This sun-dried tomato pasta salad recipe is an easy orecchiette salad with peas, corn, basil, green onions, and parmesan! Tossed with a homemade sun-dried tomato vinaigrette, it’s a light, crowd-pleasing side dish without mayo that can hold up to picnics and potlucks! Make it in under 30 minutes and serve cold or room temperature!
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There’s nothing like a big batch of pasta salad to bring to a cookout or potluck or just to eat throughout the week (meal prep for the win!). Honestly pasta salads are some of my favorite things to have in the fridge, like this easy Greek pasta salad or this creamy balsamic Caprese pasta salad.
But this sun-dried tomato pasta salad was the first one I wrote for this blog, inspired by the one I loved to order at Beyond Bread when I lived in Tucson, Arizona. So many restaurants and cafes treat their pasta salads as an afterthought, but not this one! It’s a light, fresh, and flavorful side dish with corn, peas, parmesan, fresh basil, and of course sun-dried tomatoes!
Instead of a mayo-based dressing, this recipe uses a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette with red wine vinegar for a lighter taste. And as a bonus, being mayo-free makes this recipe perfect for picnics and potlucks since it can withstand being at room temperature for longer!
Ingredients for the pasta salad
Ingredients for the sun-dried tomato vinaigrette dressing
How to make sun-dried tomato pasta salad
First, cook your pasta (orecchiette or shells) in salted water according to package directions. Salting the water helps infuse the pasta with flavor so don’t skip this step!
While the pasta is cooking, mix up the vinaigrette. Combine the vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper, and then slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking. Alternatively, combine all dressing ingredients in a jar or bottle with a lid and shake well to combine.
Prepare your other ingredients — chiffonade cutting the basil, slicing the onions, and grating the parmesan cheese.
FOR THE CORN: If using canned corn, drain it. To use fresh corn, you can boil two ears of corn for the last 5 minutes in the water with the pasta. Then cut the kernels off the cob when it’s cool enough to handle. For frozen corn, add the kernels to the water with the pasta for the last 2 minutes of cooking, along with the frozen peas.
FOR THE PEAS: Add frozen peas to the pasta water in the last 2 minutes of cooking to thaw them out.
Drain and rinse the pasta and thawed frozen veggies. Rinsing will help it cool down faster and get rid of excess starch.
Combine all pasta salad ingredients and vinaigrette in a large bowl and toss to combine. Eat it at room temperature or chill before serving.
Expert Tips & Tricks
- This recipe is as easy or involved as you want it to be! Want the easy route? Use frozen peas and corn, pre-shredded parmesan, and julienned sun-dried tomatoes. Don’t mind spending a little extra time? Use fresh corn on the cob and grate your own cheese.
- One thing not to skip: Fresh basil is a must for the best flavor. I don’t recommend using dried.
- Refrigerating overnight gives the flavors in this pasta salad a chance to meld. It’s even better the next day!
- Because this pasta salad recipe has no mayo, it’s an excellent choice for picnics and potlucks where it might be sitting out longer at room temperature!
What goes well with sun-dried tomato pasta salad?
This is a perfect side dish for a gourmet sandwich or burger! Here are some of my favorites to try with this.
- Hot Roast Beef Sandwich with Brie and Tomatoes — This sandwich was inspired by the Betty’s Brie sandwich at Beyond Bread in Tucson, the same restaurant that inspired this pasta salad. That’s my top choice for a sandwich pairing!
- Smoked Turkey, Apple, and Brie Sandwich with Bacon
- Gourmet Turkey Burger with Hollandaise Sauce
- Traditional Corned Beef Reuben Sandwich on Rye
Sun-dried Tomato Pasta Salad with Corn, Peas, and Parmesan
- 12 oz dried orecchiette pasta use shells if you can't find orecchiette
- 8.5 oz julienned sun-dried tomatoes in oil oil drained and reserved
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup corn canned or frozen, or from 2 ears of fresh corn
- 1/2 cup fresh basil chiffonade cut
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese shredded
- 1/2 cup green onions thinly sliced
For the dressing
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Reserved oil from sun-dried tomato jar about 1/4 cup
- Combine dressing ingredients in a jar or bottle with a lid and shake well to combine.
- Cook pasta according to package directions in salted water. If using fresh corn, add cobs to the pasta water in the last 5 minutes of cooking. In the last 2 minutes of cooking, add frozen peas and corn (if using frozen). Drain and rinse.
- Cut kernels off corn cobs if using fresh corn.
- Toss all pasta salad ingredients together, then drizzle on the dressing and toss to combine.
- Eat immediately lukewarm or chill before serving so flavors can combine. Enjoy as a side dish for your favorite sandwich!