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This Mediterranean pasta salad recipe is bursting with fresh flavor! Mix up a batch as an easy side dish or quick lunch.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad
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Here’s a fresh idea for summer or anytime: this Mediterranean pasta salad recipe! This instantly became a favorite summer side dish at our house with its zingy, bright flavors. It’s got cool cucumber, juicy tomatoes and peppery arugula, mixed with chewy pasta and salty feta cheese. Hearty sun dried tomatoes give a chewy savory pop to each bite.

Why we love this recipe: The classic, zingy flavor makes this one of our favorite pasta salad recipes. We served it at a cookout where it got rave reviews, and leftovers are equally as tasty for lunch!

Ingredients in Mediterranean pasta salad

The concept of pasta salad is an American invention. The first macaroni salad recipe was published in 1914, and it’s spawned loads of variations since then! Mediterranean pasta salad is a thoroughly American concept starring flavors inspired by the region: tomatoes, cucumber, and feta cheese. Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this Mediterranean pasta salad recipe:

  • Fusilli (spirals) or other short-cut pasta
  • Cucumber
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Red onion
  • Baby arugula
  • Feta cheese
  • Mediterranean dressing: lemon juice, red wine vinegar, garlic, Italian seasoning, olive oil

The basic idea is simple: boil the pasta, chop the veggies, then toss with a simple Mediterranean-style dressing. It takes about 30 minutes to whip up, and it’s well worth the time.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Use any type of short cut pasta

This Mediterranean pasta salad works with any type of short-cut pasta noodle. We like it best with spirals, but it’s just as good with bowties or penne. Whatever the case, make sure to cook the pasta to al dente (see below). Here are a few other pasta shape ideas for mixing it up with this pasta salad:

  • Spirals (fusilli)
  • Bowties (farfalle)
  • Penne
  • Shells (conchiglie)
  • Orecchiette
  • Gemelli
  • Gigli
Mediterranean Pasta Salad recipe

Tips for cooking pasta to al dente

Al dente means “to the bite” in Italian: pasta that’s tender with a firm center. It’s extremely important to cook the pasta to al dente for a pasta salad: overcooked pasta turns out rubbery, soft and unappetizing. (Interestingly, it also has less nutrients and makes you less full.) Here are some tips on how to cook pasta to al dente:

  • Set your timer a few minutes before the package instructions indicate. The timing on many pasta packages indicates to cook the pasta too long. Start taste testing the pasta a few minutes before the package says to.
  • Taste test and look for small white fleck at the core. Catch it right when there’s a small white fleck at the core, or just when it disappears: then immediately drain the pasta. For pasta salad, we like to rinse the pasta in cool water until it cools down enough to make into the salad.

Storing leftovers and make ahead tips

This Mediterranean pasta salad recipe tastes best the day it is made, as as flavor-packed side dish. But you can also make it in advance and refrigerate until serving, or keep it refrigerated as a lunch idea to munch on throughout the week. Here are a few tips for storage:

  • Mediterranean pasta salad lasts for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. It’s ideal for making ahead or healthy lunches throughout the week.
  • Refresh the flavors before serving. Bring the salad to room temperature. Then stir in a drizzle of olive oil and a bit more crumbled feta cheese. You may or may not need an extra pinch of salt.
Mediterranean Pasta Salad

More pasta salad recipes

Love pasta salads? Us too. Try these fun pasta salad ideas:

Dietary notes

This Mediterranean pasta salad recipe is vegetarian. For vegan or plant-based, omit the feta cheese and add a bit more salt.

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Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Mediterranean Pasta Salad


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 5 to 6 1x

Description

This Mediterranean pasta salad recipe is bursting with fresh flavor! Mix up a batch as an easy side dish or quick lunch.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 8 ounces fusilli pasta
  • 1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced into half moons (2 cups)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 can artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
  • 1 handful thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 cups baby arugula (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, grated (or ½ teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup feta cheese crumbles (omit for vegan and add more salt)

Instructions

  1. Start a large pot of well-salted water to boil. Boil the pasta until al dente according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta and run cool water over it until it’s room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile, slice the cucumber and tomatoes, chop the sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts, and slice the onion.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, garlic, Italian seasoning, and kosher salt. Then whisk in the olive oil.
  4. Once the pasta is done, add it to the large bowl of dressing and toss with the chopped vegetables. Add the feta cheese and fresh ground black pepper and stir to combine. 
  5. Taste and add more salt to taste if necessary. Serve immediately. Stores up to 5 days refrigerated (leftovers taste great; allow to come to room temperature and add a swirl more olive oil or a bit more salt as necessary).
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Pasta Salad
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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2 Comments

  1. Kathie says:

    I made this salad today. I could not find baby arugula so I used baby spinach instead. It was just as awesome. Great recipe!






  2. Daniela says:

    I am obsessed with pasta salads for summer, great to have new ideas on what to add to it. The dressing also sounds yummy (And easy enough). Thanks!