Mediterranean Pasta Salad — Juicy tomatoes and cucumbers, black and green olives, crumbled feta, and tender pasta are tossed in a homemade balsamic vinaigrette! An EASY pasta salad recipe with Mediterranean-inspired ingredients that’s ready in under 30 minutes! It makes a big batch and is perfect for potlucks, picnics, or planned leftovers.
Table of contents
- Easy Mediterranean Pasta Salad Recipe
- Ingredients in Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- What to Serve with Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- Storage Instructions
- Mediterranean Pasta Salad FAQs
- Tips for the Best Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- More Easy Pasta Salad Recipes:
Easy Mediterranean Pasta Salad Recipe
I am a huge fan of pasta salads, especially during the summer months when meals are more casual, and I’m not in the mood for anything fussy or complicated.
This Mediterranean pasta salad checks all the boxes. Easy, ready from start to finish in under 30 minutes, and is chock full of Mediterranean inspired ingredients including juicy cherry tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, both black and green olives, crumbled feta cheese, and of course al dente cooked fusilli pasta.
This pasta salad recipe makes a big batch which is great if you want to serve it at a summer get-together, backyard barbecue, or bring it to a picnic. I always appreciate planned leftovers for no-brainer dinners or lunches the next day.
Cash Saving Tip
As a bonus, this is a very inexpensive recipe to make, especially when you consider how many servings it yields. As a tip, if you have a Trader Joe’s in your area, you can find everything you’ll need for the recipe at TJ’s and their prices are always great. Pasta for 99 cents a bag, score!
This isn’t sponsored – I’m just trying to help you save some cash when grocery prices seem to be soaring!
Finally, if this recipe looks like a winner to you, check out my Loaded Greek Salad. The vinaigrette is almost identical an there’s lots of overlapping ingredients.
The most notable difference is there’s pasta in this recipe. Another cousin to this pasta salad is this chilled Spaghetti Pasta Salad. And if you want protein check out this Mediterranean Lemon Chicken Pasta Salad.
Ingredients in Mediterranean Pasta Salad
This Mediterranean-inspired pasta salad comes together with a handful of easy-to-find and inexpensive fridge and pantry ingredients including the following:
- Fusili pasta or other short pasta
- Red onion
- Cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes
- Black Kalamata olives
- Green olives
- Feta cheese
- Fresh basil and/or mint, for garnishing
For the quick and easy whisk-together vinaigrette, you’ll need:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Dijon mustard
- Dried oregano
- Salt and pepper
Vinaigrette Shortcut Tip
It seriously doesn’t get any easier than whisking together the vinaigrette for your pasta salad dressing! However if you don’t keep those items on hand, you can use about 1/3 cup of bottled Italian salad dressing.
The flavor is NOT the same at all compared to my vinaigrette ingredients but the flavor profile works with the Mediterranean inspired ingredients.
How to Make Mediterranean Pasta Salad and Dressing
This is such a simple side dish or main dish recipe as pasta salads generally are!
Follow these straightforward steps and you’ll be enjoying your veggie and feta pasta salad in very little total time – just about 30 minutes!
- Boil the pasta in a large pot and drain it.
- While the pasta is boiling use this as your prep time to chop or slice all the ingredients including the cucumber, tomatoes, and olives if necessary and place everything in a large bowl.
- Drain the pasta, add the vegetables and olives, and sprinkle with a few tablespoons of cheese.
- Whisk together the vinaigrette, drizzle over the top, stir, and serve!
One of the best things about a cold pasta salad recipe like this one is that the ingredient list is so flexible.
Feel free to mix-and-match the ingredients based on what you have on hand. For example add or include the following:
- Artichoke hearts
- Garbanzo beans
- Diced Roma tomatoes or other tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes
- Regular cucumber instead of English cucumber
- Don’t like olives? Omit them. Only like black but not green or vice versa? No problem, just use what you do like.
- Red bell peppers or your favorite color of bell peppers
- Grilled vegetables (bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, or your favorites)
- Fresh baby spinach
- Spring greens lettuce mix or your favorite greens
- Mint instead of basil or use both mint and basil
- Fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Crumbled goat cheese instead of feta cheese
What to Serve with Mediterranean Pasta Salad
If you want to serve this as a stand alone dish for an easy-breezy lunch or casual dinner, go right ahead.
Although, if you’re paring it with other dishes for say a backyard bbq or get-together, other easy recipe ideas include:
- Creamy Corn and Bacon Salad
- Macaroni Salad
- Ham and Cheese Sliders
- Vanilla Fruit Salad
- Dill Pickle Cheese Ball
- Grilled Lemon Chicken
The great thing about pasta salads in general is that they keep very well and this easy Mediterranean pasta salad with feta is no exception.
It’ll keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days. While you can freeze it for up to 4 months of course be advised that the texture will change dramatically with the veggies.
I like to zap my leftovers in the microwave for 30 seconds. It’s not so much as to actually warm the pasta through, but it takes the cold edge off from the fridge.
Leftovers a Little Dry?
The fridge can sometimes dry out pasta but a quick remedy to this is to squirt on a bit of Italian salad dressing or any similar type of dressing or vinaigrette you have on hand.
A drizzle of olive oil also works but doesn’t add any real “flavor” whereas the Italian dressing jazzes things up a bit.
Mediterranean Pasta Salad FAQs
If you’d like to bump up the protein content of this easy pasta salad recipe, feel free to add shredded or diced poached chicken, store bought rotisserie chicken, or any leftover chicken you have on hand. Easy Perfect Chicken Breasts are another quick and easy chicken recipe that would work well in the pasta salad.
Also check out this easy Mediterranean Lemon Chicken Pasta Salad.
You can also make my Mediterranean Chicken Feta Pasta Bake.
Adding chicken as I just suggested is a great way to quickly bump up the protein level. Additionally, drained and rinsed garbanzo beans, cannellini beans, or other favorite beans also add more protein. Diced hard-boiled eggs are another idea.
Any short or small-shaped pasta will work well for the Mediterranean pasta salad including rotini, ziti, penne, farfalle, or wheels.
Tips for the Best Mediterranean Pasta Salad
Salt – Remember to salt your pasta cooking water. This gives the pasta a better overall flavor.
Also don’t be afraid to add salt directly to the pasta salad after you’ve mixed it up. There’s only 1 teaspoon of salt in the vinaigrette which for me personally isn’t quite enough salt to really go around in this big batch of food.
Remember you’re working with a pound of pasta, a pint of tomatoes, a whole cucumber, and while the olives are salty and so is the feta, I still tossed in a bit more.
Big Bowl – This recipe makes a big batch of food! Make sure to break out your largest mixing bowl so you can really get in there and stir it well.
Fresh Herbs – I really love the flavor that both fresh basil and fresh mint lend in general to recipes and they both work perfectly with these Mediterranean-themed ingredients. Fresh is the way to go with the herbs rather than dried.
Red Onions – I do not like raw onions in the least. They always just taste so, well, strong. Spicy food is great, but I don’t like the overpowering nature than any type of raw onion creates in a dish. It’s all I taste!
To combat that, by rinsing onions under cold water for about 15 seconds, you can reduce some of the bite and take the edge off.
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Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- 1 pound fusili pasta, or other short pasta such as rotini, penne, ziti, or wheels
- 1 English cucumber, diced into small chunks
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved if desired (or regular or Roma tomatoes, diced into small chunks)
- ½ of a large red onion, sliced vertically into thin strips
- ⅔ cup black Kalamata olives, pitted (from a 3.8-ounce can sliced olives, drained)
- ½ cup green olives, pitted and halved
- ½ cup crumbled Feta cheese, or more if desired (I used fat free crumbles)
- ⅓ cup olive oil, plus more for final drizzling if desired
- 2 to 3 tablespoon red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar, balsamic is stronger and will give more bite
- 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
- 1 rounded tablespoon prepared Dijon mustard, such as Grey Poupon
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- Fresh basil and/or mint, for garnishing as desired (or add about 1/4 cup finely chopped basil or mint for more intense flavor)
- Pasta Salad – Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Tips – Make sure to salt the pasta water. I also add a drizzle of olive oil into the water which helps prevent pasta from sticking. Drain after pasta is done.
- While pasta is boiling, chop or slice the cucumber, tomatoes, onion, and olives if necessary.
- Transfer cooked pasta into a very large bowl, and top with the diced vegetables, olives, and evenly sprinkle the feta; set aside momentarily.
- Vinaigrette – Whisk together all the ingredients, taste, and check for balance. Tip – It will and should taste very strong, it needs to flavor about 2 pounds worth of food. However, make sure you like the overall flavor.
- Evenly drizzle the vinaigrette over the pasta and vegetables, and toss very well to coat.
- Taste the pasta and if desired, add more salt. Tip – I added another teaspoon or so because the 1 teaspoon of salt in the vinaigrette just isn't enough for my preferences to properly flavor such a big bowl of food.
- Optionally, drizzle with additional olive oil, as desired and toss to combine.
- Garnish with the fresh basil and/or mint, as desired.
- Serve the pasta salad immediately or if desired, you can chill it before serving. Extra pasta salad will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days and in the freezer for up to 4 months. Tips – I like to zap my leftovers for 30 seconds in the microwave to take the chill off but it's optional. If the fridge has dried out your pasta salad, squirting a bit of store bought Italian dressing or similar helps. Additional olive oil also helps but doesn't add much "flavor".
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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