This easy Greek Pasta Salad recipe is the perfect make-ahead side dish for cookouts and potlucks!
Mother Nature has FINALLY decided that it’s cookout season here in Wisconsin.
When I needed an easy-to-bring side dish for my Memorial Day cookout, I came up with this Greek Pasta Salad recipe. I figured that I’d better post it in time for Father’s Day and July 4th!
Components of Greek Pasta Salad
There are a few fresh ingredients, but many come straight out of the pantry. (Have you seen my post about pantry raid recipes? Check it out: Easy Pantry Meals – Living Out of Your Pantry (and refrigerator and freezer)).
This pasta salad is dressed with a simple red wine vinaigrette, lots of herbs, and garlic. I make the dressing first thing while the pasta starts boiling. Then, I add in my garlic and chopped red onion. This is so that the garlic and onion have a chance to mellow out. Nobody wants to be smacked in the mouth with a bite of the raw stuff.
If you prefer not to make your own vinaigrette, simply use your favorite jarred Italian-style dressing.
Any tube-shaped pasta will work just fine. I used rotini, but you could also use penne, rigatoni, or cavatappi. I prefer to use whole wheat or chickpea pasta for a little extra nutritional benefit.
In addition to the aforementioned red onion and garlic, I like to add sliced artichoke hearts, cherry or grape tomatoes, and sliced cucumbers. You could also add Kalamata olives, but my family does not care for olives at all. Chopped stoplight bell peppers would also be a wonderful addition.
Making Greek Pasta Salad
This is a very easy pasta salad recipe. Mix together the vinaigrette and add the onion and garlic to marinate while you cook your pasta. I like to prep my veggies while the pasta cooks. Set up an ice bath in a large bowl that can accomodate your colander. When the pasta is soft, drain it, rinse with cool water, and submerge the colander in the ice bath. Add more ice on top and set aside for 5 minutes. Then, drain the pasta thoroughly.
Assembling the Greek Pasta Salad
I mix up the salad in batches: first add about half of the pasta to a large, plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Add half of the vinaigrette and vegetables and mix. Then add all the remaining ingredients and mix well. Lid the container and shake. Finally, refrigerate until party time (at least 4 hours and up to 3 days).
If you are bringing your Greek Pasta Salad to a cookout or potluck, do be sure to keep it cold. You don’t want a nasty outbreak of foodborne illness, after all.
That’s all there is to this easy side dish recipe. We had extra, so we kept right on eating it. I hope this pasta salad recipe is a hit with your crowd!
Easy Greek Pasta Salad
FOR THE VINAIGRETTE DRESSING
- 1 cup olive oil - extra virgin
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp mixed dried Italian herbs
- 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- 2 tsp granulated sugar - (or substitute Splenda)
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium red onion - finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove - finely minced
FOR THE SALAD
- 1 lb dried pasta - (like rotini, penne, rigatone, cavatappi)
- 8 oz cherry or grape tomatoes - sliced in half
- 1 English cucumber - quartered lengthwise and then thinly sliced crosswise
- 8 oz feta cheese
- 8 oz canned artichoke hearts - quartered (see Recipe Note #1)
Bring a large pot of well-salted water (at least 2 quarts) to a boil.
FOR THE VINAIGRETTE DRESSING
- Whisk all ingredients for the dressing through the black pepper together in a bowl. Mix in the red onion and garlic. Set aside.
FOR THE SALAD
- Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath in a large bowl (large enough so your colander can fit inside). When the pasta is soft, drain it into the colander and immediately submerge the colander in the ice bath. Add more ice cubes on top. Set aside to cool while you do any additional vegetable prep (about 5 minutes).
- Add about half the pasta into a large storage container with half of the vegetables and half of the dressing. Mix well. Add the remaining ingredients and mix. Tightly lid the container and shake well. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days. Mix again before serving.
- I like to use the non-marinated artichokes in brine. Be sure to rinse them first.
- Pitted Kalamata olives would also be a wonderful addition.
- Be sure to keep the pasta salad cold. Not doing so will increase the chances of an a outbreak of foodborne illness.