy sun dried tomato pasta tastes fresh and bright thanks to plenty of freshly minced parsley and basil.
  • Super firm tofu: Pressed then crumbled and mixed into the dressing, super-firm tofu will resemble feta cheese and add a hefty dose of plant-based protein to the pasta and tomato salad. Use vegan feta cheese instead, though, if preferred.

The Vinaigrette

  • Sun-dried tomatoes: Make sure to use sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, as we’ll use the flavor-packed oil in the pasta salad dressing.
  • Lemon: Fresh lemon juice is best and adds a wonderfully bright, tangy flavor. Alternatively, you could use apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, or white balsamic or a combination.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic will add a heap of flavor, though garlic powder works in a pinch.
  • Fresh herbs: This herby dressing combines fresh basil and parsley.
  • Smoked paprika: For a subtle smoky flavor that complements the tomato flavor.
  • Salt & black pepper: To season the vegan sun dried tomato pasta salad to taste.

What Could I Add to Sun Dried Tomato Pasta?

  • Dijon mustard: A teaspoon adds a tangy, spicy depth to the dressing.
  • Dried herbs: Add more flavor to the dressing with Italian seasoning or oregano.
  • Red pepper flakes: To add heat to the sun dried tomato pasta salad.
  • Nutritional yeast: To sprinkle over the vegan sun dried tomato pasta when serving in place of parmesan. It’s ‘cheesy’, nutty, and packed with umami flavor.
  • Beans: Add a hefty dose of plant-based protein with a can of chickpeas/white beans.
  • Avocado: Adds a creamy element packed with antioxidants and healthy fats.
  • Other vegetables: i.e., artichokes, asparagus, bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, etc.
  • Nuts/seeds: To add texture, toss in lightly toasted pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pepitas, walnuts, or slivered almonds.
  • Vegan mozzarella: To make this more like a vegan Caprese pasta salad.
  • Vegan meats: Like sliced vegan sausage, chopped plant-based bacon, or vegan chick’n.

How To Make Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Salad

Keep scrolling to the recipe card for the complete list of ingredients and recipe instructions.

  • 1) First, drain the sun-dried tomatoes from the oil, reserving ¼ cup of the oil to one side. Also, halve the cherry tomatoes, chop the spinach, dice the onion, and mince the basil and parsley.
  • 2) Meanwhile, combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and crumble the tofu directly into the bowl to ‘marinate’ for 10 minutes.

This will help to provide the tofu with a tangy ‘feta-like’ flavor. Don’t skip this step.

  • 3) Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the vegetable broth (or salted water) according to the package instructions minus 1-2 minutes, until al dente. Then drain it and leave it to cool.

For slightly wilted spinach, stir it into the pasta while it’s still a little warm.

  • 4) To a large serving bowl, add the sun-dried tomatoes (leave them whole or finely chop them first), cherry tomatoes, spinach, onion, parsley, basil, and the dressing and leave it to marinate for 10 minutes (while the pasta cools).
  • 5) Meanwhile, prepare the Mediterranean vegetables by finely dicing the red onion, bell pepper, and cucumber and halving the cherry tomatoes.
  • 6) Toss the pasta into the bowl with the remaining ingredients, mix well, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

For the best flavor, leave the fully assembled vegan sun-dried tomato pasta salad to rest for another 20-30 minutes before serving, then enjoy! However, it’s fine to eat immediately if you’re feeling impatient.

FAQs

How to make sun-dried tomato dressing?

To turn the sun-dried tomatoes into a dressing, add them and the remaining dressing ingredients to a food processor/blender and process into a slightly chunky, pesto-like consistency. The sun-dried tomato flavor will spread throughout the dish while still slightly chunky in places.

Can I enjoy this spinach sun dried tomato pasta warm?

This vegan pasta salad is best served chilled or at room temperature because of the fresh ingredients and vinaigrette dressing, though you could enjoy it warm if preferred.

Recipe Notes and Tips

  • Cook the pasta al dente: This ensures it won’t become soggy as it soaks up the dressing. If you plan to always serve it directly from the refrigerator, though, al dente pasta can be a little hard, so it’s best to cook it normally.
  • Partially dress the pasta salad while warm: The pasta absorbs the vinaigrette more. Adding ½ while the pasta is still warm gives you the perfect amount of flavor without all the dressing disappearing.
  • To cool pasta quickly: Rinse it under cold water or spread it across a large tray, then optionally place it in the refrigerator.
  • Leave the salad to rest: Even just for 30 minutes, though overnight is even better, as this will allow all the flavors in the pasta salad to meld.
  • Save some dressing: If you plan to store leftovers, save extra dressing so you can liven it up between servings with an extra 1-2 tbsp.
completed Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Salad against a white surface

What To Serve With Spinach Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Salad?

Enjoy this sun dried tomato spinach pasta salad chilled or at room temperature (we prefer the latter, as chilled al dente pasta can be ‘hard’) as a side or main with:

Storage Instructions

Ensure the sundried tomato pasta salad is fully cooled, then store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Optionally, leave a small amount of dressing to one side to liven up the pasta salad between servings. Adding a small amount of the pasta cooking water to the dressing can also help to keep the cold pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes ‘juicy.’

More Hearty Salad Recipes

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

completed Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Salad against a white surface

Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Salad

5 from 31 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 – 6 people
This quick and easy 30-minute sun dried tomato pasta salad is vibrant, refreshing, and absolutely packed with flavor that’ll have the entire family clamoring for seconds all summer!

Ingredients 

Dressing:

  • 1 (8-ounce) jar of sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, diced
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • ¼ cup of minced parsley
  • ¼ cup of minced basil
  • ¼ cup of reserved sundried tomato olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • ½ package of super firm tofu, crumbled with your fingers (to resemble feta cheese)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Pasta Salad

  • 1 pound of pasta of your choice
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups of chopped spinach
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • cup of minced parsley
  • ½ cup of minced basil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions 

  • Remove the sun dried tomatoes from the jar and set aside until step 4 and save ¼ cup of the oil.
  • In a small bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients. Mix well and allow the crumbled tofu to marinate for 10 minutes while the pasta is cooking.
  • Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package instructions and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, add the sun dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, spinach, onion, parsley, basil, and dressing. Allow it to marinate while the pasta cools down for 10 minutes.
  • Once the pasta is cool, add it to the bowl with all of the ingredients and mix well. Taste with salt and pepper.
  • Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Notes

  • Cook the pasta al dente: This ensures it won’t become soggy as it soaks up the dressing. If you plan to always serve it directly from the refrigerator, though, al dente pasta can be a little hard, so it’s best to cook it normally.
  • Partially dress the pasta salad while warm: The pasta absorbs the vinaigrette more. Adding ½ while the pasta is still warm gives you the perfect amount of flavor without all the dressing disappearing.
  • To cool pasta quickly: Rinse it under cold water or spread it across a large tray, then optionally place it in the refrigerator.

Nutrition

Calories: 766kcalCarbohydrates: 129gProtein: 29gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gSodium: 151mgPotassium: 2775mgFiber: 14gSugar: 30gVitamin A: 3708IUVitamin C: 84mgCalcium: 168mgIron: 10mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: Toni Okamoto
Course: Entree
Cuisine: American
Method: No cook
Diet: Vegan
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
About

Toni Okamoto

“They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
‘Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways…
we got to start taking better care of ourselves ” – Dead Prez

More about Toni Okamoto

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