Sun-Dried Tomato Arugula Pasta Salad

sun-dried tomato arugula pasta salad

Just when I thought I couldn’t love a salad more, I went and tried this one! After posting what’s on my coffee table the earlier this week, my friend Erica tipped me off on this superb recipe from the cookbook I’m slightly obsessed with– Appetite for Reduction. All she had to say was that it tastes like pizza and instantly, a grocery shopping list was made. Thanks Erica!!

get in there

There’s a lot to love about this pasta salad. I love how the dressing coats the pasta…getting into every little nook and cranny of the fusilli I used. Look at that picture. Do you see what I’m talking about?? There’s something absolutely magical about the combo of walnuts & fennel. It actually mimics the taste of sausage! I could probably eat the entire batch of the dressing-plain. It’s THAT good. When added to this pasta salad it’s killer! The tang of red onions…the sweetness of roasted peppers…that peppery bite of arugula…the creaminess of the cannellini beans…and the crunch of toasted walnuts…oh dear. I think I’ve fallen in love with yet ANOTHER salad. I’m totally looking forward to leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

And we’re off!

Let’s make the dressing first! Gather your ingredients.

fun stuff

Put the sun-dried tomatoes in some hot water to rehydrate!

soaking sun-dried tomatoes

Toast walnuts and add them to the food processor with the fennel seeds.

let's get PULSING

CHOP! Take a taste. It kinda tastes like sausage, huh? Weird!

tastes like sausage

Add in the rest of the ingredients…hold off on the marjoram at this point. BLEND!


Now welcome the marjoram. Pulse! Now take a taste. Good, huh?

sun-dried tomato dressing

And now it’s time to assemble!

a whole lotta fun is about to happen

Toss the dressing in with the pasta & all the other fun stuff.


Add in the beans & arugula. MIX.


Plate some up!

perfect  lunch

And chow down! You’re really going to love it.

Sun-Dried Tomato Arugula Pasta Salad

Serves 6

(recipe slightly adapted from Appetite for Reduction, by Isa Moskowitz)

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (bought in dried form, not in oil)
  • 3 tablespoons walnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallot
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • a few pinches fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

Place sun-dried tomatoes in bowl of hot water for 15 minutes to rehydrate. When they are soft, drain and set aside.

Toast the walnuts in a heavy bottomed pan for about 7 minutes over medium heat. Transfer walnuts into a food processor with the fennel seeds until finely chopped. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the marjoram and puree until relatively smooth. Add the marjoram and pulse a few times to combine. Keep the dressing in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

For the pasta salad:

  • 8 oz. fusilli pasta
  • 1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted red pepper, chopped
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 recipe sun-dried tomato walnut dressing

Cook the pasta al dente in salted water according the package directions. Drain pasta in a colander and rinse with cold water. Place in the fridge to cool completely. Once pasta has cooled, toss all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Keep chilled until ready to eat.

  • Jessica

    Salad temptress! Here I’m craving it when I haven’t even had it. This reminds me of a raw vegan pasta dish I had at a restaurant recently and they topped it with “parmesan” made from pine nuts! I really need to try to crack that one.

  • Katrina

    This sounds so healthy and tasty. I’m definitely bookmarking this!

  • Susanne

    I’m loving this cookbook too, but you certainly sold this salad for tonight! I’m thinking even the kids will be sold on pizza salad. Do you have any of her other books?

  • Marci

    those walnut halves are gorgeous! what a beautiful salad – and how nicely you plated it.

  • Dana

    Looks great! I’m actually not surprised about the sausage taste – fennel totally does that to me and I haven’t had real sausage in 24 years. Hope you guys are well!

  • cindy

    i love pasta salad in most forms…this one looks amazing! i have this and your recent slaw in the que 🙂

  • Melinda

    This looks absolutely delicious!! Definitely need to put this on the list to try asap! At this little italian place, they had a sun dried tomato/roasted pepper sauce for their bread, and it had a flavor of sausage, too! I didn’t realize it was the fennel – but oh god it was so good!

  • Jess

    there are so many variations on pasta salad, it’s nice to have yet another option!

  • Nicole

    I’ve made a similar salad before (similar in that it has sun-dried tomatoes processed for the dressing) but the fancy spices and additional of arugula that yours has makes this tempting! When I made mine, someone that normally dislikes tomatoes thought there was bacon in it 🙂 And yours tastes like sausage, so this is a pretty fantastic concept!

    • Tracy

      wow! I can totally see how it tastes like bacon…there’s a little smokey vibe going on there.

  • justcooknyc

    something tells me i need to try this recipe right away

  • Michelle

    Looks wonderful. Love how the dressing came together.

  • Laura

    I made this recipe last night, but used spinach (already had some in the fridge) instead of arugula. It was delicious, and I am really excited to have the leftovers for lunch today! Thanks for the recipe!

  • TheGourmetCoffeeGuy

    Great recipe. Very effective use of sequential photos that make it easy to follow the recipe preparation steps. Thank you for sharing.

  • Jenny

    Made this today for a lunch with friends! Soooo good. I’ve been wanting to try it and was a bit skeptical since it was low-fat and I was shocked! Sooo filling and delicious. Probably the best low-fat recipe I’ve ever made.

  • Jenny

    P.S. Thanks to YOU!!

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