Do you ever get a craving for a certain kind of food? I do – and for some reason lately (probably since we made this recipe), I’ve been craving Greek-inspired foods! Something about the zesty, salty and spicy flavors has been calling my name! And with July 4th barbecues coming up – after I mentioned my Greek food craving to Jack – he offered to make his delicious Mediterranean Pasta Salad!
Jack made a version of this Mediterranean pasta salad several years ago – but he’s taken the flavors up several notches in this recipe! It’s an easy pasta salad with classic Mediterranean ingredients – garlic, olives, tomatoes, peppers, artichokes and feta cheese, plus basil and mint for some additional fresh flavor.
But the dressing…OH…this fantastic dressing! The dressing is also made with classic ingredients…but the flavors are super intense and wonderful because the extra virgin olive oil has been heated and then flavored with garlic and oregano – making the flavors really come alive! Some salt and pepper is added for seasoning as well – and then a final splash of fresh lemon juice completes this perfect dressing.
Then – this wonderful dressing is poured over the hot, freshly cooked pasta – and the pasta absorbs some of the dressing as it cools. Honestly – I’d be happy eating the flavored pasta with just the dressing – it’s that delicious!
All of the vegetables and pasta get tossed together and then the salad is chilled. And – a final generous sprinkle of feta cheese completes this wonderful Mediterranean pasta salad.
- ¼ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic (3-4 medium cloves)
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about one large lemon)
- 12 ounces dry Ditalini (or your favorite pasta)
- Zest from one lemon
- ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives sliced in half
- ½ cup grape tomatoes cut in half
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint, leaves rolled and sliced (chiffonade)
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, leaves rolled and sliced (chiffonade)
- ½ cup red onions chopped
- 1 cup diced green bell pepper (about one medium pepper)
- 1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts drained, stems left on and quartered the long way
- 8 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- In a medium sauté pan over a low flame, add oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper and cook slowly for about 8 minutes or until the garlic just begins to brown.
- Remove from heat and add the lemon juice. Set this mixture aside.
- Start cooking the pasta per the box directions but cook just slightly under cooked.
- While the pasta is cooking, start preparing the remaining ingredients.
- When the pasta is just a little under done, remove to a colander and drain but do not rinse.
- Place cooked drained hot pasta in a large bowl and add the flavored oil and lemon juice mixture. Stir and let sit at room temperature for a few minutes.
- Add all other prepared ingredients except feta and stir. Refrigerate until chilled then stir in the feta and serve.
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