This cold bowtie pasta salad (or farfalle pasta salad) is perfect for cookouts or an easy weekday meal. Cooked and cooled al dente bowtie pasta is tossed with crumbled feta cheese, chopped spinach, green olives, sweet roasted cherry tomatoes, and pesto sauce – yum! Make your own pesto or use store-bought. It’s an easy, crowd-pleasing recipe that comes together in 30 minutes or less.

bowtie pasta salad in a colorful blue serving bowl surrounded by some ingredients in small bowls

Healthy pasta salad recipes are a warm weather staple in my house! As a Registered Dietitian, I love to load up my pasta salads with vegetables and a flavorful sauce or dressing. Have you tried my viral Greek tortellini pasta salad, tri-color pasta salad, taco pasta salad, roasted vegetable pasta salad?

I typically use rotini pasta to make pasta salads, but I sometimes I mix it up and use bowtie pasta! Also known as farfalle, bowtie pasta has plenty of surface area to hold onto whatever sauce or dressing you pair it with. In this case, we’re using basil pesto sauce!

In addition to bowtie pasta, this salad features chopped spinach, salty feta cheese, briny green olives, and sweet roasted cherry tomatoes. It’s easy to make and ready to enjoy in 30 minutes or less.

This recipe is vegetarian and can be made gluten free by using gluten free pasta.

bowtie pasta salad ingredients measured out on a light tiled backdrop

Ingredients

Everything you need to make this recipe, below:

  • Bowtie pasta: Bowtie pasta, also known as farfalle pasta, is named for its shape. Farfalle in Italian means butterfly! This short pasta shape is ideal for pasta salads because it has a large surface area to cling to sauces and dressings.
  • Feta cheese: When shopping for feta cheese, look for a whole block of cheese stored in brine. This tends to be creamier, saltier, and overall more flavorful than pre-crumbled feta cheese.
  • Baby spinach: Chopped baby spinach has a mild flavor and adds lots of nutrients to this recipe, including vitamin C, potassium, and iron.
  • Cherry tomatoes (or grape tomatoes): When roasted in the oven, cherry tomatoes become super sweet and juicy.
  • Green castelvetrano olives: Castelvetrano olives are a green Italian olive. They are firm and have a buttery flavor. If you can’t find green olives, try using kalamata olives or black olives instead.
  • Pesto: This pasta salad is fantastic with homemade pesto (try this parsley pesto or kale basil pesto)! To save time and make this recipe even easier, use your favorite store-bought pesto.
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil

Kitchen equipment needed

  • Large pot
  • Measuring cups
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Chef’s knife, 6 or 8 inch
  • Cutting board

Step-by-step instructions

cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet
1. Toss cherry tomatoes in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Roasted cherry tomatoes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet
2. Roast cherry tomatoes in the oven for about 15 minutes until they burst.
Cooked bowtie pasta in a colander
3. While tomatoes roast, cook bowtie pasta on the stovetop until al dente. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water to cool it off.
bowtie pasta salad ingredients in a bowl before being mixed
4. In a mixing bowl, combine the cooked and cooled pasta, roasted tomatoes, chopped spinach, feta cheese, and green olives.
bowtie pasta salad ingredients in a bowl before being mixed
5. Add pesto sauce to the bowl.
bowtie pasta salad in a bowl with mixing spoons
6. Use mixing spoons to mix the salad together so that everything is well combined and coated in pesto.

Serve bowtie pasta salad cold or at room temperature. If serving pasta salad at a cookout, keep it cool at 40°F or below to prevent the risk of foodborne pathogens.

Serving suggestions

You can serve pasta salad as a vegetarian main dish, or as a side dish for a cookout or gathering. I like to pair pasta salad with some protein to make it an even more filling meal.

Try pairing it with salmon, shrimp, tofu, or tempeh.

Storage

Pasta salad is a good recipe to prep in advance, because it keeps well in the fridge and it is meant to be served cold or at room temperature.

Prepare this salad up to 3 days in advance, and store it in an airtight container in the fridge.

I do not recommend freezing pasta salad, as it will change the texture and become icy.

bowtie pasta salad in a colorful blue serving bowl surrounded by some ingredients in small bowls

Spinach nutrition benefits

Spinach is packed with nutrients! Three cups of raw spinach provides:

  • 2 grams of dietary fiber
  • 410 mcg vitamin K (340% of your daily needs)
  • 24 mg vitamin C (25% of your daily needs)
  • High in other micronutrients, including ironmanganesepotassium, and vitamin A

Additionally, spinach is rich in the antioxidant chlorophyll – the green pigment that gives spinach it’s vibrant green color. Antioxidants help protect our cells and fight off inflammation, and diets high in antioxidants may help prevent certain diseases.

Olives nutrition benefits

Olives (just like olive oil) are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. Diets that include an abundance of unsaturated fats can help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Olives contain other nutrients, like vitamin E, iron, copper, and calcium.

Let me know if you love this post by leaving a comment or star rating below, and check out Instagram and Pinterest for more healthy lifestyle inspiration. Thanks for stopping by!

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bowtie pasta salad in a colorful blue serving bowl surrounded by some ingredients in small bowls

Cold Bowtie Pasta Salad with Feta Cheese and Spinach

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  • Author: Alex Aldeborgh, RD
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 6
  • Category: side dish
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: American, Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian
Save Recipe

Description

This cold bowtie pasta salad (or farfalle pasta salad) is perfect for cookouts or an easy weekday meal. Cooked and cooled al dente bowtie pasta is tossed with crumbled feta cheese, chopped spinach, green olives, sweet roasted cherry tomatoes, and pesto sauce – yum! Make your own pesto or use store-bought. It’s an easy, crowd-pleasing recipe that comes together in 30 minutes or less.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 lb bowtie pasta
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 cups baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup green Castelvetrano olives, halved
  • 1 cup pesto, homemade or store-bought


Instructions

  1. PREP: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. On the prepared baking sheet, toss the cherry tomatoes in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them out onto the baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes until some are burst open and they are soft and juicy.
    Roasted cherry tomatoes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet
  3. While the tomatoes cook, bring about 5 quarts of water to a boil on the stovetop, and add a tablespoon of kosher salt to season. Cook the bowtie pasta in the salted water according to package instructions, until pasta is al dente.
  4. Strain the pasta in a colander and run it under cold water in the sink for about a minute, or until the pasta has cooled down completely.
    Cooked bowtie pasta in a colander
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked and cooled pasta, roasted cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, chopped spinach, olives, and pesto sauce.
    bowtie pasta salad ingredients in a bowl before being mixed
  6. Use mixing spoons to toss everything together very well, until all the ingredients are evenly dispersed and coated in the pesto sauce.
    bowtie pasta salad in a bowl with mixing spoons

Notes

Serving suggestions

You can serve pasta salad as a vegetarian main dish, or as a side dish for a cookout or gathering. I like to pair pasta salad with some protein to make it an even more filling meal.

Try pairing it with salmon, shrimp, tofu, or tempeh.

Storage

Pasta salad is a good recipe to prep in advance, because it keeps well in the fridge and it is meant to be served cold or at room temperature.

Prepare this salad up to 3 days in advance, and store it in an airtight container in the fridge.

I do not recommend freezing pasta salad, as it will change the texture and become icy.