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.
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.
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.
How to Make Pasta Salad
Making this recipe is a breeze! Just follow these simple steps:
- 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.
- Chop your cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, mince the parsley, and crumble the feta.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients.
- And toss everything together in a big bowl! Season to taste and dig in.
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 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.
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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
2nd time making this today. Made a couple of adjustments and it is delicious! Ended up with 10 oz of pasta, so I made one and a half times the dressing. First time I used Italian seasoning since it was on hand. This time. I purchased the Herbs de Provenxe. Definitely upped it a notch!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it with the Herbs de Provence!
We love this recipe! I make it more SALAD by using an entire 6oz container of arugula! We prefer cannellini beans to chick peas, and we’ve also substituted goat cheese for feta – both cheeses are great! It’s a go-to summer dish in our house!
I’m so glad you’ve been loving it!
i made this recipe for my kids and their kids and they loved it! Fresh, crunchy and the dressing is a keeper. I have been looking for a Greek salad dressing for a while. For me this one is perfect, I love fresh lemon .
I’m so glad everyone loved it!
This recipe was a huge hit at our 1st potluck with our HOA. I’m not a big fan of mint or pepper flakes, so left those out. Just made it for a gathering tonight. I have some fabulous Lemon Olive Oil that I drizzled on top as a finisher (used regular in the salad). Really fabulous and healthy! Thank You!
Absolutely LOVE this recipe! I made a double batch on Sunday and my daughter takes it to school during the week. My only complaint is that it takes some serious time to prepare, but the end result is worth it. I substituted canned garbanzo beans for the fresh chickpeas. I also added chopped dry salami. Highly recommend you try this one
Hi Katie, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Very tasty salad. Worked a treat at an outdoor party as it was prepared well in advance 🙂
I’m so glad it was a hit!
Hello! I’d like to make this ahead of time and am wondering how long it can last int he fridge? Thanks.
This was an amazing dish that has endless possibilities for changing up veggies. We LOVED the dressing and will likely keep a batch on hand for other salads. Great recipe
Hi Sandy, I’m so glad you loved it so much!
I had a ton of basil, mint & parsley in my garden so decided to make this recipe. SO good! Made it exactly as listed. This is such a great summer salad for a hot day. Easy and quick preparation too.
I’m so glad you loved it!
How many grams of pasta (approx.) is 3 cups uncooked?
Hi Melissa, about 8 ounces.
This was such a great addition to a summer barbecue last weekend. So fresh and everyone loved it!
I’m so glad it was a hit!
Made this yesterday for a crowd. It was so well received, no leftovers. Only change was adding a bit of diced red onion and Kalamata olives. So good!
yum! I’m glad it was a hit!
I am a looking for a healthy diet plan so this salad is perfect! Can you are the nutritional values?
I imported it quickly into a planner without checking and it came out about 380 per portion as listed above. Very nice as well!
This salad was sooooo good! It was a huge hit at our little league picnic tonight!
I’m so happy to hear!
So good! We substituted spinach for arugula and it was delicious. A tasty spin on our normal pasta salad!
I’m so glad you loved it!
Delicious! I swapped in kale because I ran out of arugula and it was just lovely 🙂
I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Simple and delicious! I love the addition of all the herbs. Tastes very fresh, perfect for weekday lunches. Will definitely make this recipe again!
I’m so glad you enjoyed all the herbs 🙂
Super easy to make and delicious!! Love cooking along with this cooking club.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Basil? Parsley? And Mint? Oh my!! I had my doubts but this salad was so fragrant, I wondered if it needed the dressing, but decided not to alter the instructions.
As I sit her enjoying a bowl at the office, thankful I made plenty for leftovers.
Genius flavor combinations. Thank you.
I’m glad you enjoyed all of the herbs!
The mediterranean pasta salad, was simple, refreshing and perfect for these hot summer days. We doubled the dressing and added fresh peppers and more herbs. to the pasta. Love it! Thank you.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it!