Healthy Mediterranean Pasta Salad

There’s nothing more refreshing and satisfying than a good pasta salad with fresh veggies and savory cheese. Personally, I could eat pasta salad all year long for lunch or dinner. But some people prefer to save this recipe for Summertime barbecues or dinner parties. Either way, it’s necessary to have a recipe like this healthy Mediterranean Pasta Salad on hand for when the time is right.

In short, this recipe is a medley of all things great: Pasta, veggies, spices, and herbs. It’s an easy-to-do meal or side dish that will impress the friends and family you invite to your table.

What’s more, this recipe is easily customizable and leaves room for creativity if the chef wants to add or take away certain ingredients based on preference.

Healthy Mediterranean pasta salad - Delicious recipe

Healthy Mediterranean Pasta Salad Recipe Highlights

This salad is exceptionally good if you happen to be following the Mediterranean diet plan, as it’s chalked full of healthy vegetables, olive oil, and pasta to help fill you up. 

The dressing is made from scratch, adding a ton of fresh flavors to the salad; store-bought dressing can be convenient; however, nothing beats the freshness of homemade. 

Add-ins are welcome. Clean out your pantry and fridge, or use what’s in season at the local market. Take the opportunity to get creative in the kitchen and customize your own version of a healthy Mediterranean pasta salad. 

You can make this delicious salad ahead of time and toss everything together the day before, making your life that much easier. 

After you have a bite of this pasta salad, you’ll want to make it over and over again. The best part is that it’s the perfect recipe for meal prep. Simply pack it up and take it along with you for a quick and healthy lunch on the go or for a refreshing midweek dinner.    

Healthy Mediterranean Pasta salad is naturally vegan. If you or your loved ones follow a vegan diet or looking for a dish for meatless Monday this plant-based salad is the recipe for you.

Healthy Mediterranean Pasta Salad Ingredients You’ll Need

Some of the basic ingredients that you might already have in your cupboard include pasta (this recipe calls for Fusilli pasta), extra virgin olive oil, sugar, and (white) balsamic vinegar.The variety of ingredients combine for a healthy, filling, and oh-so-tasty end result.

  • Red and yellow bell peppers: Not only do bell peppers add a rainbow of color to pasta salad they also add a nice crunch and a touch of sweetness. Green and orange bell peppers can also be used. 
  • Zucchini and eggplant: These are both classic Mediterranean vegetables that are sauteed in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper adding a nice smoky flavor to pasta salad.  
  • Cherry tomatoes: These tiny sweet, and tangy tomatoes pack a whole lot of punch to any salad. If cherry tomatoes aren’t available, use wedges of Roma, heirloom tomatoes, or vine-ripened tomatoes instead.  
  • Pitted Kalamata olives:  Briny Kalamata olives are one of the most famous olives in the Mediterranean. Any other olive can be used, such as green or black olives; they can also be left out if you’re not a fan of olives.  
  • Extra virgin olive oil: Choosing to use extra virgin olive oil gives you an oil that’s rich and buttery as well as being unrefined and flavorful. Other oils can be substituted, like regular olive oil, avocado oil, or grapeseed.     
  • Sea salt: Sea salt or kosher salt is a better quality of salt to use instead of table salt; if you only have table salt, this can be substituted using half the amount.  
  • Cracked Black Peppercorns: Freshly cracked black peppercorns lends boldness and a hint of spice to this dish. Substitute a pinch of ground pepper or leave it out if your spice cupboard isn’t stocked up with black pepper. 
  • Red onion and fresh garlic: Feel free to substitute the red onions with white onions or leave them out if dietary restrictions exist. 
  • Sugar: Sugar is added to the dressing to help balance out the flavors, adding a hint of sweetness to the salad. The sugar can be left out or substituted with honey, maple syrup, or sugar alternatives. 
  • White balsamic vinegar: Red wine vinegar, regular balsamic, or apple cider vinegar can be used as substitutions if needed.   
  • Rosemary and thyme: Fresh herbs are infused into the dressing creating an extraordinary aromatic flavor. If these herbs are only available dried, use one-third of the amount listed in the recipe, as dried herbs tend to be more concentrated and stronger than fresh herbs.        
  • Fusilli pasta: This shape of pasta not only makes your pasta salad visually appealing, it’s also an ideal, bite-sized pasta for easy eating. You can also use other bite-sized pasta such as penne, farfalle, macaroni, or rigatoni if you have some stocked up in your pantry. Most dried pastas are egg-free however; double check the ingredients, ensuring there are no eggs if you’re avoiding them. 
  • Fresh Basil: Finishing any salad with fresh herbs really helps elevate and bring your salads to a new level. Basil adds a ton of fragrance and a hint of peppery flavor in every bite. 

Add-ins Ideas

Pasta salad is one of those dishes that’s hard to mess up. As long as you’ve got some fresh ingredients and quality oil and vinegar–the rest is up to the chef. So, if there’s something else you’re craving that this recipe does not include–feel free to add your own ingredients. For example, this vegan recipe leaves out cheese. However, feta cheese is often a top pick for most pasta salad recipes.

Here’s a list of suggested items and amounts that could be mixed into your Mediterranean pasta salad: 

  • Chopped or Sliced Nuts: ½ cup (72g) of any varieties of nuts you prefer, such as almonds, walnuts, cashews, or pecans.  
  • Seeds: ¼ cup (33g) of either sunflower, pumpkin, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, or flax seeds
  • Fresh Herbs: Use a spring of freshly chopped basil, oregano, or dill tossed in with the pasta salad ingredients at the end. 
  • Cheese: Top your salad with ½ cup (45g) of grated or crumbled cheese such as feta, halloumi, goat cheese, or any other Mediterranean-style cheese. 
  • Protein: Toss in 1 cup (140g) cooked and diced chicken, ham, tofu, or shrimp or 1/4 cup (35g) chopped bacon, salami.

Healthy Mediterranean Pasta Salad Instructions

  1. Roast the peppers

    Preheat the oven to the broil setting. Brush the tops of the peppers with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and bake on a tray for about 10 minutes until slightly charred. Set the peppers aside, allowing them to cool slightly.

  2. Saute the eggplant and zucchini

    Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large frying pan set to medium heat on the stove top for 1 minute. Sauté the eggplant and zucchini for 2-3 minutes until the vegetables have softened. Once the vegetables are cooked, season with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper before transferring them onto a large plate lined with a paper towel to dry.

  3. Make the dressing

    In the same pan, fry up the onions and garlic–adding some sugar and white balsamic vinegar. Add the finely chopped thyme and rosemary, and cook on low for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, whisking in the olive oil; seasoning with salt and black pepper to taste before setting the dressing aside to cool.

  4. Cooking the pasta

    At this time, you’ll want to boil a pot of water and cook the pasta (al dente). Strain and cool the pasta to room temperature.

  5. Tossing the salad together

    Next, chop the peppers into bite-sized pieces and place all of your cooked veggies into a large bowl where you’ll be mixing your pasta salad. Add the tomatoes, olives, and pasta. Finally, season the pasta salad, add the dressing and fresh basil, and give it a big mix. There you have it: Health & Delicious Mediterranean Pasta Salad for any occasion!

Pasta Salad Tips

It’s hard to mess up pasta salad! So get creative and add your favorite ingredients that match your preferred diet.

Making your own olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette is the best way to avoid additives in pre-made salad dressings. 

Fresh tomatoes and al dente pasta are the key(s) to a good pasta salad!

Storing & Freezing Pasta Salad

Store: This completed pasta salad will do fine in the refrigerator for about 4-5 days. However, after that, it will start to get soggy. It’s also not recommended to freeze this meal. Pasta salad is meant to be enjoyed and finished right away. If you need to get rid of a large portion–here’s the reason you’ve been looking for a backyard BBQ!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can pasta salad be gluten-free?

For this recipe, the quick answer is, No. However, there are some gluten-free pasta alternatives (like red lentil pasta) that could work!

Is this recipe enough for my party?

For this recipe, the quick answer is, No. However, there are some gluten-free pasta alternatives (like red lentil pasta) that could work!

What else can I put in pasta salad?

For meat eaters, salami and/or ham is an easy addition to pasta salad.

More Recipes You’ll Love!

Try making your pasta salad alongside some of these dishes… BBQ items were the first on our minds:

Recipe Card 📖

Healthy Mediterranean pasta salad - Delicious recipe

Healthy Mediterranean Pasta Salad

4bfbc9e402357244c9447e3ee7748827?s=30&d=mm&r=gJennifer Dodd

This salad is a bit complex, but you can also make it well a day before. It tastes great fresh, of course, when it is still warm. It is guaranteed to be very popular at any barbecue or buffet.

Prep Time 15 mins

Cook Time 30 mins

Total Time 45 mins

Servings 8 Servings

Ingredients 

  • 1 medium red bell pepper cut in half, deseeded
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper cut in half, deseeded
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil, divided 
  • 1 small eggplant, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 small zucchini, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black peppercorns
  • 1 small red onion, peeled, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons (29 g) sugar
  • ¼ cup (60ml) white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 16 oz (454g) dried fusilli pasta
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 15 pitted Kalamata olives, cut in half
  • 15 fresh basil leaves, torn

Instructions 

  • Roast the peppersPreheat the oven to the broil setting. Brush the tops of the peppers with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and bake on a tray for about 10 minutes until slightly charred. Set the peppers aside allowing them to cool slightly.
  • Saute the eggplant and zucchini1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan set to medium heat. Sauté the eggplant and zucchini for 2-3 minutes until the vegetables have softened. Once the vegetables are cooked, season with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper before transferring them onto a large plate lined with a paper towel to dry.
  • Make the dressingUsing the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. When hot, saute the onions and garlic for 2 minutes. Add in the sugar and white balsamic vinegar. Add the finely chopped rosemary and thyme, and cook on low for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat whisking in the remaining olive oil; season with salt and black pepper to taste before setting the dressing aside to cool.
  • Cooking the pastaCook the pasta (al dente) following the box instructions. Strain and cool the pasta to room temperature.
  • Assemble the saladChop the peppers into bite-sized pieces and place all of your cooked veggies into a large bowl where you’ll be mixing your pasta salad. Add the tomatoes, olives, and cooked pasta. Finally, add the dressing. Toss and taste, if necessary add more salt and pepper to your liking. Add the fresh basil and give it a big mix. Serve.
 
Store: This completed pasta salad will do fine in the refrigerator for about 4-5 days. However, after that, it will start to get soggy. It’s also not recommended to freeze this meal. Pasta salad is meant to be enjoyed and finished right away. 

Add-ins Ideas: 

  • Chopped or Sliced Nuts: ½ cup (72g) of any varieties of nuts you prefer, such as almonds, walnuts, cashews, or pecans.  
  • Seeds: ¼ cup (33g) of either sunflower, pumpkin, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, or flax seeds
  • Fresh Herbs: Use a spring of freshly chopped basil, oregano, or dill tossed in with the pasta salad ingredients at the end. 
  • Cheese: Top your salad with ½ cup (45g) of grated or crumbled cheese such as feta, halloumi, goat cheese, or any other Mediterranean-style cheese. 
  • Protein: Toss in 1 cup (140g) cooked and diced chicken, ham, tofu, or shrimp or 1/4 cup (35g) chopped bacon, salami.

 
If you’re making this recipe, please read the whole post content to get lots of tips, tricks, variations, and frequently asked questions.

 
 Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!
 
Please note that nutritional information is a rough estimate, and it can vary depending on the products used.
 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 347kcalCarbohydrates: 57gProtein: 10gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gSodium: 280mgPotassium: 560mgFiber: 5gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 854IUVitamin C: 66mgCalcium: 46mgIron: 2mg

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Course Salad

Cuisine European Mediterranean

Calories 347

Keyword pasta roasted summer Vegan vegetarian



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