Mediterranean pasta salad is a quick, easy side dish, full of Greek flavors! Make this recipe for your summer potlucks and barbecues!
Salty Kalamata olives and feta cheese balance fresh, sweet tomatoes, while cucumbers add a refreshing crunch. Skip the deli counter salads, which are usually overloaded with mayonnaise and lacking in flavor. This Mediterranean pasta salad recipe will soon become a staple recipe in your kitchen!
Pasta salad isn’t usually something I gravitate toward, mainly because I associate it with the stuff sold at deli counters. In my opinion, those typically aren’t very good. Kind of mushy and bland.
Preparing homemade pasta salad gives you control over each ingredient. You can made sure the pasta is just slightly chewy (aka al dente) and the ingredients are fresh and bright.
With this type of pasta salad, you want be able to detect individual flavors and textures, which will muddle after sitting in the dressing for a few days.
Pasta salad dressing doesn’t have to be heavy; I prefer it without any mayo at all. This version is more like the vinaigrette you’ll find on a typical greens salad.
- Pasta (rotini or fusilli are good options)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Red wine vinegar
- Grape tomatoes
- Red onion (shallots may be substituted)
- Kalamata olives
- Feta cheese (I recommend purchasing a block and crumbling it yourself)
UNDERSTANDING FLAVOR BALANCE
When they are developed well, recipes will usually have a good balance of 5 tastes:
This is just one of the reasons I think you will enjoy this salad. You can easily identify the different tastes.
Tomatoes add just the right amount of sweetness.
Kalamata olives and feta cheese add saltiness.
Cucumbers add a hint of bitterness.
Lemon juice and red wine vinegar add acidity.
Understanding how to properly balance flavors will make you a better cook! Learn more about the 5 tastes and how to balance flavors.
How To Make Mediterranean Pasta Salad
This rotini pasta salad is so easy to prepare. The most time consuming part is chopping the fresh produce, which still shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
- Cook the pasta, then drain and set aside.
- Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and seasonings.
- Combine the pasta with the remaining ingredients as well as the dressing.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning if desired.
- For a lighter side dish, this recipe also works with salad greens such as baby spinach or arugula instead of pasta.
My Greek Salad recipe is very similar to this one, but it doesn’t include pasta.
- If you find the red onion and garlic to be overpowering, you can cut back on them, or use shallots instead.
I always flash back to the judge on Chopped who lost his mind when any of the contestants used raw red onions.
- While I prefer using fresh herbs (especially in the summer when my garden is up and running), you can substitute dried herbs.
Always remember this ratio: 1 tablespoon fresh herbs = 1 teaspoon dried herbs.
How Long Does Pasta Salad Last?
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. However, because of the fresh vegetables combined with dressing, the rotini pasta salad tastes best eaten within the first 3 days.
After that, the cucumbers will begin losing their crunch and the tomatoes will turn soft. In general, the flavors will become a bit more muddled. If you’re making this in advance for a party, I wouldn’t prepare it more than 1-2 days ahead of time.
Pasta salads are associated with summer picnics and backyard BBQs for a reason. They pair wonderfully with grilled meats and vegetables. This Mediterranean pasta salad goes especially well with grilled chicken!
If you’re looking for other Mediterranean-inspired recipes to serve alongside this pasta salad, my hummus is an easy dip that comes together in no time. My Mediterranean Salad with Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette is also a nice option. Or how about one of my favorite desserts, baklava? This baklava from Simply Recipes looks amazing.
Looking for other easy side dishes to make?
If you liked this pasta salad recipe, be sure to check out my recipes for Guacamole, made easily from scratch.
Twice-Baked Potatoes, which pair perfectly with any grilled meat or roast.
And remember to eat your veggies – make Roasted Broccoli!
Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- 1 pound rotini or fusilli pasta
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (approximately 1 - 1 1/2 lemons)
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh oregano, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1 1/2 cups English cucumber, seeded and diced
- 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
- 2/3 cup red onion, finely diced (approximately 1/2 small red onion)
- 1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
- 1 cup good quality Feta cheese, crumbled
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions. Remove from heat, drain and rinse. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl or large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl, combine the pasta, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, olives, feta, and dressing, gently tossing to combine. Taste; add more salt and pepper if desired.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!
For immediate help troubleshooting a recipe, please email me using the form on my contact page. I’ll try to respond to urgent questions as quickly as possible! For all general questions, please leave a comment here :)
What a great post for a pasta salad! Love all the tips and descriptions. Can’t wait to make this all summer long!
Jennifer Blake says
Delicious in every way!
Kellie @ The Suburban Soapbox says
I LOVE the raw red onions in my pasta salad….I think I add it to every pasta salad I make. :-)
Sarah Fennel says
I can’t wait to make this all summer long!
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen says
I love salads like this for summer picnics and bbqs!
Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts says
Yes! Skip the mayo and make it is light and fresh like this. Such great flavors!
Natasha @ Salt & Lavender says
I make something similar! Love all the fresh Greek flavors in here!
Matt Robinson says
Every summer get-together needs this!
I made this for a potluck last week, and my husband is requesting I make it again for him. Huge hit!
This was so good! Brought it to a BBQ potluck.
This is perfect for parties and potlucks! The flavor balance is outstanding and I love all the veggies mixed in!
I love all that feta cheese running throughout. Great flavors! Thanks for sharing!
Molly Pisula says
This looks so pretty and delicious. Exactly what I want to eat all summer!
This salad is divine! I’m going to make it again and again to help hold onto summer as long as I can! YUM.
Looks so good! Can’t wait to try this one.