Mediterranean Pasta Salad
A simple Mediterranean pasta salad loaded with fresh arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, pine nuts, kalamata olives, basil pesto and so much more! It’s a copy-cat recipe for Cafe Express’s Pasta Amore and let me just say it’s actually BETTER!
My friends, I present to you, L❤️VE in a bowl.
But really! It is. And it’s not just what Cafe Express calls it on their menu — Pasta Amore. A lot of you may know it as a Mediterranean pasta salad. And when it’s been raining for almost 3 weeks straight and you’re on edge because you need to shoot recipes for the upcoming weeks and just can’t seem to catch a perfect sunny day, you may even know it as comfort food. ?
This Italian inspired pasta salad was a dish at the besties baby shower this past January which came from a Texas based restaurant called Cafe Express. One bite and you’ll know what I mean, flavors from the basil pesto mingling with the pine nuts and the richness of sun-dried tomatoes while you get a little freshness from the arugula and nutty parmesan. This is love. You want more. And ever since then, it’s been on my mind to make over and over again. So much so, that I actually dreamt about it.
Just take a look at all the goodness that’s going into this one pasta salad recipe. We’re tossing in marinated artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, olives, capers, homemade pesto, parmesan cheese, arugula and scallions. But you know what the best part is? The only thing you need to cook is the pasta. Which means this salad can be served at room temperature or cold <– which means that you can absolutely make it ahead of time <– which means it’s the perfect pasta salad to take to all your gatherings this summer.
By know, i’m sure i’ve expressed to you the importance of a good pasta salad. There’s so much going into this salad recipe. It’s loaded with Mediterranean flavor and isn’t ‘leafy based’ which means it’s full of filling ingredients. And the best part? It’s NOT mayonnaise based. So it’s healthier too! And on top of that, it feeds a crowd! Theres is just so much goodness going into this recipe that it’ll easily feed 12-14 people as a small side if you’re planning on taking this to book club or a summer barbecue. I served this with grilled chicken on the side but you could just add cooked diced chicken into the Mediterranean pasta salad as well to make it even more hearty and filling! And how amazing would that be for bagged lunches? Definitely saves you time and $$. Not to mention makes your co-workers slightly jealous of the delicious aromas erupting out of your brown-bag.
I’m telling you, you need this Mediterranean pasta salad in your life.
Mediterranean Pasta Salad (28 sec.):
Mediterranean Pasta Salad
A simple Mediterranean pasta salad loaded with fresh arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, pine nuts, kalamata olives, basil pesto and so much more! It's a copy-cat recipe for Cafe Express's Pasta Amore and let me just say it's actually BETTER!
- 12 ounces pasta (any small shape will do, I like penne)
- 1-12 ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
- ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained (reserve 2 tablespoons of oil)
- ½ cup kalamata olives, chopped
- 3 tablespoons capers, rinsed
- ¼ cup EACH sliced scallions AND chopped parsley
- 1 cup packed fresh arugula
- ⅓ cup parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoon pine nuts
- 3 tablespoons pesto (homemade
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of reserved sun-dried tomato oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- SALAD: Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Rinse and drain the pasta and allow for it to cool to room temperature.
- In a large bowl combine the prepared pasta, chopped artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, capers, scallions, and parsley. Toss to combine. At this point, you can store the pasta salad in the refrigerator until ready to serve if you want to serve it cold.
- DRESSING: In a small bowl, mix together the pesto, olive oil, sun-dried tomato oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. The dressing can be refrigerated until you're ready to serve the salad.
- ASSEMBLY: When you're ready to serve, add the arugula, parmesan cheese, and pine nuts into the salad and toss to combine. Dress with the prepared dressing and taste test for seasonings. Adjust to preference.
- Feel free to toss in cooked chicken to make this salad even heartier.
- If you're transporting this salad, to simplify things, you can place the arugula, parmesan cheese, and pine nuts on top of the prepared salad and toss when you get there with the dressing.
IS THIS A GOOD CHOICE FOR YOU?
*Please note: the nutritional facts calculated are an estimate based on the ingredients i’ve used. If you’d like a more accurate count, please calculate them using the ingredients/brands you’ve used to prepare the recipe. The nutritional facts provided is for 1/8th of the recipe.
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
Roasted Garlic Italian Couscous Salad
This pasta salad looks really great! Anything with capers and olives, and you have my heart. 😉
This pasta salad is so colorful and inviting!! I just wanna dig in 😀
Make this today for a work potluck. The bowl was licked clean literally! I followed the recipe exactly and used cashews. Thank you for sharing!
Awesome! So glad it was a hit!
This salad was fantastic! I added some grilled chicken to make it a dinner salad to bring to a concert and it was delish! I added everything when I made it including the dressing instead of waiting to add it when ready to serve. I also used feta instead of parmesan cheese! This was totally perfect for a picnic dinner!
Made this today for a work pot luck and the flavors are amazing and definitely a keeper!!!! A couple of things I would have done differently and these are all personal preferences. I would not have chopped the artichokes up so small because I LOVE artichokes and really like to taste them when I use them in a recipe. I will use more sun dried tomatoes and not have chopped them up so small either. While I love capers I was not a fan of them in this recipe so, I will omit next time. I did make additional dressing in case it was too dry and I ended up using it all. For some reason I chopped up the arugula and I think I should have left it as is. Thanks for the recipe, I can’t wait to make it again!
So so good! One of the best meals I have had in a long time. Hubby says he could eat it 3 days a week! I made my own pesto, omitted capers and artichokes and added red pepper flakes for some heat. Hubby had his with parmesan, I sprinkled goats feta and it was delicious. Cannot wait to make it for hubby’s sister when she comes down from Portugal. Thank you for this incredible recipe.
So glad to hear you enjoyed it! Homemade pesto really makes all the difference. 🙂
I made this yesterday for a cool dinner on a hot summer night. I added chicken to make it a meal. I used your sun dried tomato pesto in the dressing instead of basil pesto because my 3 teenaged boys and hubby LOVE that stuff. This salad was a huge hit! There is not a speck left. There are so many delicious, interesting flavors all in one salad.
This was 100% delicious and a snap to make. Thanks so much!
I’ve made this multiple times & each time my family raves about it!! So easy & so much flavor!
Wonderful salad full of flavor,! I took it to a party and everyone loved it.
This was really good. Brought as a side dish to Dinner Club, everyone loved it!
Great salad! I used low fat feta versus the Parmesan cheese.
I made this salad for a family reunion and it’s was a big hit. Several people asked for the recipe, which generally is a good sign. I did end up adding a little red wine vinegar to the dressing only because I’m a red wine vinegar addict.
SO good! Thanks for sharing! Nothing to say about it’s perfect!
I made this salad for 35 people . For sure I needed triple the original recipe. Is amazing, the Mediterranean flavor is in each bite. Love it.
Soooo good! Always a summer favourite. Keep coming back to it year after year 🙂
I love the variations in the comments. My mother in law has also thrown in veggies like peppers, used feta instead of parm, omitted the arugula and added balsamic vinegar. Then it becomes a whole different salad but all taste so good!
I want to thank you for this recipe. It’s a keeper and something I look forward to sharing with others.
I used Trader Joe’s sundried tomatoes in a jar and they don’t have anything near the vibrant red your photos show. For extra color, I added seeded chopped tomato, and it not only made the salad prettier, but gave it a fresher, lighter taste. Added a splash of red wine vinegar, too.
Delicious and truly craveable!! Thank you!
Delicious salad! Hearty, healthy ingredients that pair well. Company and family loved it!
I’m bringing this salad to another potluck. I’m swapping out the pasta with Great Northern white beans because others are bringing pasta. Will toss in some chopped hothouse cucumber for texture contrast. Such a great dish! Thx again. Love the dressing!!