Pasta Salad With Sun-dried Tomatoes, Green Olives & Provolone
This pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes is packed with flavor! This summery dish is flavored with green olives, sun-dried tomatoes, provolone cheese, parmesan, zucchini, onion, parsley and a perfectly balanced dressing.
I’ve been eating this pasta salad on repeat for the last five days and I’m still loving it. While it might be time to move on to new addiction, it’s still so good. It’s easy to prepare and is delicious. That’s what we are always looking for, right? Also we are at that point in the summer where I can’t turn my oven on so pasta salad and regular salad it is! Let’s make it!
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- Pasta – I like penne for this, but you can use almost any other type of pasta you want. Other good options are rotini, campanelle, elbows or rigatoni. Pasta with ridges are best! This helps all the yummy add-ins adhere to the pasta instead of sinking to the bottom.
- Green olives – one of the flavor superstars in the dish. They bring that salty bite that keeps the salad interesting.
- Sun-dried tomatoes – another flavor powerhouse. A little goes a long way with these and its super important to chop these as small as you can. They have a strong flavor and a chewy texture that is best enjoyed when small.
- Onion – my #1 tip for using onion in a pasta salad: grate the onion! Then you hardly know it’s there. It adds a lot of flavor without any stray, too-big onion chunks ruining your day.
- Zucchini – not necessarily adding a ton of flavor, but just a healthy veggie to throw in for color, nutrition and texture.
- Provolone – I almost always have provolone slices in the fridge for sandwiches so I just stack up slices and cut into squares.
- Parmesan – I really like getting a parmesan wedge and grating it myself for this recipe but you can also buy pre-shredded parmesan.
- Parsley – adds color and a nice pop of freshness to balance out some of the heavier flavors in the dish.
- Dressing – the dressing for this salad is my all-purpose vinaigrette that we eat almost daily in this house. It’s simple, adaptable and has great flavor. You will need: red wine vinegar, avocado oil, honey, garlic powder, dried basil, dried oregano, salt and pepper.
How to make it
Start by cooking the pasta. Before adding the pasta to boiling water, add two palmfuls of salt. This will season the pasta and result in an overall better tasting pasta salad.
While the pasta is cooking, chop, grate, mince and dice your pasta salad ingredients.
Once cooked, drain the pasta in a colander (affiliate link) and run under cold water until pasta is cooled. Add to your mixing bowl and drizzle with a touch of oil and stir. Add the prepared ingredients to the bowl with the pasta.
Next, mix up the dressing. The best way to do this is with a mason jar (affiliate link). Just add all of the salad dressing ingredients and shake well! Add the dressing to the mixing bowl with all other ingredients. Serve topped with extra parsley and parm if you want!
Is it ok to make pasta salad the day before?
Totally! Pasta salad keeps well when stored correctly in the fridge. You will want to store this pasta salad in an air-tight container or ziploc bag in the fridge. I recommend enjoying this pasta salad within 3-5 days. If you are planning to bring the salad to an event or want to make ahead to serve to a crowd, make it no more than 2 days before for the freshest results, ideally just the day before.
Why do you rinse pasta after cooking?
Rinsing pasta after cooking helps remove extra starch from the noodles that can be gummy and make the pasta stick together. Rinsing the pasta also stops the cooking process, guarding against soggy noodles.
Pasta salad mistakes to avoid
- Not seasoning the pasta water. Don’t skip that step! It might seem like a lot of salt but not all of it is getting into the pasta. Salting the water seasons the pasta and will result in a much more flavorful pasta salad.
- Not rinsing the pasta. As mentioned above, it’s super important to rinse pasta after cooking to stop the cooking process and lock in the al dente texture and remove excess starch.
- Using fresh pasta. Fresh pasta does not hold up the way dried does so make sure to use dried pasta in this recipe.
Pasta – you can really substitute any pasta you like. The best pasta shapes for pasta salad are smaller types with ridges and holes that dressing and other ingredients can adhere to.
Zucchini – you can use yellow or crookneck squash instead.
Dressing – feel free to use a mix of fresh herbs instead of dried in the salad dressing. If using fresh, you can either double or triple the amount called for in this recipe.
Onion – I used yellow onion, but you can sub in red or white. Red will add a slightly different flavor but will still result in a delicious pasta salad.
Tried this recipe?
More pasta recipes
Pasta Salad With Sun-dried Tomatoes, Green Olives & Provolone
- 1 lb dried penne pasta
- 1/2 large yellow onion, grated about 3/4 cup
- 1 medium zucchini, grated about 2 cups
- 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, measured then minced
- 1/2 cup green olives, measure then chop
- 4 oz provolone, cut into small squares about 3/4 cup once cut
- 1 cup parsley, measured then chop
- 1 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 2/3 cup avocado oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp honey
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Prior to adding pasta to boiling water, add two small palmfuls of kosher salt.
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare the pasta salad ingredients: chop olives + parsley, mince sun-dried tomatoes, grate onions + zucchini and parmesan.
- Drain and rinse pasta under cool water once cooked. Add pasta to a mixing bowl, drizzle with oil and stir.
- Add dressing ingredients to a mason jar and shake vigorously.
- Add prepared pasta salad ingredients and dressing to the bowl with the pasta and stir. Store in the fridge and enjoy within 5 days.