Easy Pasta Salad

This fresh, easy pasta salad recipe comes together in under 30 minutes! Tossed in a tangy vinaigrette & filled with veggies, it's a sure cookout hit.

Best Pasta Salad in a serving dish

Today’s recipe is a picnic-perfect pasta salad! Every cookout needs a great pasta salad, and this is the one that I’ll be making all summer long. It comes together in no time, it’s full of fresh ingredients, and it packs a flavorful punch.

I took extra care to make sure that all of this week’s recipes are not just easy, but also easy to make in advance… because I totally get that you don’t want to be futzing with your salad when you could be spending time outside with your friends.

Note: if you do decide to make this in advance, toss on some whole basil leaves before serving to make your salad instantly prettier.

Easy pasta salad recipe ingredients

Pasta Salad Ingredients

I’ve made many pasta salads before (see here and here), but I realized that I didn’t have a really good classic pasta salad with a vinaigrette dressing on the site. This recipe is easy and fresh – along with the pasta, I toss in juicy cherry tomatoes, tangy feta cheese, a generous handful of arugula, chickpeas for protein, pine nuts & little cucumbers for crunch, and lots of fresh parsley and basil.

The dressing is easy to make: it’s a zesty mix of olive oil, lemon, garlic, Dijon, herbs & seasonings  – I like to use herbes de Provence but Italian seasoning would be equally good in its place.

Easy pasta salad recipe ingredients

How to Make Pasta Salad

Making this recipe is a breeze! Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Cook your pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. Drain it, toss it with some olive oil, and set it aside to cool.
  2. Chop your cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, mince the parsley, and crumble the feta.
  3. Whisk together the dressing ingredients.
  4. And toss everything together in a big bowl! Season to taste and dig in.

How to make pasta salad

My Best Pasta Salad Tips

  • Cook your pasta a little longer than normal. It should be just a tad past al dente (but not mushy) so that the pasta stays soft when it cools. I find that the higher time range listed on box instructions is usually just about right for pasta salad.
  • Let your pasta cool completely before tossing it with the other ingredients. If it’s still warm, the hot pasta will start to cook and wilt the veggies. No one’s a fan of warm cucumber, so make sure you’re tossing cold pasta into this dish.
  • Save some herbs for garnish! This pasta salad recipe is a great one to make ahead, but if you do, save some of the herbs and pine nuts for garnish. The pine nuts will keep their crunchy texture and the herbs will be extra fresh, pretty, and flavorful.
  • Taste and adjust. Like most salad recipes, this one is super flexible, so be sure to taste and adjust it to your liking before serving. Add more lemon if you prefer a tangier salad, toss in more greens if you’re all about the veggies, and always, always salt to taste.

Easy Pasta Salad Recipe

Easy Pasta Salad Recipe Variations

This pasta salad is fantastic as-is, but feel free to change it up to match your tastes or the ingredients in your pantry. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Make it vegan! Use olives or sun dried tomatoes in place of the feta.
  • Make it gluten-free! Use gluten-free pasta or quinoa in place of traditional noodles.
  • Go Greek. To make this recipe more of a Greek pasta salad, add kalamata or black olives and a half cup of thinly sliced red onion.
  • Try a caprese combo. Use halved mini mozzarella balls in place of the feta.
  • Try another herb. Fresh oregano would be lovely in place of the mint in this salad, and thyme would also be a great addition.
  • Swap out the arugula for spinach, or leave it out altogether if you prefer a higher pasta: veggie ratio.
  • Or roast your chickpeas for extra crunch.

Easy Pasta Salad Recipe

If you love this pasta salad recipe…

Try this broccoli salad, this watermelon salad, this couscous salad, or this summer slaw next!

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

rate this recipe:
4.97 from 183 votes
Prep Time: 12 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 22 mins
Serves 6
You'll love this easy pasta salad recipe! It's a great one to make ahead - if you're bringing it to a picnic, prep it up to a day in advance.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups uncooked fusilli pasta
  • 2 heaping cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1 cup Persian cucumbers, sliced into thin half moons
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 cup basil leaves, torn
  • ½ cup minced parsley
  • ½ cup chopped mint
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts

Dressing

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence, or dried Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions, or until slightly past al dente.
  • Meanwhile, make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, herbes de Provence, red pepper flakes, and salt. (Note: the dressing will have a strong flavor, it’ll mellow once it coats all of the pasta salad ingredients).
  • Drain the pasta, toss it with a little olive oil (so that it doesn’t stick together) and let it cool to room temp. Transfer to a large bowl with the tomatoes, chickpeas, arugula, cucumbers, feta cheese, basil, parsley, mint, and pine nuts. Pour the dressing and toss to coat. Season to taste with more lemon, salt, pepper, and/or a drizzle of olive oil, if desired, and serve.

 

93 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Ashley
    09.21.2021

    5 stars
    I LOVE this salad! Even my husband (who doesn’t get excited about salad for dinner) said this was amazing!

  2. Patti
    09.04.2021

    I’m making this tonight. You mention that it’s a vinaigrette dressing but there’s no vinegar listed in the ingredients. Is it correct as written without vinegar?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.05.2021

      Hi Patti, technically you are right. Occasionally we refer to tangy dressings as vinaigrettes even though we just use lemon as the acidic component. The written recipe is correct!

    • Olivia
      09.13.2021

      Lemon is used in place of the vinegar. The dressing is superb!

  3. Suzanne
    09.03.2021

    5 stars
    This pasta salad is absolutely scrumptious! Everyone loved it. It is definitely worth the effort, but it took me way longer than 22 minutes to prepare it.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.04.2021

      Hi Suzanne, thank you for the feedback! I’m so glad it was worth the effort.

  4. Ciara
    09.01.2021

    Your salad sounds delicious. How many days would it last in the fridge. Thank you

  5. Deborah
    08.24.2021

    5 stars
    Great salad! Filling, delicious, and healthy.

  6. S.ripley
    08.20.2021

    5 stars
    Fabulous salad, and healthy, and a meal!
    It is for sure not 15 minute prepare salad but
    Worth every minute spent!!
    I did add different salad greens to the arugula for a milder taste. Love it!

    • Sandi Polasek
      09.04.2021

      What did you use instead of arugula ?

  7. Camille Rancourt
    08.20.2021

    5 stars
    Delicious, easy and fresh!

  8. Jeanne
    08.14.2021

    5 stars
    This turned out really tasty! I didn’t have cucumbers on hand, and I forgot the mustard. But it is still very good!

  9. Deborah
    08.12.2021

    One of the best salad recipes I have ever made. I think I’ve made it six times in the past two months.

  10. Gina Hughes
    08.11.2021

    5 stars
    It was so delicious 😋
    Can’t wait to make it again !

  11. Lois Demers
    08.08.2021

    5 stars
    Okay, I just made this to take to a bbq later this afternoon. I haven’t added the arugula or basil (will also add fresh oregano) yet, but I want to take a big bowl and spoon and go to town! So good! I used orzo, I added a little lemon zest (when life gives you lemons…) I used boconccini cheese, and added kalamata olives. I made a little more dressing than called for, and I don’t regret it. Will definitely make again! Don’t be put off by the initial strong taste of the dressing, the salad can take it!

  12. Jen
    07.23.2021

    Can this be made a day prior to an event or should it be made the day of?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.23.2021

      Hi Jen, it can – I’d save the herbs and arugula until you’re ready to serve.

  13. Claire
    07.20.2021

    1 star
    Doesn’t have taste at all. Had to add a multitude of my own spices

    • Brandon
      08.04.2021

      Thank goodness you’re clearly in the minority!

  14. Sacha
    07.11.2021

    Made my own rendition by adding sweetcorn and slightly cooking the garlic tk reduce the bitterness, but followed the recipe of the dressing to the T. Stunning salad!

  15. Maunone Tanner
    07.10.2021

    5 stars
    Made this for a family cookout today. I received tons of compliments and requests for the recipe. Used mozzarella instead of feta and cashews instead of pine nuts because of a variety of guests. Very good pasta salad!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.11.2021

      I’m so glad everyone loved it!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.