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This Mediterranean Pasta Salad has cooked pasta tossed in a fantastic dressing along with tomatoes, peppers, artichokes, olives, and feta cheese, plus fresh basil and mint. You’re going to love this flavorful salad!
A Favorite Pasta Salad Recipe
Warm weather is finally here and invitations to end of school celebrations and summer cookouts are just around the corner too. Be sure to add this fantastic Mediterranean Pasta Salad to your menu – it’s a crowd favorite!
This is an easy pasta salad with classic Mediterranean ingredients – garlic, olives, tomatoes, peppers, artichokes, and feta cheese, plus basil and mint for some fresh herbal flavor.
But the dressing is the star of the show, and it complements the other ingredients so well. Extra virgin olive oil is heated and infused with fresh garlic and oregano – making the flavors really come alive. Some salt and pepper is added for seasoning – then a final splash of fresh lemon juice completes this perfect pasta salad dressing.
Why You’ll Love Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- Delicious zesty, fresh flavors are infused in every bite of this healthy salad.
- It can be served as a meatless meal, or as a side dish with grilled meats and seafood.
- This salad travels well – making it a perfect option to bring along to a neighborhood cookout or any other gathering.
“I love it! The lemon and mint with the garlic is just so incredibly surprising and delicious. Give it a try, you won’t be sorry.” – Kathleen
Key Ingredients & Substitutions
- Pasta – We used Ditalini – a small, sturdy pasta that mixes easily with the vegetables and dressing. You can use any sturdy pasta you’d like.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – This is an important flavor component in the dressing, so choose a good quality oil.
- Fresh Garlic – We always recommend using fresh garlic that you chop or mince at home, not the jarred garlic which has preservatives that change the flavor.
- Lemon – Freshly-squeezed lemon juice is best. We are not fans of bottled lemon juice as it is often bitter and lacks the truly fresh flavor. You’ll also use the zest of the lemon in the salad.
- Kalamata Olives – This specific variety of olive adds a wonderful, briny flavor to the salad. Buy pitted olives for convenience, or remove the pit yourself as you slice them in half.
- Grape Tomatoes – Smaller cherry tomatoes can also be used.
- Fresh Herbs – Fresh oregano is used in the dressing, while fresh basil and mint are added to the salad. Dried herbs won’t give you the same flavor – so do make an effort to use fresh herbs for this pasta salad recipe.
- Red Onions – The mellow flavor of the red onion really is the best for salads.
- Green Bell Pepper – Although you could swap in red, orange, or yellow bell pepper in this salad, we liked the stronger flavor of the green pepper for this salad.
- Artichoke Hearts – Buy canned or jarred plain, quartered artichoke hearts. Don’t buy the marinated artichokes – the marinade will overpower the balance of flavors in this pasta salad.
- Feta Cheese – This salty, briny Greek cheese is perfect in this salad. A Mexican Cotija cheese is a milder substitution if you can’t find feta.
Special Tools Needed
- Sauté Pan, to heat the dressing
- Pot, to cook the pasta
- Colander, to drain the pasta
- Lemon zester and juicer
- Large salad bowl
Adding a warm dressing to a pasta salad will allow the flavors to infuse into the pasta as it cools. You’ll end up with delicious flavor in every bite!
How do I make Mediterranean Pasta Salad?
- Sauté garlic, fresh oregano, salt and pepper in olive oil over a low flame until the garlic turns a golden color. Remove from the heat and add lemon juice. Set aside.
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain when the pasta is just shy of al dente.
- Pour the pasta into a large salad bowl and pour the warm dressing over the pasta, stirring to coat all of the pasta. Let cool to room temperature.
- Add the remaining ingredients (except the feta cheese) and toss again to combine. Chill until ready to serve.
- Sprinkle the feta cheese on top of the salad before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I make this salad ahead of time? Yes – you’ll want to chill the pasta salad before serving so it can be made earlier in the day.
- How do I store any leftovers? In a covered container for up to three days.
This post originally appeared on A Family Feast in 2014. We’ve updated the post and added more cooking tips, but the delicious recipe remains the same.
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- 1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic (3–4 medium cloves)
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about one large lemon)
- 12 ounces dry Ditalini (or your favorite sturdy pasta)
- Zest from one lemon
- 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced in half
- 1/2 cup grape tomatoes cut in half
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint, leaves rolled and sliced (chiffonade)
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, leaves rolled and sliced (chiffonade)
- 1/2 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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