Tomato Pasta Salad with tomatoes, bell peppers, feta cheese, fresh basil and garlic. It is a 20 minute crowd pleaser!
The best part about this tomato pasta salad is that it tastes juicy, flavourful and fresh any time of the year.
End of summer, I use local beefsteak or roma tomatoes, and in winter greenhouse grown tomatoes on the vine are flavorful and sort of affordable.
If you are a Costco lover like me (my healthy Costco shopping list), you can buy that big tub of grape tomatoes and make this summer pasta salad with feta cheese, bell pepper, parsley or dill, and olive oil year round.
Healthy pasta dishes are our sanity because kids love pasta! If you household is anything like ours, make sure to try our wildly popular 10 minute easy spaghetti recipe, healthy mac and cheese or ground turkey pasta bake.
Ingredients for Tomato Pasta Salad
- Tomatoes: I used beefsteak tomatoes this time. Roma, cherry, heirloom or grape tomatoes would work too.
- Bell peppers: A few finely chopped red bell peppers add flavor, more vegetable content and a hefty dose of vitamin C that boosts your immune system. This tomato feta pasta salad hands down contains more vegetables than pasta. I told you, it’s healthy.
- Pasta: I recommend using any short pasta like penne, fusilli, corkscrew, orzo etc. As long as it is small and has grooves and crevices to hold the tomatoes and cheese.
- Feta cheese: Salty crumbled cheese. You can also use mozzarella balls or chopped fresh mozzarella. Either goes amazing with garlic and basil.
- Fresh basil: Basil is a classic but no one says you can’t use fresh finely chopped Italian parsley or dill. It gives a lot of flavor with no calories.
- Seasonings: Garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper.
How to Make Tomato Pasta Salad
Prep veggies: Chop tomato into bite sized pieces about 1 inch each. Make sure you knife is sharp as it’s the key not to squishing ripe tomatoes. Transfer to a large bowl.
Then seed and chop sweet bell peppers of any color. Chop basil. For this salad, I like to grate rather than mince garlic because it mixes well with feta and that’s a match made in heaven.
You can also start boiling water for cooking pasta at same time.
Cook pasta: You want to cook pasta in a large amount of salted water in large pot so it doesn’t stick together. Let it float freely and stir a few times.
And cook al dente, firm to a bite. The best way to check is pull a piece on a cutting board and pierce with a knife or taste it. There is nothing worse than mushy pasta in a pasta salad!
Combine and toss: No need to let pasta cool. On the contrary, when warm pasta hits feta cheese, it melts it into delicious garlicky creamy sauce, kind of. A bit of pasta water transferring with pasta is fine.
Serve room temperature or cold!
More Tips and Variations
- Sharp knife: The most important tip I can share about chopping tomatoes is to use sharp knife to cut through their skin without creating a mush.
- Crumble your own feta: Buy a block, crumble to avoid preservatives and save money. Store-bought feta cheese contains anti-caking agents.
- Cook pasta al dente: Reduce your usual pasta cook time by 2-3 minutes. Nobody likes mushy pasta salad either here or in healthy macaroni salad.
- For cucumber tomato pasta salad: Seed 1/2 long English cucumber, chop and add to healthy salad recipe.
Can Tomato Pasta Salad Be Made Ahead of Time?
Yes. In fact, this salad tastes equally phenomenal while freshly made and warm, and in a few hours.
Since the recipe calls only for 2 tbsp of olive oil, you can always “rehydrate” pasta salad with more olive oil the next day. Quality olive oil makes all the difference in the world.
You can make this salad for up to 24 hours in advance. Just be sure to undercook the pasta as per recipe directions. There is nothing worse than mushy pasta salad served to guests the next day.
How Long Does Pasta Salad Last?
Tomato pasta salad lasts up to 3 days in the fridge when stored in airtight container. I like to make a batch for easy lunches during summer when kids are home from school.
Is Pasta Salad Healthy?
Yes, I do think pasta salad can be healthy. Not white pasta salad drowning in mayo though. It is all about balance, moderation and loading your meals with whole foods and real food to your best ability.
And this tomato pasta salad fits my healthy criteria: whole grain pasta, locally grown tomatoes, parsley and garlic; and conventional feta cheese because it’s life. Try healthy tuna pasta salad, next!
More Favorite Summer Recipes
- Pasta with zucchini and tomatoes
- Ground turkey and broccoli pasta
- Healthy Tuscan chicken pasta
- Broccoli and penne pasta
Tomato, Basil and Feta Pasta Salad
- In a large salad bowl, add ingredients as you are preparing them in the above listed order: tomatoes, bell peppers, basil, feta cheese, garlic, olive oil and pepper.
- Cook pasta as per package instructions undercooking by 2-3 minutes or until pasta is al dente, cooked but firm. Drain.
- Add cooked pasta directly from the pot to salad bowl. This will allow hot pasta to melt feta cheese a bit and help flavours marry each other. A bit of pasta water transferring with pasta is fine.
- Add a pinch of salt and gently stir pasta salad just enough to combine. Serve warm or cold.
- Store: Refrigerate covered for up to 2 days. Do not freeze.
- Cook pasta al dente: Reduce your usual pasta cook time by 2-3 minutes. Nobody likes mushy pasta salad.
- Make ahead: You can make this salad for up to 24 hours in advance. Since the recipe calls only for 2 tbsp of olive oil, you can always “rehydrate” pasta salad with more olive oil the next day.