Greek Pasta Salad + the best Greek dressing = the best Greek Pasta Salad of your life!
This Greek Pasta Salad is the salad you want to be seen with – and stuff your face with. It’s loaded with tender pasta, juicy tomatoes, crunchy bell peppers, crisp cucumbers, sweet zippy red onions, tangy Kalmata, and salty creamy feta all all enveleoped in mouthwatering, flavor exploding Sun-Dried Tomato Feta Pesto. This Greek Pasta Salad is always a crowd pleaser for holidays, potlucks and parties or a delicious grab and go lunch or snack. You can serve this pasta salad as a side or add some grilled chicken or shrimp and serve it as a main course. You can make this pasta salad 100% ahead of time for stress free prep and entertaining. So please, add it to the menu this week because this will be the BEST Greek Pasta Salad recipe you’ve ever make – OR tasted!
Greek Pasta Salad Recipe
With Memorial Day around the corner, I thought it was time for updated Greek Pasta Salad! This Greek Pasta Salad recipe is fresh, yet satisfying with layer upon layer of fabulous flavor and texture AKA you will want to face plant into its yumminess until every last feta crumb is licked clean.
If fact, I continually found myself opening and closing the refrigerator for “just a bite” and had to pull myself away after countless forkfuls. So prepare to to fall in love and prepare to fall hard.
The medley of veggies in this Greek Pasta Salad recipes is traditional but the Sun-Dried Tomato Feta Pesto elevates this pasta salad way above the rest. Its tangy layers of flavor are seriously so delicious you will wonder how you lived with just classic Greek Pasta Salad all your life. But live deprived no more.
More Reasons to Love this Greek Pasta Salad Recipe:
- It is delicious eaten right away.
- It taste even better the next day, or the next AKA superb leftovers.
- It can be made 100% in advance.
- It’s easy to customize with your favorite add-ins or simply by what you have in the refrigerator.
- It’s a quick chop and throw together side.
- It can be made into a meal by itself by adding a protein.
- It’s loaded with everything delicious.
- It’s enveloped in Sun-dried Tomato Greek Dressing!
What is Greek Pasta Salad?
While we don’t need to understand the writings of the great Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle to enjoy this Greek Pasta Salad and other Mediterranean cuisine, it always fun to understand their culture.
Pasta has always been a staple in the Greek diet. Historians originally speculated that Marco Polo brought pasta to Italy from his explorations in China, but now it is being argued he actually brought pasta from Greece; which means Grecians have been eating pasta longer than the Italians have!
Before the Grecians had refrigerators, pasta was a great solution. They would prepare it, dry it out at the end of summer, and use it throughout the year. So, while Greek Pasta Salad may have been born out of necessity, it has become a favorite tradition that has stood the test of time with a scrumptious evolution.
Today, Greek Pasta Salad is characterized by its fresh ingredients of pasta, tomatoes, cucumbers and olives in a tangy red wine vinaigrette with plenty of feta. It is fresh, tangy, and belongs on your table all spring and summer long – starting this Memorial Day!
What Pasta is Best?
My favorite pasta for Greek Pasta Salad – or any pasta salad – is tortellini. You can use any type of cheese tortellini and I even think sausage tortellini would be yummy! Make sure you use fresh, refrigerated tortellini and not dried tortellini on the shelf.
If you want to substitute tortellini in your other pasta salad recipes, I’ve found the general rule of thumb is to substitute one 20 oz. package tortellini for every 16 oz. pasta in a pasta salad recipe.
If you don’t want to use tortellini – that is fine! Your Greek Pasta Salad will also be delicious with rotini, bow tie pasta, penne, etc.
What Veggies go into a Greek Pasta Salad?
- Tomatoes: Please use ripe cherry tomatoes for the best texture. Don’t substitute with other kinds because they will fall apart in the salad.
- Bell peppers: I use red and yellow for variety of flavor and texture but you may use any color combination.
- Cucumber: I recommend an English cucumber so you don’t have to peel it, but you are welcome to substitute with a peeled, slicing cucumber.
- Red onions: I prefer chopped red onions but you may also thinly slice them as well. If you’re not a fan of raw onions, you can cook them 30 seconds or so in the microwave to soften the bite or use less.
- Olives: I use whole pitted Kalamata olives and then chop them because they are juicer and tend to hold together better but you can use canned sliced olives if you prefer.
What is Greek salad dressing made of?
A traditional Greek salad dressing is made with:
- olive oil
- red wine vinegar
- lemon juice
I’ve combined all of the aforementioned Greek Dressing ingredients and added:
- a jar of sun-dried tomato in oil (which replaces the olive oil)
- red pepper flakes
The resulting Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Dressing will knock your socks off AKA I’m thoroughly convinced this Greek Dressing is one of the best things on the planet which, in turn makes the BEST Greek Pasta Salad!
How do I Make Greek Salad Dressing?
To make the sublime Sun-Dried Tomato Greek Dressing, its a quick pulsing of a jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil, fresh basil, almonds, feta, garlic, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
The Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto will seem like a thick paste rather than a thin Greek Dressing – which is exactly what we want. It will thin and spread out to envelop the tortellini as you stir it in.
How do you make Greek pasta salad?
This Greek Pasta Salad SO easy to make and comes together in less than 30 minutes! To make:
- Cook pasta. Cook tortellini in salted water just untl al dente. I find I always have too cook my pasta less time than the package says so make sure you check it 2-3 minutest before the package time-you don’t want to ruin your Greek Pasta Salad with mushy pasta!
- Rinse pasta. Drain, pasta and rinse with cool water to prevent it from continuing to cook while it cools.
- Toss with olive oil. Add pasta to a large serving bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil to keep pasta from sticking together.
- Make dressing and prep veggies. While the pasta is cooking, make the Greek Dressing and chop your cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, red onions and olives.
- Combine. Add the veggies to the pasta and the Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Greek Dressing and toss until evenly coated.
- Serve. You can serve your Greek Pasta Salad right away or cover and refrigerate.
That’s it for the best Greek Pasta Salad of your life!
Tips for the Best Greek Pasta Salad
- It is important to not overcook your pasta – you want it al dente which means it has a little bite otherwise it will fall apart when tossed.
- To stop your pasta from cooking after it’s removed from the heat, rinse and drain it in cold water.
- After pasta is drained, immediately add it to a large bowl then toss it with some olive oil. This prevents it from sticking and drying together.
- If you can get your hands on flavored, chunked feta, it is fabulous!
- Although this Greek Pasta Salad is delicious served right away, it is even more delicious if you have time to chill it for 2 hours in the refrigerator before serving.
How to Customize Greek Pasta Salad
- Customize Dressing. You can choose to make your dressing tangier by additional vinegar or sweeter by the addition of honey or sugar. You can make it spicier by adding additional red pepper flakes. You may also use store bought Greek Dressing if you are in a time or ingredient crunch – but please try the Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto one of these days!
- Customize Veggies. Feel free to add/substitute any other veggies your heart desires like avocado, artichoke hearts, spinach, corn, peas, asparagus or zucchini.
- Customize Cheese. You can use more or less feta cheese depending on how tangy you want your Greek Pasta Salad. You can also swap the feta for Parmesan or mozzarella balls but then you will be missing the tangingess feta adds. Instead, crumbled goat cheese is a great alternative to feta.
- Add Protein. You can add chicken, shrimp, pork, salami, ham, bacon even hard boiled eggs to your Greek Pasta Salad.
- Customize Olives. Change out the type of olive if Kalamata is not your thing.
- Extra! Garnish with additional feta and fresh parsley if desired and you have mouthwatering Greek Pasta Salad!
HOW LONG IS GREEK PASTA SALAD GOOD FOR?
Greek Pasta Salad keeps very well and will continue to taste delicious days after making To store, cover leftover Greek Pasta Salad with plastic wrap or transfer it to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Can you Make Greek Salad The Night Before?
Yes, please do! Greek Pasta Salad tastes better the next as the delectable Sun-Dried Tomato Feta Pesto infuses every pasta/veggie cell with its serious mouthwatering deliciousness.
The fact that this Greek Pasta Salad tastes even better after being stashed in the refrigerator is a huge prep ahead advantage. It tastes great for days, which means you can make it days ahead of time!
- When you are ready to serve, you may need to add additional olive oil to loosen up the salad, but I haven’t found this necessary.
- You can make the base of the pasta salad, toss it with dressing and store veggies in airtight containers until ready to serve. This allows you create a pasta salad bar so different guest or family members can add certain toppings. I recommend only leaving out the controversial toppings not everyone loves as these toppings will miss out on being bathed and marinated in the wonderful dressing.
What goes well with pasta salad?
I often am asked what to pair with my Greek Pasta Salad. The shorter list would be what NOT to pair it with. This pasta salad goes with practically everything – Greek or non-Greek cuisine alike. Here are a few of my favorite combinations – but please do not limit yourselves to my list alone:
- Greek proteins: Serve this Greek Pasta Salad with Steak Souvlaki, Chicken Souvlaki Greek Chicken, or Greek Salmon for a meal even the Grecian Gods would love.
- Chicken: It also pairs well with other non-Greek proteins such as Lemon Herb Chicken, Fried Chicken, Oven Fried Chicken, Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken, Barbecue Chicken, Lemon Pepper Chicken, Tandoori Chicken
- Beef and Pork: Spice Rubbed Steaks, Beef Brisket, BBQ Pulled Pork, Garlic Butter Pork, Barbecue Ribs.
- Sandwiches: Juicy hamburgers, Beef Brisket Sandwiches, Italian Beef Sandwiches, BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, French Dip Sandwiches, Philly Cheese Steaks, Avocado Chicken Salad Sandwiches, BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes, tomato basil sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, or BLT’s.
- Paninis/wraps: My Avocado Chicken Caprese Wraps, grilled panini, grilled cheese, all are great options to accompany Greek Pasta Salad.
- Soups: If it’s a spring day, then you can pair it warm soups such as Tomato Basil Soup. Cauliflower Soup or Navy Bean Soup or for a hot summer day, pair with cold soups such as Strawberry Soup.
- Fruit: watermelon is always a refreshing favorite, grapes, cantaloupe or you can get a little fancier with my Perfect Fruit Salad, Pina Colada Fruit Salad, Watermelon Salad, Summer Fruit Salad.
- Bread: corn bread, pitas, roti, breadsticks, because carbs are life.
- Other summer sides: This Greek Pasta Salad pairs beautifully with practically every potluck side such as Million Dollar Macaroni and Cheese, Best Baked Beans, Corn Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing, Strawberry Avocado Broccoli Salad and Kicked Up Classy Creamy Potato Salad.
Looking for more Pasta Salad Recipes?
- Italian Pasta Salad
- Cubano Pasta Salad with Mojo Dressing
- Po Boy Shrimp Pasta Salad
- Cowboy Pasta Salad
- Southwest Orzo Salad with Chipotle Honey Lime Dressing
- Creamy Bacon Pea Pasta Salad with Lemon Parmesan Dressing
- Southwest Tortellini Salad with Creamy Salsa Dressing
- Caprese Pasta Salad
- BLT Pasta Salad with Lemon Chive Dressing
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