So many pasta salads start with a great base - perfectly cooked pasta and a bevy of crisp, fresh vegetables - but fall apart when it comes to the dressing.

To us, the perfect pasta salad dressing requires a balance of savory, tangy flavors, with just a hint of sweetness. To create that for this salad, we start with oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, which provide a deeply savory, rich flavor. For tang, we puree the tomatoes with a mix of light mayonnaise and plain Greek yogurt. Finally, just a tablespoon of brown sugar ties everything together with a subtle sweetness.

For our vegetables, we went with red bell pepper and fennel - along with a host of fresh herbs - but you could substitute whatever vegetables you prefer. Lightly blanched carrots or green beans, as well as chopped radishes and raw corn kernels would be a fine start.

Sun-Dried Tomato Macaroni Salad

Start to finish: 21/2 hours (30 minutes active)

Servings: 10

Ingredients

16 ounces dried small pasta (such as elbow or farfalle)

1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained

1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt

1 red bell pepper, cored and diced

1 fennel bulb, trimmed and diced

8 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls (very small balls)

3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain the pasta and spread on a rimmed baking sheet to cool.

While the pasta cooks, prepare the dressing. In a blender, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, salt, pepper, brown sugar, mayonnaise and yogurt. Blend until smooth, then set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the dressing with the cooled pasta, bell pepper, fennel, mozzarella and herbs. For best flavor, cover and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Nutrition information per serving: 300 calories; 90 calories from fat (30 percent of total calories); 10g fat (4g saturated; 0g trans fats); 20mg cholesterol; 42g carbohydrate; 3g fiber; 5g sugar; 11g protein; 200mg sodium.