Mediterranean Pasta Salad

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 Mediterranean Pasta Salad overflows with delicious ingredients, including miniature farfalle pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, artichokes, and feta cheese. A tangy oregano-lemon vinaigrette finishes it off. Add some leftover grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken to turn this salad into a meal or enjoy as is for a great side dish or potluck favorite.

Try some of our other pasta salads next; this Greek Pasta SaladMexican Street Corn Pasta Salad, and Autumn Crunch Pasta Salad are all reader favorites on this site!

Overhead image of Mediterranean Pasta Salad.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Several weeks ago, on a girl’s Bunco night, we enjoyed a delicious pasta salad! Ever since then, I have not been able to stop thinking about it! So many of my favorite ingredients – sundried tomatoes, pasta, Kalamata olives, parsley, and arugula…

And since I can’t get it out of my mind, I had to create my own take on that recipe! I’ve added a few more of my favorite ingredients: avocado (I’m thinking you aren’t surprised with this one!), cucumbers, rotisserie chicken, and feta cheese. I couldn’t quite remember the dressing my friend used on her salad but it tasted light and fresh, so I’ve used a favorite from here on the blog (the lemon vinaigrette from this sweet potato quinoa salad) and tweaked it ever-so-slightly to pair perfectly with this salad.

Picking a favorite pasta salad I’ve shared on this site feels akin to picking a favorite child, but I do have to say this one ranks pretty high up there. 🙂

Image of Chelsea making the dressing for this salad.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad tips

  • Use pasta that has a lot of ridges: Using pasta that has a lot of texture allows for the dressing to coat it better and get into all the nooks and crannies. This leaves you with a more flavorful pasta salad. Our personal favorite to use in this recipe is miniature farfalle pasta.
  • Salt the pasta water. Since this pasta is eaten cold, the flavors tend to get muted. Make sure the pasta is well-salted as it cooks since salting is the only chance you have to season the actual pasta. Don’t be afraid to add more salt to the finished Mediterranean Pasta Salad if it needs it. Read about how to properly salt your pasta water here. As a general rule of thumb, I add 1 teaspoon of salt to every 4 cups of water.
  • Assemble this salad right before eating. This is not a pasta salad that sits well with the dressing. The dressing wilts the spinach/arugula mix quickly, giving it an unpleasant texture. If making it in advance, store the salad separately from the dressing and combine the two right before eating. Only dress meal-sized portions. Process shots-- images of the pasta being cooked; dressing being made; and salad being assembled.

What should I put in a pasta salad?

We load this Mediterranean Pasta Salad with lots of veggies, feta cheese, and rotisserie chicken. If you aren’t a fan of some of the ingredients, leave them out and simply increase the quantities of the other salad additions. Make this salad exactly how you’ll love it, keeping the quantities of additions roughly equal. This salad has some chopped rotisserie chicken in it, but you can easily leave it out to make the salad vegetarian– no changes necessary. 

Below are a few notes on some of the ingredients in this salad:

  • Sun-dried tomatoes with herbs: These are my current favorite sun-dried tomatoes. They’re sliced (julienne cut) and packed with herbs and olive oil, and don’t require any additional prep. I recommend avoiding the sun-dried tomatoes in a packet; look instead for the olive oil-packed tomatoes for this recipe.
  • Use good quality jarred artichokes and olives. The jarred artichokes and olives can be meh or really great depending on the brands you buy. I highly recommend DeLallo’s® (not sponsored, I just love their products) oil-packed artichokes for this salad. 
  • Lettuce. I like adding a spinach-arugula blend but feel free to add just baby spinach (coarsely chopped) if that’s what you prefer.
  • Ripe avocado. A ripe avocado adds a great creaminess and flavor to this salad. You can tell if an avocado is ripe when it yields to gentle pressure (think: touching the tip of your nose).
  • Make sure to get flat-leaf Italian parsley, as opposed to curly for this recipe. Flat-leaf parsley has a more robust flavor and curly parsley is used more commonly as a garnish.

Image of the Mediterranean Pasta Salad being mixed together after being dressed.

Pasta Salad FAQs

1Can you make pasta salad the night before?

Short answer: YES! Longer answer: It actually sits really well as long as the juicy elements, including the dressing, aren’t mixed in. Store the salad separate from the avocado, feta, and dressing, and add those three ingredients right before serving for a fresh and delicious salad!

I like to keep all of the dressing ingredients in a Mason jar and then add the dressing right before serving. Dress this salad to taste, as many dressing recipes make a lot. (We use all the dressing, but we love a heavily dressed pasta salad!) Also, note that the pasta does absorb the dressing more and more as this salad sits–which is another reason to hold off adding the dressing till the last minute.

2How long will pasta salad last in the fridge?

Pasta salad is best eaten within 3-4 days but it does meal prep really well if you store the dressing and other juicy toppings separately.

If I meal prep with pasta salad, I divide it into 3 or 4 equal parts and then put the dressing and cheese in small separate containers to be added right before eating. As far as the avocado goes, I’ll usually separate it into 3 or 4 parts and keep each part in a plastic bag. Pro Tip: squeeze on some lemon juice on the exposed side of the avocado and keep it in the fridge until you add it to the salad. Keep dressing separate and combine individual portions of everything right before eating.

Don’t be concerned if the dressing separates or forms clumps — this is just the olive oil solidifying, which it does at cold temps. Take the vinaigrette out of the fridge about 20-30 minutes or so before you need it, to bring it back up to temperature; then shake it up to remix.

3Can I make pasta salad for a crowd?

Most pasta salads easily double or triple. They scale really well either to increase or decrease the quantities. Simple divide or multiply the ingredients by the number of people you want to feed with this salad.

 

4Is pasta salad healthy?

With a healthful dressing (no mayo or sour cream in this dressing) and plenty of vegetables, I’d say pasta salad can be pretty healthy! Although olive oil and avocados are high in fat and calories, they are good-for-you ingredients and contain healthy fats your body needs! Read the ingredient list on any pasta salad recipe, and if the individual elements are pretty healthy, the salad will be, also. The big danger zones for pasta salads are the yummy garnishes and add-ins, like candied nuts, crispy fried onions, sweetened cranberries, and the like.

5Do you rinse the pasta for pasta salad?

Rinsing the drained noodles in cold water helps bring the pasta down to room temperature quickly (so the salad can be eaten cold, not hot) and ensures the noodles don’t stick together.

Rinsing does wash off some of the starch, and starch is what helps sauces cling to the pasta.

If an individual recipe calls for rinsing, it’s a good idea to rinse.

6How do you keep pasta salad moist?

Because pasta is made of starch, it absorbs liquids and can become dry. To combat this, I usually add quite a lot of dressing to pasta salads. Instead of adding it all at once, add most of it when you mix the dish, and then gradually add more as needed to re-moisten the salad.

7Is it best to make pasta salad the day before?

I recommend making pasta salad the same day it will be enjoyed; we always like it best on day one!

That said, if it suits your schedule to make it ahead of time, taking the precautions outlined above will help make it something you’ll enjoy.

Up close overhead image of the Mediterranean pasta salad showing all the ingredients

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Mediterranean Pasta Salad

5 from 5 votes
This flavorful Mediterranean Pasta Salad overflows with delicious ingredients. We've got miniature farfalle pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, artichokes, feta cheese, and more! This salad is drizzled with a tangy oregano-lemon vinaigrette. Add some leftover grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken to turn this salad into a meal or enjoy as is for a great side dish or potluck favorite.
Print Recipe

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

5 from 5 votes
This flavorful Mediterranean Pasta Salad overflows with delicious ingredients. We've got miniature farfalle pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, artichokes, feta cheese, and more! This salad is drizzled with a tangy oregano-lemon vinaigrette. Add some leftover grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken to turn this salad into a meal or enjoy as is for a great side dish or potluck favorite.
Course Dinner, Main Course, Salad
Cuisine Healthy, Mediterranean
Keyword Mediterranean Pasta Salad
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 38 minutes
Servings 10 servings, as a side
Calories 509kcal
Cost $7.32

Ingredients

Salad

  • 3 cups (267g) uncooked mini farfalle pasta, (any smallish pasta works great!)
  • 1 cup (136g) chopped rotisserie chicken, optional
  • 1/2 cup (85g) sun-dried julienne cut tomatoes (packed in oil), drained
  • 1/2 cup (77g) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (138g) chopped English or Persian cucumbers (~1/2 of 1 large English cucumber)
  • 1/3 cup (43g) Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups (60g) lightly packed baby spinach and arugula mix (or just coarsely chopped baby spinach)
  • 1/4 cup (12g) fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado, pit removed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup (50g) feta cheese

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup (59g) red wine vinegar
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons (25g) Dijon mustard (do not use regular mustard)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon (17g) honey
  • 1/2 cup (98g) olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons (45g) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • PASTA: Prepare the pasta according to package directions. (Don't cook all the pasta; only use 3 cups!) Make sure to generously salt the water (I add 1 teaspoon to every 4 cups of water), or the whole salad will taste under-seasoned. Drain pasta, rinse under cold water, let cool, and allow to dry.
  • SALAD ADDITIONS: Add the chopped rotisserie chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped artichoke hearts, chopped cucumber, coarsely chopped olives, arugula/spinach blend, and parsley to a large bowl, along with the pasta. If eating right away, also add in the feta and avocado. (If not eating it right away, cover the salad and refrigerate without the feta and avocado -- See Note 1).
  • DRESSING: In a large Mason jar, combine all the dressing ingredients. Season to taste with salt (I add 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt), and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the lid on the jar and shake to combine. Store dressing in the fridge until ready to dress the salad. Shake again before dressing the salad.
  • SERVE: When ready to eat, drizzle on the prepared dressing (add to preference; you may not want to add it all right away. We typically add most of it and then a bit more to moisten the salad as it settles). Gently toss salad. Adjust any seasonings (salt and pepper) to taste and serve.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: This salad stores well as long as the avocado, feta cheese, and dressing aren’t mixed in. Store the salad separate from the extra toppings and add those ingredients right before serving.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 509kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 416mg | Potassium: 610mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1985IU | Vitamin C: 32mg | Calcium: 160mg | Iron: 3mg

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

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A delicious and healthy mediterranean pasta salad with arugula, veggie, and chicken salad with the best lemon vinaigrette! (Vegetarian option) via chelseasmessyapron.com #mediterranean #pasta #salad #easy #healthy #quick #potluck #party #healthy #avocado #tomato #olive #arugula #kidfriendly #feta
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9 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This looks absolutely amazing!!!! Love all of the ingredients together…and perfect for meal prep for easy lunches! 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    I absolutely loved this recipe! I’ve been mostly vegan for 45 years, and this was a huge hit with my family! I made it as the recipe says the first time, and the second time I served it with Trader Joes lemon ricotta ravioli’s, which made it vegetarian :-). Such a delicious summer meal! Thank you.

    1. I am sooo happy you loved this! It sounds amazing with that ravioli! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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