This Mediterranean Pasta Salad recipe combines multiple distinct flavors into one salad with a unique taste. This is a robust salad that works equally well as a side dish or main course.
Mediterranean Pasta Salad
This salad packs a lot of interesting flavors into each bite. From the peppery taste of fresh arugula to the salty appeal of Kalamata olives, preserved lemons and feta cheese, there is nothing bland or boring about this dish. Yet, its strong flavors aren’t overwhelming because they are tempered by the satisfying addition of penne pasta and fresh herbs. This robust salad has enough presence to serve as a light, yet satisfying, main course – or it can act as the perfect complement to more neutral dishes, like grilled chicken breast or a mild white fish.
Tip – You can use fresh or preserved lemons to make this recipe. I recommend trying the preserved lemons because they add more intense flavor. You can either buy a container of preserved lemons or easily make your own with Himalayan salt blocks. A word of caution, however, if you use preserved lemons, taste before adding additional salt.
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- 1 pound penne pasta, cooked according to the package instructions and cooled
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced.
- 1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, washed and chopped, seeds and excess liquid removed
- 12-15 large fresh basil leaves, washed, dried and cut into thin strips
- 2 tsp fresh oregano, stems removed and chopped
½ cup Kalamata olives
- ¼ red onion, thinly sliced
- ½ cup fresh or preserved organic lemon, chopped into small chunks with rinds
- 2 cups fresh arugula
- 2 tbsp Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
- 3 oz. block feta cheese, cut into equal sized chunks
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- salt and pepper, to taste
To make the vinaigrette, place the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and mustard into a small bowl and whisk together until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Add the olive oil and garlic to a cold pan and set the heat to medium high. Sauté for approximately 2 minutes before adding in the chopped tomato. Cook for 3 minutes or until the tomato softens. Remove from heat.
Place the cooked tomato and garlic mixture with the basil, oregano, olives, red onion and preserved lemons into a large mixing bowl and combine. Add the cooked pasta, arugula and both types of cheese. Finally, add the vinaigrette and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.