An easy arugula pasta salad that makes a perfect side or a main course! This pasta salad is tossed with a light dressing and is perfect for the summer picnics! Serve it by itself or add in leftover chicken. Jazz it up with pine nuts and feta cheese for even more flavor!
Let’s be real. Sometimes you just need a little bit of comfort food in your life. And pasta is the king of comfort food everywhere. Is it not?
My personal favorite kind of pasta, the kind that helps me clean out the refrigerator and is ready wicked fast (yes, I just said wicked). And if that means throwing together this arugula pasta salad and having my refrigerator cleaned out without a single thing being tossed into the trash. Yes, please, and thank you.
Let me put it this way, if you can boil pasta, you can make this pasta salad.
The dressing on this pasta salad is such a cinch. And the vinaigrette truly makes the whole dish come together. For the dressing, i’m simply combining a bit of olive oil, a little honey (agave nectar is fine too), garlic, a little Italian seasoning, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper. Simple as it gets, right folks? But so tangy, sweet, and flavorful. I’m willing to bet you’ve got most of those, if not all the ingredients at home already.
It’s no secret that my husband is a big fan of pasta of any kind. And I am a big fan of one pot dinners. Yes, please. This marriage thing is all about compromise, I tell you. To make this pasta salad a little healthier, i’ve swapped out regular pasta for whole wheat, adding in tons of veggies, and keeping the dressing on the lighter side as well.
This idea of an arugula pasta salad came to me one hungry afternoon when I just needed something springy with bright greens and a light vinaigrette. Lots of bright fresh arugula, whole wheat pasta that I could sink my teeth into, and cheese — parmesan, please. That and some good old kitchen magic. Call it a fridge clearing pasta if you will!
For my salad, I used:
- cherry tomatoes
But really the options are limitless. I’m planning on serving this arugula salad with grilled shrimp all summer long! Are you with me on that?
- roasted veggies (may I suggest zucchini or broccoli)
- leftover rotisserie chicken
- caramelized onions
- sautéed mushrooms
- sautéed shrimp (um, yes)
- feta cheese (swap or be super bad and add it in with the parmesan)
- pine nuts
This super simple arugula pasta salad makes for easy dinners, quick lunches, and is ideal to bring to potlucks. Everyone is going to be asking you for the recipe and you can just stand back and say ‘it’s a little of this and a little of that’. Good pasta salad magic.
But trust me, once you take a bite of this bright, spring-ready salad, you’ll know exactly why it’s the perfect pasta recipe for your back pocket.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons honey (or agave nectar)
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed in a garlic press
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 lb. whole wheat farfalle pasta (rotini or fusilli works too)
- 1/4 cup basil, chopped
- 3 handfuls of arugula
- 1/2 pint grape tomato, halves
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup pine nuts (optional)
- Bring a large pot of water to boil, salt the water liberally before adding uncooked pasta. Cook the pasta until al dente, about 11 minutes (check packaging for exact timings). While the pasta is boiling, prepare the dressing.
- Combine the red wine vinegar, honey, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper in a bowl. Add in the olive oil as you whisk the ingredients together. (see note).
- To assemble: Combine the basil, arugula, tomatoes, and parmesan cheese into a bowl with the pasta. Add dressing right before serving as the arugula will start to wilt almost immediately.
- The dressing will separate after a few minutes. Simply whisk to bring back together. Alternately, you can add all the dressing ingredients to a jar and just shake to combine.
- This salad is totally customizable. It’s meant to be a guideline to use up almost anything that’s in the refrigerator. Feel free to toss in leftover diced or rotisserie chicken, sautéed veggies, feta cheese, sliced almonds, or anything else!
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