I reach for Mediterranean pasta salad when I’m just done, and I need pasta recipes that can whisk me away. One bite of the savory olives, the creamy cheese, and the fragrant herbs, and I’m inhaling salty air on a rocky coastline, looking out across teal-blue waters.
If you, like me, can’t afford a monthly getaway, pasta salad recipes is an affordable alternative. Kick back in a comfy chair and let these Mediterranean ingredients build a moment of escape in your chaotic schedule.
Got your passports handy? It’s time to go on vacation!
It’s quick, it’s simple, and it’ll transport you to a faraway place of flavor and zest — Mediterranean Pasta Salad does it all!
- Quick prep and cook time
- Party pleasing favorite
- Vacation in a bowl!
- Luxurious ingredients
I take my escapism food very seriously. If I’m making a pasta salad, it’s usually for a party, and a party inevitably brings chaos. But with Mediterranean pasta salad recipe, I know I’ll get a breather in the madness — even if only for a bite!
So trust me when I say that I have laid out every step in this recipe as best I can to make sure you, too, get that well-deserved bite-break.
Zest that lemon: One of my favorite time- and money-saving tips for citrus zest is to make and store a bunch of it ahead of time. Doing so requires just a paring knife, a sheet pan, and a food processor! Buy a big ol’ bag of citrus (in this case, lemons), cut off the peels (just the yellow bits — not the bitter white skin underneath), arrange on your baking sheet, cook at 200 degrees until dry (about 40 minutes), process until powder, and store in an airtight container for up to four months!
Anchovies: Not a fan of the fishy stuff? I got you covered — you can easily swap out anchovy paste for a familiar sauce that still packs that salty-vinegar punch, like Worcestershire sauce, or something vegan-friendly, like capers.
Cheese, please! This recipe calls for parmesan and mozzarella, two staple kinds of cheese from the Mediterranean region, particularly Italy. But if you want to take things up a notch on the Grecian side, go for feta, or get really crazy and try something like manouri!
Al dente perfection: Pasta salad dishes always turn out their best when the noodles are actually undercooked, even before al dente. Since you want to let the noodles sit in the sauce and soak up all that flavor, you want their structure to be a bit firmer, so they can withstand that time. Otherwise, you’ll get mushy pasta.
Process it: Whisking is great, but if I have the time, there’s just something about the food processor that really gets the best flavor out of sauces. Even a blender works too! Put all your sauce ingredients in and puree them up. Deliciousness served!
Cooldown! Need that pasta cooled off, like, now? Spread your cooked noodles on a greased sheet tray. This will allow the noodles more surface area to room temperature air, which will cool them down much faster.
Know you’ll need a Mediterranean burst tomorrow? Read on for how best to store your pasta salad escape!
Can You Freeze This?
There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with freezing pasta salad, I just personally don’t like to. The noodles, the cheese — they don’t do well in the freezer’s low temps. Not that your thawed pasta salad would be inedible, it just wouldn’t have its original texture.
If you must freeze your Mediterranean Pasta Salad, you’ll definitely want to undercook your pasta so they have as much structure as possible. Make sure you have a tight seal on your container to keep any icky freezer burn out. You can also opt to withhold the dressing and cheese from the pasta salad you plan to freeze, and only add those ingredients after you thaw and plan to eat.
How Long Can You Keep This?
You can store Mediterranean Pasta Salad in the fridge, sealed in an airtight container, for up to four days.
But, if you had this dish sitting out for any amount of time at a party, I’d toss any leftovers, just to be safe. With a dish that includes cheese, I tend to err on the side of overly cautious when it comes to party servings. Who knows what those dairy products got up to when you weren’t looking!
Just can’t get enough pasta salad? Don’t worry, I can’t either. The only cure is to make MORE! PASTA! SALAD!
Can I Make This With Tortellini?
I’d add tortellini to everything if I could. Tortellini Grilled Cheese. Tortellini Steak. Tortellini Pancakes.
Okay, maybe it’s best to just stick to basics, like tortellini pasta salad. In all seriousness, tortellini salad is absolutely delicious if you’re looking for a way to add a punch of heartiness to your Grecian getaway bite.
Can I Mix Seafood To This Recipe?
You’re on an island, basking in the salt and sun — so, of course, you can add seafood to this Mediterranean vacation dish! Shrimp pasta salad would be my go-to choice. Nothing says seaside retreat like boiled or sautéed shrimp.
Another favorite is tuna pasta salad. Canned or freshly seared, tuna will amp up your Mediterranean pasta salad recipe in all the best ways!
Is Bacon A Good Addition To This Salad?
The better question: Is Bacon Ever A Bad Addition To Salad? The answer: NO.
Mediterranean pasta salad recipe already has cheese and tomatoes, so all you need to do is chop up some bacon and romaine, and you’ve got BLT Pasta Salad!
Or take a rich, creamy route with Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad. I’ve never met a party I couldn’t jazz up with that crowd-pleasing favorite!
What Other Sauces Can I Try?
When I’m in a pinch, I go for Pasta Salad With Italian Dressing. It’s as easy as it sounds — just grab one of those bottles of Italian dressing at the store and shake some on noodles and fillings. Instant yum!
Pesto pasta salad is another quick, scrumptious dish. You can find storebought pesto in the spaghetti sauce aisle. Pour some on noodles and fillings, chill, and get ready for party-goer praise!
What Other Mediterranean Salads Can I Try?
This Mediterranean pasta salad recipe is more of a general combination of that regions’ best flavor profiles. But if you want to get specific, you can try Greek pasta salad or Italian pasta salad, and go full-on vacation destination!
Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 1 tablespoon garlic
- 1/4 cup shallots finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 2/3 cups olive oil
- 1 pound box penne pasta
- 1 large red bell pepper chopped
- 1 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil rinsed and drained
- 1 cup pitted black olives drained
- 1 cup pitted Italian green olives drained
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese shredded
- 2 (8-ounce containers) fresh mozzarella ball in the water drained and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 (10-ounce container) grape tomatoes cut in half
- 1 cup fresh basil julienned
- Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
- Cook pasta according to package directions and drain well.
- While pasta is still warm, toss it in the mixing bowl with dressing. Allow pasta to cool.
- When pasta has cooled to room temperature, stir in the next 8 ingredients (everything but the basil) and toss. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight.
- When ready to serve, add fresh basil and toss. Adjust seasoning and add olive oil, if needed. Serve
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Who knew pasta salad could be your own personal moment of sanity? If you’re looking for other tasty breaks, try out these faves:
Mediterranean pasta salad recipe lets me get away without ever needing to leave my kitchen, and it won’t break my bank account like an actual flight would. The next time you need to bring a dish to a party or are just looking for a summery side, go for this beachy treat. No sunscreen needed!
Where did you take your Mediterranean pasta salad? Or, should I say, where did your Mediterranean pasta salad recipe take you? Let me know in the comments!