Nothing says summer like a good pasta salad and this Italian-inspired bow tie pasta salad is the perfect addition to any summer BBQ or potluck. Filled with spinach, cherry tomatoes, and bocconcini cheese, and covered in pesto, this healthy pasta salad recipe is packed full of fiber, healthy fats, and flavor.
While pasta is often not considered a healthy food, I can assure you it is. Made with flour, water, and salt, pasta is a staple of Italian cuisine that can be traced back as far as the 4th century B.C. Nutritionally speaking, pasta is a source of complex carbohydrates and fiber and, while it can be a rich dish depending on what it’s served with, pasta of all shapes and sizes can be included in a healthy and well-balanced diet, especially when it’s paired with fresh veggies like this bow tie pasta salad recipe.
Ingredients for Bow Tie Pasta Salad
- Bow Tie Pasta: You can’t make a bow tie pasta salad without bow tie pasta! This flat noodle, also known as farfalle pasta, is a great shape for a cold pasta salad as its size is the perfect match for chopped veggies.
- Spinach: Raw, baby spinach adds a punch of green and fiber to this pasta salad. If you don’t have spinach, arugula would also pair nicely with this recipe.
- Tomato: While the recipe calls for cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes or cubed whole tomatoes would work just as well.
- Basil: A bit of basil or fresh herbs helps to brighten the dish and add a punch of freshness.
- Cheese: I opted to use bocconcini cheese, which is small balls of mozzarella cheese, but you could easily use cubed mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, or feta cheese instead.
- Dressing: In an effort to keep the dressing quick and easy, I used a combination of fresh pesto, olive oil, and lemon juice to keep with the theme; however, you could any style of Italian vinaigrette that you enjoy. A combination of olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, oregano, and Dijon mustard would also make a simple homemade Italian dressing.
While I opted to use tomatoes and spinach as the vegetables in my pasta salad, you can really use any edible raw vegetables and leafy greens that you enjoy. Cucumber, red bell pepper, zucchini, carrots, red onion, green onion, and black olives would all work nicely in this bowtie pasta salad.
Note: If you decide to make this pasta salad in advance, you can easily freshen it with an extra drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and/or a sprinkle of salt and black pepper before serving.
Pasta Salad with Bow Ties
What to Serve with Pasta Salad
Pasta salad is filled with complex carbohydrates, fiber, and healthy fats, therefore, pairing it with a source of protein would help to create a more well-balanced meal. While anything from steak to chicken to fish to tofu will work well as a source of protein, I think grilled lemon pepper chicken thighs, lemon garlic chicken thighs, and pesto baked salmon would pair particularly well.
While pasta salad is often thought of as a side dish, paired with grilled meat or a burger, it works equally well as a main course. In fact, on a hot summer day, a cold pasta salad is a great way to conquer a pasta craving without turning on the stove, not to mention, that it stores incredibly well in the refrigerator making it a great make-ahead meal for a simple lunch or dinner.
More Healthy Pasta Salad Recipes:
Bow Tie Pasta Salad
This colourful bow tie pasta salad recipe works well as a simple side dish for a summer BBQ, potluck, or as a main course for a light lunch or dinner. Plus, it keeps well in the fridge so it makes for a great meal prep idea.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 8 1x
- Category: Salad
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
- 12 ounces (4 cups) bow tie pasta, dry
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- 1 cup bocconcini cheese, halved
- 1 cup spinach, packed, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup basil, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons pesto
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- Black pepper
- Fill a large pot with water, bring to a boil, and cook the bow tie pasta in heavily salted water as per package directions or until slightly past al dente. Once cooked, drain the pasta, toss it with a little olive oil (to prevent it from sticking together) and let it cool to room temp (you can run it under cold water briefly, before adding the oil, to encourage it if you’re in a rush).
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare the dressing. In a small bowl or jar, add the pesto, olive oil, and lemon juice and whisk to combine.
- Once the pasta has cooled, in a large bowl add the cooled pasta, cherry tomatoes, red onion, bocconcini cheese, spinach, and basil, and stir to combine.
- Cover with the dressing, season generously with salt and pepper, and toss gently until everything is well coated. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Once prepared, the pasta salad can be served immediately or stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 236 calories
- Sugar: 3 grams
- Fat: 8 grams
- Carbohydrates: 35 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Protein: 7 grams
Keywords: bow tie pasta salad recipes, pasta salad bow tie recipes, pasta salad with bow ties recipes
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