Healthy, Recipes, Side Dishes

Mediterranean Pasta Salad Side Dish

Mediterranean Pasta Salad makes an excellent side dish or can also be a main dish for a lighter meal. I love using this for meal prepping!

Mediterranean Pasta Salad makes an excellent side dish or can also be a main dish for a lighter meal. I love using this for meal prepping!

Mediterranean Pasta – Fast, Healthy, & Tasty!

During the warmer summer months, I enjoy dishes that I can make without heating up the kitchen by using the oven. The only cooking required is the pasta. With the variety of flavors, this is a dish that can easily hold its own as a main dish, too.

As with many other pasta recipes, you can use any shape you like. I have also used whole wheat pasta for this particular dish and it was just as tasty. I chose the extra virgin olive oil for this recipe because it creates the distinctive flavor of a Mediterranean dish and keeps it heart-healthy.

One of my favorite aspects of Mediterranean dishes is the use of fresh ingredients. It’s important not to skimp on this! When creating the lemon vinaigrette, do not use bottled juice. I promise you, the fresh lemon juice will make a tremendous difference!

Another key ingredient to use fresh in this recipe is the Parmesan cheese. It’s tempting to grab the jar of dried, grated cheese we sprinkle on spaghetti dishes, but DON’T! Freshly-grated cheese adds incredible flavor.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad makes an excellent side dish or can also be a main dish for a lighter meal. I love using this for meal prepping!

Mediterranean Pasta Ingredients:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • White balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Fresh lemon zest
  • Garlic clove
  • Dijon mustard
  • Honey
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Penne pasta
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Fresh arugula
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Kalamata olives
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Feta cheese
Mediterranean Pasta Salad makes an excellent side dish or can also be a main dish for a lighter meal. I love using this for meal prepping!

How to Make Mediterranean Pasta:

Prepare the pasta according to package directions until just al dente. Drain, rinse, and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the vinaigrette by combining all ingredients in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and shake vigorously until emulsified. Set aside. (Or prepare in advance and store in the refrigerator until ready to use).

Add olive oil and garlic to a skillet set over medium heat. Sauté for approximately 1-2 minutes, or just until the garlic develops some color.

Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or just until the tomatoes are warmed through. Remove from heat and stir in the fresh arugula. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the warm tomato and arugula mixture with the fresh basil and Kalamata olives. Add the warm cooked penne pasta and both types of cheese. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste, and drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the lemon vinaigrette. Toss to combine.

Transfer the pasta salad to a large serving bowl and garnish with some fresh arugula, sprigs of basil, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately with the remaining vinaigrette on the side. Enjoy!

Mediterranean Pasta Salad makes an excellent side dish or can also be a main dish for a lighter meal. I love using this for meal prepping!
Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Yield: 6 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 27 minutes

Mediterranean Pasta Salad makes an excellent side dish or can also be a main dish for a lighter meal. I love using this for meal prepping!

Ingredients

Lemon Vinaigrette Ingredients:

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 Tablespoons honey
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Remaining Ingredients:

  • 1 - 16 oz. box of penne pasta
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups fresh arugula
  • 12-15 large fresh basil leaves, sliced thin
  • ⅓ cup Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated 
  • 3 oz. Feta cheese, roughly chopped

Garnish:

  • additional arugula leaves 
  • sprigs of fresh basil
  • grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

Prepare the pasta according to package directions until just al dente. Drain, rinse, and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the vinaigrette by combining all ingredients in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and shake vigorously until emulsified. Set aside. (Or prepare in advance and store in the refrigerator until ready to use).

Add olive oil and garlic to a skillet set over medium heat. Sauté for approximately 1-2 minutes, or just until the garlic develops some color.

Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or just until the tomatoes are warmed through. Remove from heat and stir in the fresh arugula. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the warm tomato and arugula mixture with the fresh basil and Kalamata olives. Add the warm cooked penne pasta and both types of cheese. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste, and drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the lemon vinaigrette. Toss to combine.

Transfer the pasta salad to a large serving bowl and garnish with some fresh arugula, sprigs of basil, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately with the remaining vinaigrette on the side. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 451Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 363mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 3gSugar: 14gProtein: 9g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 7/5/2021

MORE Mediterranean Dishes:

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Mediterranean Pasta Salad makes an excellent side dish or can also be a main dish for a lighter meal. I love using this for meal prepping!

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