- Food: Pasta Salad
- Writer: Lizzie Green
- Content-Type: Food Blog
Today’s recipe is a spaghetti pasta salad that’s excellent for a picnic!
A delicious pasta salad is a must-have for any barbecue, and this is the one I’ll be serving all summer. It comes together quickly, is packed with fresh ingredients, and has a lot of flavors.
I went out of my way to make sure that all of this week’s dishes are not only simple but also easy to prepare ahead of time… because I completely get that you would rather be outside with your pals than fiddling with your salad.
Note: If you’re going to make this ahead of time, add in some whole basil leaves right before serving to make the salad look even more appealing.
Ingredients for Pasta Salad
I’ve prepared a lot of pasta salads in the past (see here and here), but I realized I didn’t have an excellent basic pasta salad with vinaigrette dressing on the site.
This recipe is simple and fresh, with juicy cherry tomatoes, tangy feta cheese, a hefty handful of arugula, chickpeas for protein, pine nuts and small cucumbers for crunch, and plenty of fresh parsley and basil tossed in with the pasta.
The dressing is simple to make: it’s a zesty combination of olive oil, lemon, garlic, Dijon, herbs, and seasonings – I like to use herbes de Provence, but Italian seasoning would work just as well.
How to Make It?
This recipe is simple to prepare. Simply follow these easy steps:
- In a big pot of salted boiling water, cook your pasta. Drain it and mix it with olive oil before setting it aside to cool.
- Cherry tomatoes and cucumbers should be chopped, parsley should be minced, and feta should be crumbled.
- To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl.
- And combine everything in a large mixing dish! Season with salt and pepper to taste, then dig in.
Pasta Salad Suggestions
- Cook your spaghetti for a few minutes longer than usual. It should be slightly past al dente (but not mushy) in order for the pasta to stay soft as it cools. For spaghetti salad, I find that the higher time range provided on the box directions is usually just about appropriate.
- Allow for thorough cooling before combining with the remaining ingredients. If the pasta is still warm, it will begin to cook and wilt the vegetables. Because no one likes warm cucumber, make sure you use cold pasta in this recipe.
- Keep a few herbs aside for garnish! If you want to create this pasta salad ahead of time, keep some of the herbs and pine nuts for garnish. The pine nuts will retain their crunch, and the herbs will be exceptionally fresh, attractive, and tasty.
- Taste and adjust as needed. This salad, like other salad recipes, is extremely adaptable, so taste it and alter it to your desire before serving. If you want a tangier salad, add extra lemon, toss in more greens if you’re crazy about the veggies, and salt to taste.
Variations on Pasta Salad Recipe
This pasta salad is delicious on its own, but feel free to tweak it to suit your preferences or the items you have on hand. Here are a couple of ideas:
- Veganize it! Instead of feta, use olives or sun-dried tomatoes.
- Make it gluten-free by using gluten-free flour. In place of regular noodles, use gluten-free pasta or quinoa.
- Go with the Greeks. Add kalamata or black olives and a half cup of finely sliced red onion to make this a Greek pasta salad.
- Make a Caprese salad. Instead of feta, use halved small mozzarella balls.
- Attempt a different herb. In this salad, fresh oregano would be nice in place of the mint, and thyme would also be delicious.
- If you prefer a larger pasta-to-vegetable ratio, replace the arugula with spinach or leave it out entirely.
- For added crunch, toast your chickpeas.
|Time to Prepare: 12 minutes
Cooking: 10 minutes
Time allotted: 22 minutes
Serving: 6 people
You’re going to adore this simple pasta salad dish! It’s a terrific dish to prepare ahead of time; if you’re taking it to a picnic, prepare it up to a day ahead of time.
- 3 cups uncooked fusilli pasta
- 2 heaping cups of halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 cups arugula
- 1 cup Persian cucumbers, sliced into thin half-moons
- 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
- A big saucepan of salted water should be brought to a boil. Cook the pasta until it is a little past al dente, as directed on the packet.
- Make the dressing in the meantime. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, herbes de Provence, red pepper flakes, and salt in a small mixing bowl. (Note: the dressing has a strong flavor at first, but it will soften once it has coated all of the pasta salad ingredients.)
- Drain the pasta and mix it with a little olive oil (to keep it from sticking together) before allowing it to cool to room temperature. Combine the tomatoes, chickpeas, arugula, cucumbers, feta cheese, basil, parsley, mint, and pine nuts in a large mixing dish. Toss the salad in the dressing to coat it. Serve immediately with additional lemon, salt, pepper, and/or a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.