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This vegetarian Greek Pasta Salad recipe is a light, fresh and easy summer salad full of sweet tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, olives and feta cheese all tossed in a homemade dressing! Perfect for summer cookouts and potlucks, great to serve as a side dish or as a main meal.
What makes a salad a salad? There are really just two rules: 1) it contains raw vegetables and 2) it’s tossed in a dressing. So by that definition, we really don’t need lettuce or any greens to make a salad. And that’s why I love tossing fresh vegetables with pasta and dressing to make all kinds of pasta salads, including this favorite Greek pasta salad!
The salad is made with the usual ingredients you would find in a greek salad and dressed with a homemade vinaigrette that’s reminiscent of your favorite greek dressing. It’s light, flavorful and the perfect summer salad to take with you to picnics, potlucks, barbecues and everything in between!
What does a greek pasta salad contain?
- Pasta: Use short cut pasta, because it’s easier to get a forkful of the pasta with the vegetables this way. This includes rotini (like I use), farfalle, elbow or penne. When cooking the pasta, make sure to cook it al dente for any salads.
- Tomatoes: Use cherry tomatoes, campari tomatoes, roma tomatoes or good old vine-ripened tomatoes, as long as they’re sweet. I prefer the cherry or grape tomatoes because they’re bite sized and don’t release too much liquid that could impact the Greek salad dressing.
- Red onions: These are customary in greek salads, so you should definitely include them. However, if you want to reduce that oniony taste, I recommend soaking them in the vinaigrette before tossing them in. You can also soak them in an ice bath for a few minutes before adding to the salad.
- Olives: Go with kalamata olives for the classic tried and true ingredient. But really, any olives will work.
- Cucumbers: They have a cool fresh blandness to them, but they’re quintessential in a Greek salad recipe and great when the weather is warm.
- Feta cheese: Is it even Greek without the feta? There are lots of varieties of feta, so use the one you like.
- Optional Ingredients: You can also add pepperoncini, bell peppers or beets.
How do you make Greek pasta salad
Now that you’ve washed and prepared all the ingredients for the salad, you’ll just need to make the dressing. You can whisk together the ingredients or use a small food processor to make sure everything is well blended and homogenous. I prefer to toss it with the warm cooked pasta immediately when the pasta is done cooking.
Next, just add the vegetables and feta cheese on top and give everything a good toss.
Tips for making pasta salad
- Cook the pasta al dente. For any past salad recipes, I always recommend cooking the pasta al dente. That’s because the texture is really important to the overall appeal of the dish. Cooking the pasta al dente keeps it from becoming mushy when you toss it with the dressing.
- Salt the pasta water. There’s a myth that salting the pasta as it boils is supposed to help it cook faster. But that’s not the reason to salt the water. It’s purely for flavoring the pasta. That’s because salt penetrates the pasta while boiling, allowing it to get properly flavored. It’s much harder to flavor pasta after it’s been cooked, and you will most likely end up using way more salt than needed.
- Don’t rinse the pasta after cooking. Dress the pasta salad hot so it sucks the dressing and clings to it better without any vinaigrette leftover at the bottom of the dish. Allow the dressing, and not the cold water, to cool down the pasta.
- Chop the ingredients into bite sized pieces. Keeping all the ingredients small helps you get a forkful of everything in one bite, and that’s the best way to enjoy the myriad of flavors and textures in this Greek pasta salad.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do you serve pasta salad with?
This pasta salad is a hearty dish and can easily be served as a main meal, but I also love serving it as a side at a summer barbecue. The salad also travels well, so it’s great to take to a potluck or on a family picnic.
How long is Greek pasta salad good for?
This salad will easily keep in the fridge for 4 to 5 days, so it’s perfect to make ahead of time for a fuss free side. The leftovers make a great lunch the next day! If you do make it ahead of time, the pasta will soak up some of the dressing, so you may want to add a little more before serving.
What is Greek salad dressing made of?
The dressing for this salad doesn’t contain any mayonnaise, it is a simple vinaigrette. Made with olive oil, mustard, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and dried herbs, it’s light and refreshing. I always make extra to pour over salads in the week.
This Greek pasta salad recipe is perfect for the summer.The combination of the juicy sweet tomatoes, fresh cool cucumbers, salty olives and feta all tossed in the Greek style homemade dressing makes for a light and flavorful salad. You can adapt the salad by adding more of the vegetables you love or throwing in some greens. It’s a crowd pleaser summer salad that is so easy to throw together!
For more pasta salads:
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Greek Pasta Salad
- 8 ounces rotini pasta
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved
- 2 cups cucumbers sliced
- 1 cup red onions sliced
- 1 cup Kalamata olives pitted, sliced
- ¼ cup feta cheese
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ¼ teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions but reduce cooking time by 2 minutes so pasta is al dente; drain well.
- To make the dressing, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, dijon mustard, garlic, oregano and salt and whisk until blended. You can also blend in a small food processor to get a smoother dressing.
- In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the dressing. Then add the tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives and feta cheese and toss. Enjoy cold or at room temperature.