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Sunshine pasta salad

“Decanted” Dave Adams
Wine Pairings: Grenache

Pour a citrusy, high acid white wine like Oregon Chardonnay to balance the dressing at the heart of this pasta salad


This bright, lively, colorful, easy-to-assemble pasta salad belongs with the summer-y barbeque buffet tables. It can lead as the star attraction or works beautifully as part of a double bill with a protein (I’m looking at you, grilled sliced chicken breast or sliced grilled tofu!).

One thing that I’ve learned after throwing dozens of wine tastings and parties is that some dishes get consumed by the end, and others don’t, and this recipe is often the first to disappear. Meaning, I think I’m on to something. This recipe originated from a “clean out the fridge” approach one afternoon when I was reluctant to make another trip to the grocer for our nightly dinner. I combined the ingredients we had lying around. So, if you’re in charge of feeding a room full of hungry winos, but you don’t have everything on this list, you can improvise. Don’t have sun-dried tomatoes? Sub with cherry tomatoes! Don’t have rotini pasta? Sub with penne! Have you sliced green olives instead of kalamata? Go for it! I’ve included “spiralized” carrots in the instructions, but matchstick sliced or grated works just as well, as would a lovely summer squash. Get creative, and figure out what flies and what doesn’t.

The one thing that I wouldn’t mess with too much is the dressing, which is the heart of this dish. The name of the game here is BALANCE, just like a good wine. Too much acid, it’ll be too tart, too much sugar, it’ll be too flabby, so keep adjusting as needed. The optional nutritional yeast to the dressing is a personal touch I like for the slightly cheesy, umami kick it lends, but it’s just as great without it. 

You can also experiment with the garnish; some chopped parsley or thinly sliced green onion will work just as well as the chives. Warning about the rich goat cheese or feta crumbles: DO NOT mix the cheese into the body of the salad! Instead, include the cheese as a garnish just before serving, or it’ll melt into the dressing, and you’ll get a milky mess that does not improve its presentation or status as a left-over. However, this salad usually gets gobbled up before making it to a Tupperware after-life. 

For wine pairing, I like a new-world, unoaked Chardonnay or other dry, acidic, citrusy white wine, including a bracing Sauvignon Blanc (but not the tropical, New Zealand kind) and a Vermentino will also do nicely. However, we all know someone’s going to lug some rosé to the barbeque, and as it often does with so many foods, it’ll pair with this pasta salad like a champ.


  • 1 8 ounce box of pasta (rotini, bow-tie or cavatappi are my go-to’s)
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 3 cups fresh arugula or baby spinach leaves
  • 1 large carrot 
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, diced
  • ¼ cup sliced kalamata olives
  • ¼ cup banana peppers, sliced
  • ¼ cup walnuts, chopped
  • ¼ cup smoked sun-dried tomatoes (preferably non-oil packed)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup of dairy-free mayonnaise (or regular mayo if preferred)
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste



Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Then, drain into a colander and immediately rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.


While pasta is cooking, assemble the dressing in the bottom of a large bowl.


Pass the carrot through a spiralizer tool to create long ribbons, julienne, or shred using a box grater. If using zucchini or summer squash instead, do the same.


Dice the yellow pepper.


Chop the chives or parsley.


Cut ingredients into smaller pieces if needed: If the kalamata olives are not the sliced variety, cut them in half lengthwise. If the artichoke hearts are not the pre-quartered variety, quarter them. If the banana pepper rings are too large, cut them down to smaller pieces.


Add the pasta and remaining ingredients to the bowl with the dressing, and toss to coat everything.


Serve garnished with chopped chives or parsley and goat cheese or feta crumbles. Add the cheese onto individual servings or sprinkle over the whole bowl if you expect to serve the entire salad in one sitting.

Chef Image

About “Decanted” Dave Adams

Dave Adams is not a professional chef but is a devoted home cook who strives to make memorable vegetarian and vegan meals that appeal to the people who populate his life, including adults and children. Dave is a "Negan" (nearly vegan), so vegans, please don't lose your mind if he recommends butter or cheese now and again. Since Dave is also a "wanna-be wine snob" and co-hosts the Decanted Wine Podcast (, food and wine pairing is an essential component of his lifestyle. Dave is also dedicated to the art of "Dad jokes," to the bemusement of everyone in his household.