This vibrant bowtie pasta salad is the perfect spring or summer side dish! Each bite is filled with juicy tomatoes, chickpeas, and lots of fresh basil, and the pasta is tossed with a homemade parmesan herb dressing that is simply delicious.
Summer parties and barbeques always need a tasty pasta salad! And this recipe is super easy, with no fancy ingredients. Just assorted seasonal summer veggies, fresh herbs, and lots of parmesan. Each bite of pasta is filled with fresh summer flavor!
This pasta salad is perfect for feeding a crowd and you can make it ahead of time which is always a win!
Below you’ll find the full list of ingredients to make this recipe! Plus you’ll find some special notes and ingredient substitutions if needed.
Pasta: This recipe uses bowtie pasta (better known as farfalle), but you can swap it for any shape of short pasta noodle you like! I don’t recommend using spaghetti or long pasta noodles. 😉
Tomatoes: fresh cherry tomatoes are a must for pasta salad! You can also use regular whole tomatoes but I prefer cherry tomatoes because they are sweeter and less watery.
Bell Pepper: use yellow, orange, or red bell pepper. You can also swap for marinated roasted red peppers for a little more flavor!
Red onion: even if you’re not an onion fan I highly recommend using red onion. You could also swap for spring onion or even a shallot too.
Garbonzo beans: for some protein!
Fresh basil: a must for any pasta salad! And I recommend lots of fresh basil for lots of flavor. And I do not recommend substituting dried basil for fresh! The flavor will not be the same.
Parmesan herb dressing: a delicious homemade herb dressing made with parmesan cheese for a rich taste!
How to Make Bowtie Pasta Salad
- Make the pasta! First, cook the pasta in well-salted boiling water until “al dente” in texture.
- Make the dressing! In a small jar or bowl, add all of the dressing ingredients in it and mix together. Set aside for later.
- Assemble the salad in a large bowl with drained pasta, chopped vegetables, herbs, and dressing. Toss together until the dressing has evenly coated everything. Taste, season with additional salt, black pepper, or even some more garlic powder if needed – then serve right away or let it marinate in the fridge!
Tips For Success
Make it ahead! – Pasta salad is the perfect dish to make ahead to save time and energy. And plus the flavors will marinate even more while it sits! How to: make the pasta as the recipe instructs, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve (try to serve within 24 hours of making so the flavors are still fresh).
Marinate the flavors – a great way to develop more flavor in a pasta salad is by letting the salad marinate with the dressing. I recommend covering the salad and refrigerating for several hours before serving, but it’s also just as delicious if served fresh too! If you do marinate the salad, don’t forget to serve it with additional parmesan when it’s done.
Recipe variations – This recipe is totally customizable, so you can use anything you like in it. Some ingredients I also love to use are roasted red peppers, marinated artichokes, cooked asparagus, corn, fresh oregano, edible flowers (for a pretty presentation), spinach, feta cheese, and olives!
Don’t overcook the pasta! – Be sure to cook the noodles until the texture is “al dente” with a slight texture to it. If the pasta is too soft/overcooked it will make the salad mushy, and we definitely don’t want that!
Make it healthier – If you prefer not to use regular wheat pasta you can use whole wheat noodles or gluten-free pasta!
Prevent the noodles from sticking – if you drain the pasta noodles and aren’t going to assemble the pasta salad right away, place the noodles back in the pot you boiled them in and fill it with cold water. Keep them in the water until you’re ready to use them. This is a tip my mom taught me to keep pasta noodles from sticking!
More Spring and Summer Salads
Bowtie Pasta Salad with Parmesan Herb Dressing
- 1 lb dried bowtie pasta noodles
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans
- 1/3 cup red onion, sliced
- 3 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- fresh parmesan cheese for serving
- Cook the pasta: in a large pot of well-salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. I like to cook the pasta until the texture is "al dente".
- Make the dressing: in a mason jar with a lid or a small bowl, mix together the salad dressing ingredients. If you have a jar with a lid you can shake it. Season with salt & black pepper to taste.
- Assemble the salad: Drain the pasta after cooking and rinse with cold water, then add the pasta to a large bowl with the tomatoes, chickpeas, chopped fresh basil, peppers, red onion, and dressing. Toss together until the dressing is evenly coating all the ingredients, taste, and adjust the flavor with additional salt or black pepper. Serve with fresh parmesan over top! Special note: if you're not immediately making the pasta salad after draining the pasta, place the noodles back in the same pot with cold water to prevent the noodles from sticking.