Greek Pasta Salad

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 Kalamata, and salty creamy feta all enveloped 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 Greek chicken or lemon garlic 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! 

up close top view of best Greek Pasta Salad in a wood bowl with feta, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, spinach

PIN THIS RECIPE TO SAVE FOR LATER

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!
showing how to make Greek Past Salad by adding pasta, tomatoes, olives, bell peppers, red onions, cucumbers to a wood bowl


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?

This Greek Pasta Salad uses the same veggies my Greek Chicken Salad, so double up and you can make them both in one week!

  • 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.
showing how to make Greek Pasta Salad by adding tomatoes, pasta, cucumbers, olives, red onions,to a large bowl

What is Greek salad dressing made of?

A traditional Greek salad dressing is made with:

  • olive oil
  • red wine vinegar
  • lemon juice
  • garlic
  • oregano
  • salt
  • pepper

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)
  • basil
  • almonds
  • feta
  • 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!

showing how to make Greek Salad Dressing by adding red wine vinegar, sun dried tomatoes, lemon juice, oregano, red pepper flakes to food processor

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!

side view of best Greek pasta salad in a wood bowl

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.
side view of greek pasta salad with feta and spinach on a white plate with a fork in it

Greek Pasta Salad Recipe Variations

  • 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!
top view of healthy Greek Pasta Salad in a wood bowl

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:

Looking for more Pasta Salad Recipes?

top view of Greek Pasta Salad recipe on a plate with olives, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, feta

Want to try this Greek Pasta Salad Recipe?

Pin it to your SALAD, PASTA, POTLUCK or HOLIDAY Board to SAVE for later!

Find me on Pinterest for more great recipes!  I am always pinning :)!

©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

top view of healthy Greek Pasta Salad in a wood bowl

Greek Pasta Salad with Tortellini

face with.  It's loaded with tender pasta, juicy tomatoes, crunchy bell peppers, crisp cucumbers, sweet zippy red onions, tangy Kalamata, and salty creamy feta all enveloped 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 Greek chicken or lemon garlic 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! 
Servings: 12 servings
Total Time: 20 mins
Prep Time: 20 mins

Save This Recipe To Your Recipe Box

You can now create an account on our site and save your favorite recipes all in one place!

Ingredients

Greek Pasta Salad

  • 1 20 oz. bag refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1 ½ cups English cucumber, sliced and quartered
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives drained and sliced

Sun-Dried Tomato Feta Pesto

  • 1 8.5 oz. jar sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup feta
  • 3 peeled garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Garnish (optional)

  • ¼ cup feta
  • 3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley

Instructions

  • Cook tortellini in generously salted water according to package directions (DON’T overcook). Drain, rinse with cool water and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl.
  • Add cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, red onions and olives.
  • Add all of the Sun-Dried Tomato Feta Pesto ingredients to a food processor and process until finely chopped.
  • Add Sun-Dried Tomato Feta Pesto to pasta and toss until evenly coated. Serve immediately or best if allowed to chill, covered in the refrigerator for 2 hours up to overnight.
  • Toss salad with additional olive oil, feta and fresh parsley before serving if desired.

Notes

*As the amount of oil in sun-dried tomato jars can vary, you may want to add additional olive oil to taste if the pasta doesn’t seem moist enough before serving.

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @CarlsbadCravings and Use #CarlsbadCravngs

Leave a Review, I Always Love Hearing From You!

©Carlsbad Cravings Original

Reader Interactions

leave a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

30 Comments

  1. Kristine says

    This looks soo good! Can’t wait to try it!! Thanks!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome! I am excited for you to try it – its definitely a new favorite over here! Thank you Kristine!

  2. Pooja Ponnusamy says

    I made the pasta salad for a party last night and it was a huge hit ! Everyone loved it ! I shared the link to your recipe with all those who asked too !

    • Jen says

      YAY! I am so happy this was such a huge hit, thank you so much and thank you for sharing my recipe!

  3. Amanda says

    I made this pasta salad today with gluten free noodles, and it was so good!! I took it to a Fourth of July party and everyone loved it! I have not tried a recipe of yours that I haven’t loved!!

    • Jen says

      Hi Amanda, I am so sorry at my delayed response as I was in the hospital when I received it and have been so behind ever since but I SO appreciate your comment! I am thrilled this was such a hit at 4th of July and so flattered you have been enjoying all my recipes – that means so much to me! Thank you!

  4. Jessica Newhall says

    Hi! Can you make this without the almonds? I want ro take to a bbq but one of the kids in our party has a nut allergy.

    • Jen says

      Sorry for the delay Jessica, just got home from an Alaskan cruse and was without internet! Is he allergic to sunflower seeds? I would try unsalted sunflower seeds and if that is not an option then skip them. Enjoy!

  5. Christi says

    I made this for my boyfriend and he absolutely loved it! The sundried tomato pesto was really flavorful he said. I’m vegan so I didn’t get to try the pesto. Would it work without the feta?

    • Jen says

      I’m so pleased it was a hit Christi, thank you! The feta adds a salty tang, but yes it would definitely work without it. I might add some additional vinegar to taste.

  6. 2pots2cook says

    Absolutely perfect summer lunch !

    • Jen says

      Agreed! Thank you so much!

  7. Darina says

    This looks so good, definitely giving it a try!

    • Jen says

      Thank you! You will love it!

  8. Debbie says

    Every recipe that I make of yours is delicious! This salad is fantastic! I added the tomatoes when serving as I was told many years ago that refrigerated tomatoes lose their flavor.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Debbie! I’m so happy you’re loving my recipes and that this pasta salad was another winner! Thanks for the tomato tip!

  9. Nick @ GreekBoston.com says

    This pasta salad contains all the traditional Greek flavors that everyone in my household loves! Since I enjoy Greek olives so much, I would probably put even more in my salad than what you have listed here.

    • Jen says

      Awesome! I’m excited for you to try it!

  10. Ann from AK says

    This dressing is freaking amazing! I’ve used it in couscous and rice. I’ve mixed it with mayonnaise and sour cream to make a great dip. Mayonnaise and this stuff served as a terrific condiment for submarine sandwiches. Mom now wants nothing else on roasted potatoes but this. I should make a huge batch and figure a means to can it.

    • Jen says

      Thanks Ann, I’m thrilled you love it so much! You have inspired me to try it on more food as well – I love the idea of roasted Greek Potato Salad with this dressing. Thanks for the inspiration and for taking the time to comment!

  11. Diane says

    finally tried your Greek Pasta salad, WOW is it every good and so easy to put together.

    • Jen says

      YAY! I’m thrilled you made and loved it as it’s one of my favs! Thanks Diane!

  12. Jenn says

    Oh, this would be so perfect for a light summer meal. It’s hot in Arizona. Do you think there is anything I could replace the cucumbers with. My husband, daughter and grandson are all allergic to cucumbers, melons, and pickles. I care for my 2 1/2 year old grandson 5 days a week and God is blessing us with another grandson in November.

    I’m always so careful about what is in my house. You can imagine my panic when I saw him sharing the dogs breakfast of kibble. Thank God there was nothing in it that was dangerous for him, but I’ve learned that nothing comes into the house even soaps and cleaning products without knowing what’s in everything.

    Thank you for your wonderful recipes, your inspiring story.

    • Jen says

      Sorry for the delay Jenn as I’ve been in Italy for two weeks. I’m don’t think there is an equal substitution for the cucumbers in the dressing – instead I would just leave them out. You will still get all the garlic/dill goodness. Enjoy!

  13. Meredith says

    Roasted almonds or whole, natural ones?

    • Jen says

      Great question! You can use either but I used whole, natural ones.

  14. andrea says

    can you substitute for tri color tortelini or is it just best with plain?

    • Jen says

      Tri color would be delicious!

  15. Elaine says

    Omg this is fantastic!!!!

    • Jen says

      Thanks Elaine, I’m so pleased you loved it!

5 Secrets to
30 Minute Meals

Tips, tricks & recipes to get dinner on the table fast!

FREE EMAIL BONUS