Mediterranean Pasta Salad: A Flavorful Summer Side Dish

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Pasta salads are a staple dish for those who enjoy easy meals. This Mediterranean pasta salad is one of the more delicious versions, and it’s also perfect for summertime.

This dish is light and refreshing in taste, which makes it a good choice when you want something that doesn’t weigh you down but still fills your stomach at lunchtime or as a light dinner.

Whip this Mediterranean pasta salad up in under 30 minutes with ingredients like cherry tomatoes, arugula, feta cheese, penne pasta, and fresh basil. Here’s how to make this delicious Mediterranean pasta salad recipe!

horizontal picture of the mediterranean style pasta salad

Ingredients for the Mediterranean pasta salad recipe

  • 1 16-oz. box penne pasta – you can use a different type of pasta like rotini or elbow macaroni if you prefer
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups of fresh arugula
  • 12-15 large, thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cups Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  • 3 oz. Feta cheese, roughly chopped

Ingredients for the Lemon Vinaigrette

  • ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tablespoons of honey
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

vertical picture of pasta salad with mediterranean ingredients

How to make Mediterranean pasta salad

1. Add pasta to boiling, salted water, and cook until just al dente according to the package directions. Drain, rinse in cold water, and set aside.

2. While the pasta is cooking, mix up the vinaigrette ingredients in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and shake vigorously until emulsified. Set aside (or prepare in advance and store in the refrigerator).

3. Add olive oil and garlic to a skillet set over medium heat. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, or until the garlic develops some color.

4. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or just until the tomatoes are warmed through. Remove from heat and stir in the fresh arugula. Set aside.

5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the warmed tomato and arugula mixture with the fresh basil and Kalamata olives. Add the cooked penne pasta along with both types of cheese. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, then drizzle 3 tablespoons of lemon vinaigrette over top for added flavor. Toss together until combined

6. Transfer pasta salad to a large serving bowl. Add arugula, basil sprigs, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese on the top with some vinaigrette on the side for dipping. Enjoy!

mediterranean pasta salad in bowl

Don’t overcook the penne pasta.

It should only be cooked until al dente. Pasta that has been overcooked takes on a dull color and is almost mushy in texture. No one wants a mushy pasta salad! The pasta should hold up and have a little bite.

Do you rinse pasta for a cold pasta salad?

Cold pasta salads, such as this Mediterranean Pasta Salad, require cold water rinsing to prevent the pasta from cooking further. This also prevents the pasta from sticking together.

Can You Make This Mediterranean Pasta Salad Ahead Of Time?

Yes, the pasta can be made ahead of time. It’s actually better that day because the pasta can soak up all the flavors of the delicious vinaigrette. It will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days – just give it a quick toss before serving.

How long will pasta salad last in the fridge?

This Mediterranean Pasta salad will last for about 5 days in the fridge since there is no meat to worry about. You may add the arugula when ready to serve to prevent them from wilting. You may also set up the salad and store the Vinaigrette separately until ready to serve.

Variations on this pasta salad

You can add cooked chicken to this delicious pasta salad if you like.  Also, sun-dried tomatoes may be used instead of cherry tomatoes or olives. This Mediterranean pasta salad recipe is very versatile – pick your favorite Mediterranean flavors!

Yield: 6 servings

Mediterranean Pasta Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

mediterranean pasta salad with arugula square image

This salad offers a variety of flavors in every mouthful, from the peppery bite of arugula to the saltiness of Kalamata olives and Feta cheese. The robust taste is complemented by penne pasta and made more filling with cherry tomatoes. It’s tasty enough that you can serve it as a light main course.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

For the Pasta Salad

  • 1 16-oz box penne pasta
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups fresh arugula
  • 12-15 large fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cups Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 3 tablespooons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 oz. feta cheese, roughly chopped

For the Lemon Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Instructions

1. Add pasta to boiling, salted water, and cook until just al dente according to the package directions. Drain, rinse in cold water, and set aside.

2. While the pasta is cooking, mix up the vinaigrette ingredients in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and shake vigorously until emulsified. Set aside (or prepare in advance and store in the refrigerator).

3. Add olive oil and garlic to a skillet set over medium heat. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, or until the garlic develops some color.

4. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or just until the tomatoes are warmed through. Remove from heat and stir in the fresh arugula. Set aside.

5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the warmed tomato and arugula mixture with the fresh basil and Kalamata olives. Add the cooked penne pasta along with both types of cheese. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, then drizzle 3 tablespoons of lemon vinaigrette over top for added flavor. Toss together until combined

6. Transfer pasta salad to a large serving bowl. Add arugula, basil sprigs, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese on the top with some vinaigrette on the side for dipping. Enjoy!

Notes

Garnish with additional arugula leaves, sprigs of fresh basil, and grated Parmesan cheese.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 407Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 343mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 3gSugar: 14gProtein: 8g

These nutritional calculations might not be accurate. Please speak with a licensed nutritionist to assist you.

Did you make this recipe?

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flavorful pasta salad with mediterranean flavors

Mediterranean pasta salad is a perfect dish for summer because it’s light, flavorful, and filling. You can add your favorite Mediterranean ingredients to this recipe so the possibilities are endless! This pasta salad will keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days, so it’s perfect for parties, potlucks, and backyard barbecues.

Have you tried this recipe? Let us know what you think!

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