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Some of my favorite recipes are the ones that demonstrate that food does not need to be complicated to be sublime. It’s a refreshing reminder that my primary role as the maker (and eater!) of the meal is to allow the ingredients shine. I can’t imagine a better season to let my ingredients to do their natural, tasty thang than summer, the season of bounty and easy living, nor can I imagine a better recipe to celebrate it with than this Creamy Arugula Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese and Tomato.

EASY Creamy Goat Cheese Pasta Salad with Arugula and Tomato. This quick but impressive dish is perfect for summer picnics, barbecues or anytime you need a fast, healthy dinner! Recipe at | @wellplated

As much as I adore simple recipes that, at first forkful, make me sing with appreciation for the great small joys of culinary life—joys such as ripe, sweet summer tomatoes, creamy dreamy goat cheese, and a bright pop of lemon, all of which you’ll find in this goat cheese pasta salad recipe—creating them can be challenging.

“More is more” is a tempting and often pervasive philosophy. In reality (and in pasta salad), however, sometimes a small handful of thoughtful ingredients are all you need.

Easy, CREAMY Goat Cheese Pasta Salad with Arugula and Tomato. Ready in 15 minutes! Fast, fresh, and perfect for a picnic side dish, barbecues, and light summer meals. Recipe at | @wellplated

About This Creamy Pasta Salad

One lady who continually inspires me to create thoughtful is my friend Kathryne of the blog Cookie and Kate. Kathryne and I met on a blogging trip several years ago, and when she told me that she was writing a cookbook, I could not have been more thrilled.

Not only does Kathryne carefully consider every single aspect of her recipes, from whether or not the ingredients are easy to find, to how many measuring spoons you are going to dirty to make them, to if the flavor balance is exactly what she is after, she tests her recipes more than any food blogger I know.

I knew that whatever book she wrote was going to be beautiful, incredibly well thought out, and LOADED with winning recipe after winning recipe.

Guess what? I was right! After two years of pouring her heart into every page and recipe, Kathryne’s book Love Real Food is on shelves now, and I couldn’t be happier for her or more excited to try as many recipes from it as possible.

Creamy Arugula Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese and Tomato. Recipe at | @wellplated

Kathryne’s blog is one of my go-tos anytime I need a fresh, healthy meal (this Mexican Kale Quinoa Salad is a recent favorite) or a wholesome baked treat. Her recipes are vegetarian, and I’ve yet to encounter a single one that wasn’t ultra satisfying, no meat necessary, or as delicious as she promised.

Selecting which recipe from Love Real Food to share with you was not a simple task—would it be the Fresh Greek Nachos with Herbed Tahini Sauce or the Blueberry Almond Cake? The Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies or the Tropical Mango Smoothie Bowl? SO MANY OPTIONS.

I ultimately settled on this goat cheese pasta salad, because it felt light, sunny, and ideal for summer, because the prep looked easy breezy, and because any recipe with the words “goat cheese” in the title is already halfway to winning my undying love.

Creamy Goat Cheese Pasta Salad with Arugula and Tomato. Ready in 15 minutes! The perfect picnic recipe for summer barbecues or for a light summer meal. Recipe at | @wellplated

Verdict: DELICIOUS. Also, genius. The creamy pasta “sauce” comes entirely from the goat cheese itself as it melts into the warm pasta.

From there, all you need is a splash of lemon and a dash red pepper flakes to bring the pasta to life. Fresh arugula adds a lively bite, olives a hint of brininess (feel free to omit them if they aren’t your thing), and cherry tomatoes provide juicy pops of sweetness. It’s summer in all its beautiful simplicity, transformed into a giant bowl of pasta.

I inhaled this pasta salad for lunch approximately 30 seconds after I finished shooting the photos, then Ben ate it rewarmed with an extra crumble of goat cheese for dinner that evening. Both versions received glowing reviews.

Thanks, Kathryne, for sharing your recipe!

How to Store This Pasta Salad

  • To Store. This salad is best consumed soon after making, but it keeps well, chilled, for 2 to 3 days. I like to gently reheat my leftover salad for just a few seconds in the microwave, which loosens up the goat cheese again.

Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe

  • Stock pot with insert (I added the insert recently, and I highly recommend it. It’s perfect for blanching veggies and, when you do cook pasta, ensuring you don’t toss out the pasta water by mistake).
  • Glass mixing bowl (doubles for serving!)

Creamy Arugula Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese and Tomato

5 from 5 votes
Creamy Goat Cheese Pasta Salad with Arugula and Tomato. A quick but impressive dish, perfect for summer barbecues or anytime you need a fast, healthy dinner!

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Total: 20 minutes

Servings: 4 medium or 6 side salads


  • 8 ounces whole-grain fusilli pasta or rotini pasta
  • 4 ounces goat cheese crumbled (about 2/3 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice plus more if needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 to 6 ounces baby arugula 5 to 6 packed cups
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes sliced into thin rounds
  • 1/3 cup pitted and thinly sliced Kalamata olives optional


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Cook the pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Before draining, reserve about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and pour it into a large serving bowl.
  • Sprinkle the crumbled goat cheese over the pasta, then drizzle in the olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle the salt, red pepper flakes, and several twists of black pepper on top. Pour about 1/3 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water over the pasta and toss until the pasta is evenly coated.
  • Add the arugula, cherry tomatoes, and olives (if using) and toss to combine. If the pasta seems dry, add small splashes of cooking water and toss until it’s nice and creamy. Taste and adjust if necessary—add more olive oil for richness, lemon juice for extra zing, and salt and/or pepper for seasoning. Serve immediately.


  • This salad is best consumed soon after making, but it keeps well, chilled, for 2 to 3 days. I like to gently reheat my leftover salad for just a few seconds in the microwave, which loosens up the goat cheese again.


Serving: 1(of 6)Calories: 275kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 9gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 507mgFiber: 5gSugar: 4g

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

Learn more about Erin

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  1. Erin, THANK YOU! I know how much work goes into a blog post and I really appreciate your time and kind words about the book. It was so great to see you and catch up the other day. xo!

    1. All meant so, so sincerely! CONGRATS to you on this wonderful accomplishment, and thanks for giving us so many new, delicious recipes to try.

  2. This post has made it so I can hardly wait to get my copy of Love Real Food, which just shipped today.  Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    1. WHOOO HOOOO! You are going to love it Susan. Good luck picking just one recipe to try first :) They all look so amazing!

    1. Susan, I’m so glad you enjoyed the salad! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave this review!

    1. Hi Chris, feta’s flavor would be delicious, but I worry that it wouldn’t melt into the creamy sauce like the goat cheese does. You could try half room-temperature cream cheese (cubed) and half feta. Another idea would be to try Greek yogurt instead of goat cheese and omit the pasta water. I haven’t tried any of these, so you’d be experimenting, but it would be worth a try!

  3. I made this recipe tonight for dinner. This was quick, easy and delicious also helpful when the kitchen is becoming hot due to humid weather. I wanted to add the olives but forgot to get them when I went food shopping. I think they would have added to this dish.

    I purchased the Love Real Food Cookbook. It’s wonderful! I’ve only made the smoothies so far. They were exceptionally good! I am heading toward a vegan diet and this cookbook will be one of the keys to my success!5 stars

    1. Susan, I’m so glad you enjoyed this salad! And so excited to hear that you purchased the cookbook too! Thanks for taking the time to leave this awesome review… and for the tip about the delicious smoothies. :)

  4. This looks so good! I’m going to make it this weekend. Thinking about adding chunks of good salami to beef it up enough to be served as a main dish. Can’t wait! :) Thank you Erin!

  5. Delicious!  I needed a quick side dish for this evenings meal and not only my family but my mother-n-law loved it!
    Erin, I am your greatest follower and my family appreciates it!  I am anxiously awaiting your book. Congratulations and I wish you much success! 5 stars

  6. Made this for dinner tonight. It was so yummy! I like vehicles for my veggies that involve pasta and/or cheese. This has both! Excited to reheat it for dinner tomorrow.5 stars

  7. I don’t have arugula but I have fresh spinach. Do you think that would be an okay replacement?

    1. Hi Laura! It won’t have quite the same flavor, but it should work fine. I hope you enjoy it!

  8. Hello, all,
    I, too, have Kate’s book saved in my cart to gift my son, who is now joining his wife in Vegetarianism..
    It’s a nice note to see that Erin and Kate are friends, as I cook from both their sites all the time~
    it’s a small world, sometimes.
    I’m hoping to make this salad for a dinner I’m hosting..
    Would gouda work at all? I also like to work with Cheddar cheeses, any chance a mild one, shredded, would work?
    I hope to hear back, I’m making my list as we speak ~
    And, can you make a suggestion for a soup I can serve with it? I’m entertaining the idea of re-thinking what I had planned, in favor of this salad.
    Thanks for your inspiration~

    1. Hi Tracy, I think any cheese could work! The cheese will change the flavor profile some but I think those two can be pretty forgiving in a pasta salad. Soup ideas would be this cauliflower soup: , this tomato bisque: , this asparagus soup: or even this french onion soup: Enjoy!