This gorgeous and colorful Mediterranean Pasta Salad is always welcome at the picnic. Layers of Mediterranean vegetables are tossed with pasta and a sun-dried tomato-infused vinaigrette, giving you a perfect summer side dish in less than 30 minutes!
Some call it summertime, some call it picnic season. I just happen to call it pasta salad season!
The hot summer sun and great weather always mean it’s time for veggie-loaded and well-dressed pasta salads, like this Mediterranean Pasta Salad. You’ll find all of the Mediterranean favorites here: cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, olives, feta cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes. One bite and you’re practically transported to the Amalfi Coast!
The vegetables and pasta are tossed together in a simple, sun-dried tomato-infused vinaigrette to really amp up the flavor. In just 30 minutes, you’ll have a potluck-ready side dish or colorful option for meal prep. Pair it with my Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Salad and you’ll really feel like you’re on vacation!
- It’s naturally vegetarian and easy to make gluten free or vegan.
- No mayo, no problem. This easy pasta salad is perfect for outdoor picnics, potlucks, and barbecues.
- It takes 30 minutes from start to finish and lasts all week in the refrigerator.
- Pasta - Textured small noodles will scoop up the dressing with ease. I like bowtie pasta, but any other short pasta noodle will work (like fusilli, farfalle, rotini, penne, etc.).
- Mediterranean vegetables - You’ll always find red onion, cucumber, and grape tomatoes in Mediterranean dishes, like this quinoa bowl and chickpea tuna salad. All three give the Mediterranean pasta salad recipe a ton of freshness and vibrancy that’s true to the region.
- Sun-dried tomatoes - I highly recommend using sun-dried tomatoes in oil because the oil is needed in the pasta salad dressing. Plain sun-dried tomatoes will work in a pinch.
- Olives - Feel free to use a mixture of olives (black olives, kalamata olives, or green olives) or just one kind.
- Feta - This crumbly and briny cheese is a staple in Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. If you don’t have feta at home, you can use halloumi, sharp cheddar, parmesan, or fresh mozzarella instead.
- Pasta salad dressing - The dressing is light, simple, and easy to make. All you need is olive oil, lemon juice, sun-dried tomato oil, and parsley.
Step 1: Cook the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain the water once the noodles are al dente and transfer them to a large bowl. Leave it to cool while you prepare the salad vegetables.
Step 2: Combine the pasta and vegetables. Add the cucumber, sun-dried tomatoes, grape tomatoes, olives, onion, and feta cheese to the bowl with the cooled pasta and stir to combine.
Step 3: Make the dressing. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, sun-dried tomato oil, parsley, salt, and pepper together. Drizzle the finished dressing over the pasta and veggies, then toss to combine.
Step 4: Chill and serve. Cover the bowl with a lid and keep it in the refrigerator until it’s time to serve. Enjoy!
Tips and FAQs
- The pasta should still be tender and have a slight chew (al dente) by the time it’s finished cooking. Fully cooked or soft pasta will absorb the dressing and then turn to mush.
- Give the salad a nutritional boost by stirring in leafy greens like spicy arugula, baby spinach leaves, or kale.
- Make it meaty by tossing in thin strips of salami, pepperoni, or prosciutto.
- Red onion has a sharp flavor when served raw. To tone it down, soak the onion slices in cool water for 10 minutes before using them in the salad.
Can pasta salad be made ahead of time?
Making pasta salad ahead of time is highly recommended! Once it’s ready, cover the bowl with a lid and let it chill in the fridge for 1 hour or overnight. This time gives all of the flavors time to mingle, helping each bite taste its best.
Can it be made dairy free and vegan?
Sure! For a non-dairy version, simply omit the feta cheese and load up on the veggies. Artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, roasted red pepper, and chickpeas are all great add-in options. You could also add pine nuts for some crunch and replace the feta with your favorite soft and crumbly vegan cheese.
Is it gluten free?
It’s easy to make this pasta salad gluten free by swapping the regular pasta for your favorite gluten free pasta.
Can you use storebought dressing?
While I encourage you to make the dressing from scratch, you can use a storebought zesty Italian dressing, Greek vinaigrette, or red wine vinaigrette instead.
What goes well with Mediterranean pasta salad?
Make it a Mediterranean-inspired feast and serve this pasta salad alongside a fried halloumi lentil salad, stuffed zucchini boats, feta harissa roasted carrots, a Mediterranean hummus bowl, baked cod, and more.
Refrigerator: Keep the pasta salad in an airtight container in the fridge. It should stay fresh for up to 5 days. The pasta will absorb the dressing as it sits, so feel free to make a little extra to stir in before serving the leftovers.
More summer salad recipes
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Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- 1 lb. your favorite pasta
- 1 ½ cups cucumber sliced
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes julienne cut; see notes
- 1 cup grape tomatoes sliced
- ½ cup kalamata olives
- ½ cup red onion sliced
- ¼ cup feta cheese
for the dressing:
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon sun-dried tomato oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
- Salt and pepper
- Cook pasta as you normally would. While the pasta cooks, slice the veggies.
- Once pasta is done, drain it and place it in a large bowl. Then, add the cucumber, tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, onion, feta cheese, and stir to combine.
- Next, make the dressing: whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, sun-dried tomato oil, parsley, salt, and pepper together. Drizzle the dressing over the pasta and use tongs to toss everything together. Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Enjoy!
UPDATE NOTE: This post was originally published in July 2019. It was updated with new text and photos in May 2022.