Light and Easy Pasta Salad Recipe | Bow Tie Pasta Salad

LAST UPDATED: Jul 27, 2019 | PUBLISHED: May 21, 2019 | By: Julie Blanner

A light, refreshing pasta salad recipe, perfect for summer picnics and outings. This bow tie pasta salad has the most amazing pasta salad dressing made with lemon and basil. It’s always a crowd pleaser!

bow tie pasta salad in a bowl with cherry tomatoes basil and feta

Today I’m excited to share one of summer’s quintessential sides. This is a bow tie pasta salad, but lighter. I never took to the heavy mayonnaise-drenched pasta salads, so I make mine with a vinaigrette, which is perfect for summer outings like picnics and parties.

You’ll love this light and refreshing pasta salad dressing. It’s always a crowd pleaser!

bow tie pasta salad with lemon vinaigrette basil and cherry tomatoes

Serve Bow Tie Pasta Salad as a Side or Main Dish

It’s no secret that I love an deliciously simple pasta salad. They keep well, which means we can enjoy it all week. If you love Italian dressing and parmesan cheese, try this easy Italian Pasta Salad. Shrimp lovers will go crazy over this Seafood Pasta Salad and another great pasta salad recipe on the lighter side is this Lemon Basil Pasta Salad.

You can also add a little fiesta to your fiesta with this Mexican Pasta Salad. You’ll want to pin it for Cinco De Mayo!

easy pasta salad recipe in a bowl with tomato and basil

This pasta salad recipe also feeds a crowd! It serves 10-12 side portions. It’s great for summer entertaining.

Pretty little bow tie pasta noodles all dressed in a lemon vinaigrette pasta salad dressing, and tossed with feta, basil and cherry tomatoes…does it get any better? It’s the ultimate summer side dish but can also be enjoyed as an entree.

In fact, that’s the best way to have leftovers – for lunch!

Even kids will enjoy this irresistible recipe. Adalyn can’t resist the cherry tomatoes and who can say no to adorable bow tie pasta? It’s light, fresh and flavorful!

What Readers on Pinterest Said About this Pasta Salad Recipe

This has been one of my most popular recipes on Pinterest and it’s no wonder why! See what readers are saying about this amazing pasta salad recipe.

bow tie pasta salad with vinaigrette tomatoes and basil

  • “Love it! Delicious! Just like the title, light and easy. Will compliment any meal.” – Roberta
  • “Used Dijon mustard and orecchiette pasta bc that’s what I had. This is amazing and could be adapted in so many delicious ways. Warning if you have no self control: you could very well eat this all in one sitting, without sharing, like I almost did! ?” – Jamie
  • “Delicious recipe! I made it for a bbq party and everyone loved it!” – Jocelyn
  • “I used dijon mustard, rotini pasta, and just regular tomatoes instead of cherry. I halved the recipe because I didn’t need it to serve 10. It was still really good, fast, and easy!” – Emma
  • “Excellent! Light and fresh.” – Lisa
  • “Loved it! Very easy to make, and it was good.” -TJ
  • “One of my favorite things to make! I cheat and use pre-minced garlic and pre-chopped slightly dried basil, and then sometimes I get fancy and use tomato basil feta instead of regular feta. It’s always good!” – Jess


easy bowtie pasta salad in a mixing bowl

Bow Tie Pasta Salad Ingredients

  • Bow Tie Pasta Noodles – You can use the noodle of your choice, but I like using bow tie for the prettiest pasta salad. It holds the cheese and mustard grain and looks beautiful!
  • Feta – A slightly salty Greek cheese from Sheep’s or Goat’s milk is often tolerated by those who are dairy free. 
  • Basil – Fresh basil adds so much flavor and color to this pasta salad. Slice thin. You can use a sprig to garnish on top as well.
  • Cherry Tomatoes – Use red or a blend of yellow, orange and red to add even more color.
  • Lemon Vinaigrette – A blend of lemon juice, olive oil, whole grain mustard, and minced garlic coats the noodles to perfection. 
  • Salt and Pepper – Season to taste. I like to use thick flakes of black peppercorns from a grinder for the best flavor.

How to Make This Easy Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing

Pasta Salad Dressing is so easy to make! This pasta salad dressing uses just four ingredients: lemon juice, olive oil, mustard and minced garlic. That keeps this dressing light, unlike so many pasta salad recipes.

It gets even better as it soaks into the noodles when refrigerated. It makes the bowtie pasta so tender and flavorful.

To make this pasta salad dressing, just whisk ingredients together or combine them in a jar and shake! Then, toss with your bowtie pasta.

pretty bowtie pasta salad

The best pasta salad recipe in just 15 minutes, light and refreshing for summer

How to Make Cold Bowtie Salad

You can make enough to serve 10 in less than 15 minutes (including prep/cut and boil time)!

  • Boil the bowtie pasta until al dente.
  • Drain pasta and rinse with cold water.
  • Whisk pasta salad dressing ingredients together.
  • Toss drained pasta with dressing, feta, cherry tomatoes and basil.

To see just how simple this pasta salad recipe is, watch the video in this post.

pasta salad dressing tossed with bow tie pasta

Tips to Make the Best Pasta Salad

  • Don’t overcook your noodles, prepare them al dente. This will prevent your pasta salad from becoming mushy and toss easier. Overcooking your noodles will result in a mushier pasta salad. Nobody wants that!
  • After straining noodles, rinse them with cold water to shock them.
  • Allow your pasta to cool before adding the pasta salad dressing and ingredients.
  • Let your pasta salad marinate. The best pasta salads are made in advance to allow the dressing to soak into your bow tie pasta and toppings. This makes it so flavorful!

You can find more easy pasta recipes here!

pasta salad recipe

The Best Pasta Salad Recipes

Try one or all of these delicious pasta salad recipes for your next summer gathering! Made with homemade vinaigrette, fresh herbs, cheese, and fun shaped noodles, these pasta salads are sure to be a hit!

bow tie pasta salad in a bowl with cherry tomatoes basil and feta

Light and Easy Pasta Salad Recipe (Bow Tie Pasta Salad)

A light, refreshing and easy pasta salad, perfect for summer picnics and outings. This lemon basil pasta salad recipe is always a crowd pleaser!
4.81 from 31 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings (hover to scale): 12
Calories: 222kcal


  • 16 oz pasta
  • 1/4 c lemon juice
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 1 Tbsp garlic minced
  • 5 oz feta crumbled
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
  • 6 leaves basil sliced thin
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Boil pasta until tender.
  • Whisk lemon juice, olive oil, mustard and minced garlic.
  • Drain bow tie pasta and rinse with cold water.
  • Toss drained pasta with dressing, feta, cherry tomatoes and basil.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Refrigerate until serving (recommend 2+ hours to allow the pasta salad dressing to marinate the bowtie pasta).



This recipe calls for bow tie pasta, but you can choose the noodle of your choice.
Prepare al dente for the best results.


Calories: 222kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 167mg | Potassium: 186mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 255IU | Vitamin C: 11.1mg | Calcium: 73mg | Iron: 0.9mg
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?Mention @JulieBlanner or tag #JulieBlanner

This recipe was originally shared May 2016 and updated May 2019. As seen on MSN