Sun-dried Tomato Pasta Salad with Peas, Corn, and Parmesan

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!

Sun-dried tomato orecchiette pasta salad with basil, corn, peas, and parmesan in a yellow flowered bowl.

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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 sun-dried tomato pasta salad with basil, corn, peas, and parmesan in a yellow flowered bowl.

Ingredients for the pasta salad

  • Orecchiette pasta — (pronounced or-ray-KYET-tay, means “little ear” since that’s what the shape resembles) I love how the unique shape elevates the feel of this pasta salad — plus, the shape of the pasta does a great job of gently cupping the peas and corn. If you can’t find orecchiette, shells would be the most similar shape to use.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes — Get them julienned and packed in oil for this recipe so you don’t have to cut them. Oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes are juicier than their dried counterparts, plus, we’ll be using the oil for the vinaigrette.
  • Corn and peas — Frozen works great for this recipe. Baby peas will be sweeter and more tender, so get those if you can find them!
  • Fresh basil — Chiffonade cut your basil by stacking the leaves, tightly rolling them (side to side, not top to bottom), and slicing thinly perpendicular to the stem.
  • Green onions — Just the green parts, thinly sliced.
  • Shredded parmesan cheese — You can use pre-shredded or grate it yourself with a box grater.
Drizzling sun-dried tomato vinaigrette out of a white pitcher onto orecchiette pasta salad.

Ingredients for the sun-dried tomato vinaigrette dressing

  • Reserved oil from sun-dried tomatoes — This is basically a flavored, infused oil you get free with your jar of sun-dried tomatoes, so we’ll put it to good use here as the base of the dressing!
  • Red wine vinegar — Red wine vinegar is an excellent complement for sun-dried tomatoes and adds a fresh, tangy component to your salad.
  • Fresh garlic — A freshly minced or pressed garlic clove packs a lot of flavor in a dressing!
  • Salt and pepper

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.

Thinly sliced green onions on a wooden cutting board.

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.

Sun-dried tomato orecchiette pasta salad with basil, corn, peas, and parmesan in a yellow flowered bowl.

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!
Close-up of sun-dried tomato orecchiette pasta salad with basil, corn, peas, and parmesan in a white bowl.

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.

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Full of fresh basil and veggies, this lightly dressed sun-dried tomato pasta salad is a refreshing and flavorful side dish for sandwiches, a potluck, or a light lunch! Copycat recipe from Beyond Bread in Tucson, AZ. | www.pinchmeimeating.com
5 from 1 vote

Sun-dried Tomato Pasta Salad with Corn, Peas, and Parmesan

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!
Print Recipe
Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 side dish servingss
Calories: 379kcal
Prep Time:10 mins
Cook Time:15 mins
Total Time:25 mins

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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!

Notes

Using the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes makes is great because it’s infused with flavor!
Serves 6 as a side dish or 4 as a meal.
Tried this recipe?Mention @pinchmeimeating or tag #pinchmeimeating on Instagram!

Nutrition

Sodium: 635mg | Calcium: 148mg | Vitamin C: 54mg | Vitamin A: 1023IU | Sugar: 4g | Fiber: 6g | Potassium: 915mg | Cholesterol: 6mg | Calories: 379kcal | Saturated Fat: 2g | Fat: 9g | Protein: 15g | Carbohydrates: 62g | Iron: 3mg

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21 Comments

  1. Do you microwave the frozen corn and peas or do they thaw fine in the fridge and don’t make it runny from the water?

    1. Hi Sarah! If I’m using frozen corn and peas, I like to add them to the pasta water in the last couple minutes of cooking, or put them in your colander and pour the pasta and boiling water over top when you drain your pasta. You can also microwave them to cook according to the frozen package directions, drain, and add them in that way!

  2. 5 stars
    As a Tucsonan living away from home, you have done me a great service by posting this recipe. You’re right that it tastes exactly the same but slightly better. 😉 Thank you!

    1. Oh yay!!! You have no idea how happy it makes me that someone who’s actually had the original pasta salad made (and enjoyed) this recipe! I so wish we had Beyond Bread here in Charleston. It’s seriously the best sandwich place ever.

  3. 5 stars
    This is hands down my favorite pasta salad! I love the flavor medley, especially after it sits overnight in the fridge!

  4. I’m going camping soon and this looks like a great side item. How many days do you think I could make the dressing in advance?

    1. I’m not sure! Here’s a forum I found that addresses some risks of unrefrigerated oil and fresh garlic.
      None of the dressing components need to be refrigerated on their own (if you leave the sun-dried tomato oil in the sealed jar with the tomatoes) so maybe just bring the ingredients with you and mix it straight into the pasta when you’re ready to eat it? I’m sure you can add the salt and pepper into the vinegar beforehand without any issues if it’s easier to transport like that.

  5. I’ve made this for a few events, including a picnic on the Fourth of July and a recent dinner for 26 people. It is always a hit and we love having leftovers, too! I like to chop up the sun-dried tomatoes small, which takes a few minutes, but otherwise I make it just as you describe. Last time I made this Julie W. chopped three jars of tomatoes for me!

  6. What a perfect way to have a healthy pasta salad in the summer! Always looking for something to cook up the day ahead so I don’t need to heat up my kitchen during the day!

  7. Talk about DELISH!? This looks SO good, and I love that it’s a little different from the usual cold pasta salad. I must try this soon!

  8. And, bug duh, I forgot to thank you for the shout out! It was so much fun to meet you, and I can’t wait to cook together. Maybe we should make homemade pasta together next time?

  9. I see now what I can’t have this at Beyond Bread – the garlic! But I can make it at home now without the garlic thanks to you, Caroline! Glad you are home safe and sound!

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