Growing up, I was surrounded by loads of Mediterranean food influences. I had a family full of amazing cooks and I was always served the best dishes from scratch, and now that I’m older, I realize that I was incredibly lucky to have had someone cook for me.
In Mediterranean cooking, we use a lot of flavorful plant-based foods like legumes, grains, and herbs. But, we also love our sauces and dressings.
People tend to think of Mediterranean food like Italian, but it actually is a melting pot of European, Middle Eastern, Asian, and African cuisines.
This Mediterranean pasta salad is healthy, appetizing, and most importantly, easy to put together. It contains everything a balanced meal should have.
Fresh vegetables? Check!
Good fats? Check!
Seasoning and out-of-this-world flavors? Check!
Here’s what this colorful salad goodness is made of. I like to prepare each of the recipe ingredients according to their color groups (there are shades of yellow, bright reds, and muted greens).
- Rotini pasta – Also called spiral pasta. These types are my favorite and are commonly used because they are known for holding onto dressings well.
- Feta cheese – A popular Mediterranean cheese option because of its strong briny flavor. Crumble and sprinkle over the salad as a garnish.
- Canned Romano beans – Other names include cranberry bean, Roman bean, and borlotti bean. There is another type of romano bean which is an Italian flat, green bean, but don’t be fooled they are not the same!
- Artichoke hearts – I am using a jar of artichoke hearts, which are always stocked in grocery stores.
- Cherry tomatoes – The more the better!
- Red onions – Fragrant and a little spicy, their flavor takes this pasta salad to the next level!
- Zucchini – I like to use zucchini over cucumber because cucumber has higher water content and may turn the salad soggy.
- Green olives – No Mediterranean pasta salad recipe is complete without some green manzanilla olives. They taste plump, briny, and slightly bitter.
- Italian flat-leaf parsley – Rinse and finely chop parsley to mix in.
This Mediterranean pasta salad recipe comes together with a vinegary, light dressing. To make the dressing, you will need:
- Extra virgin olive oil – The healthiest type of olive oil.
- White wine vinegar – This vinegar is made with white wine, so it is slightly alcoholic. It is not the same as white vinegar.
- Lemon juice – A little bit of citrus and acidity keeps the salad tart.
- Garlic – Small garlic cloves, minced and mixed into the dressing.
- Seasoning – Sprinkles of fresh basil, oregano, black pepper, and salt, to taste.
This salad is SO simple to prepare. That said, the most time-consuming part of making this dish is preparing all the vegetables.
Step One: Halve the cherry tomatoes, chop the artichoke hearts, and slice the zucchini, olives, and red onion. Mince the garlic. Rinse and drain the Romano beans. Chop the parsley, as well as the feta cheese.
Step Two: Boil water sprinkled with salt. Add the rotini pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions, or until al dente. Drain and rinse well under cold water.
- Pro Tip: Don’t cook pasta more than al dente or the pasta will become super soggy once it absorbs some dressing. Boil it just right to al dente, or even 30 seconds shy.
Step Three: Transfer cooked pasta to a large bowl and mix in 1 tablespoon of olive oil so that it doesn’t stick together. Set it aside to cool.
Step Four: Then, make the dressing. In a separate bowl, whisk together all of the vinaigrette ingredients until well blended. Season to taste with black pepper.
Step Five: Assemble the pasta salad, putting together the cooked pasta with all of the vegetables. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, and then toss all of the ingredients together.
- Pro tip: Start with a little bit of dressing and add more if necessary. The last thing you want is a soggy salad with way too much dressing!
Step Six: Finally, sprinkle the salad with crumbled feta cheese. Toss again lightly and serve. Bon appetit!
Expert Tips & Tricks
Follow these pro tips to make the best Mediterranean pasta salad.
- Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces: This allows for uniformity of size, and you can get some of each vegetable in every bite.
- Allow some time for the salad to marinate: After combining the dressing and salad, give it some time to marinate before digging in. The veggies and pasta will absorb all that flavor from the dressing!
- Chill the salad before serving: This salad can also serve as a cold and refreshing salad during the hot summer months. Set in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours before serving.
This salad can be made in advance, which is great news for busy people! It stays fresh in the fridge, covered with saran wrap for 3 to 5 days. I actually think it tastes best the day AFTER you make it.
The next time you’re feeling like having some Mediterranean food, skip the restaurant and come back to this easy pasta salad recipe.
For more veggie-loaded dishes, check out these links below:
- Easy Mediterranean Chicken Salad
- Summer Berry Salad With Candied Almonds & Goat Cheese
- Best Greek Salad Recipe
Mediterranean Pasta Salad Recipe
- 1 pound (approx 450 grams) uncooked rotini pasta cooked al dente
- 3 heaping cups cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 1 19 fluid oz can Romano Beans drained and rinsed (It is also known as the cranberry bean, Roman bean, borlotti bean. Not to be confused with the Italian flat bean, a green bean also called "romano bean")
- 1 14 ounce jar artichoke hearts drained and roughly chopped into small bite size pieces
- 1 ¼ cups zucchini sliced into thin rounds then into quarters
- 1 ¼ cups sliced manzanilla olives (green olives)
- 1 ¼ cups red onion thinly sliced
- 1 ½ cups feta cheese crumbled
- ¾ cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley finely chopped
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ⅔ cup white wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Prepare and chop all of the ingredients: Cherry tomatoes, drain and rinse beans, chop artichokes, zucchini, olives, red onion, Italian parsley and feta cheese.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions, or until al dente.
- Drain and rinse well under cold water.
- Transfer cooked pasta to a bowl, mix in 1 tablespoon olive oil (so that it doesn’t stick together) and set aside to cool down to room temperature.
- Make the dressing: In a separate bowl, whisk together all of the vinaigrette ingredients until well blended. Season to taste with pepper. Place in the fridge until ready to use. Whisk together again right before pouring over the salad.
- Add to the bowl of pasta- cherry tomatoes, Romano beans, artichokes, zucchini, red onion, olives and parsley.
- Remove vinaigrette from the refrigerator and whisk again before adding to the salad. Start by drizzling some vinaigrette all over the salad and toss gently to combine. Always remember the golden rule: You can always add more! Start with a little bit of dressing/ vinaigrette and add more if necessary. You don't want a soggy salad!
- Add feta cheese then toss all ingredients together! For the best results, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 to 2 hours before serving.