Greek Pasta Salad
Packed with fresh tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers—not to mention Kalamata olives and feta cheese—this pasta salad has all the flavor of your favorite Greek salad! The lemony garlicky dressing is also flavorful enough to stand up to olives and feta, but it doesn’t overpower the more delicately flavored ingredients such as cucumber and tomato.
Another bonus? Instead of dealing with salad greens, which get soggy the longer they sit, this version holds up way better on a picnic table.
CHOOSE ANY PASTA YOU LIKE! EVEN GLUTEN-FREE!
Feel free to use your favorite pasta shape here. I liked rotini pasta the best, but penne or farfalle could also be excellent.
I follow a gluten-free diet, so when testing this recipe, I tried it with a lentil-based pasta, regular gluten-free pasta, and a chickpea pasta. We loved the way the lentil-based pasta held together even after a few hours in the fridge, and added a hearty flavor to the salad. This one was our favorite.
MAKE-AHEAD GREEK PASTA SALAD
You can prep all of the ingredients for this Greek pasta salad the night before and store them in separate containers or bowls, including the salad dressing. Aside from the pasta, nothing else requires cooking—which is really nice on hot summer days.
If you prepare the pasta ahead of time, rinse the pasta to cool it off and remove some of the starch. Then, toss with a tiny bit of olive oil, transfer to a container with lid and cover it tightly. You can prepare this the day before and keep it refrigerated until you assemble the salad.
You may have some dressing left over, but it will keep well in a covered glass jar in the fridge. I’ve used this versatile dressing on salads, on fish, and to enhance the flavors of grilled veggies.
SOAKING THE ONIONS
I love the flavor of red onion, but sometimes their punchy bite can overpower a dish. A chef friend taught me a simple technique for taming raw onion. A ten-minute soak in cold, lightly salted water keeps the onions crisp and brightly flavored, yet mellows them out enough to play harmoniously with other ingredients.
OTHER PASTA SALADS TO TRY!
- Pesto Pasta Salad
- Shrimp, Bacon and Avocado Pasta Salad
- Pasta and Bean Picnic Salad
Greek Pasta Salad Recipe
For the lemon olive oil dressing:
- 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (from 2 to 3 lemons)
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
For the pasta salad:
- 1 pound rotini pasta, or other pasta shape of your choice
- 1/2 small red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
- 1 red pepper, finely diced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- 1 cucumber, quartered and sliced
- 1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
1 Cook the pasta and drain: Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook pasta until al dente. Immediately rinse in cold water until the pasta is cool to the touch.
2 Soak the onions: Soak the slices of onion in cold water with a pinch of salt. After 10 minutes, drain the water from the onions.
3 Make the dressing: In a small lidded jar, shake all the dressing ingredients together. Taste and add more seasonings to taste.
4 Assemble the salad ingredients: In a large bowl, mix together the cooled pasta, drained red onion, peppers, tomatoes, olives, feta, cucumber, and parsley. Toss gently with 1/4 cup of the lemon olive oil dressing and mix. Add more dressing, in small increments, as needed.
You may not use all of the dressing, but it stores well in the fridge for about a week. Season with salt, pepper to taste.