This Mediterranean Pasta Salad recipe is light and fresh, it’s loaded with summer’s favourite produce, olives, capers, and creamy feta cheese. Tossed in a Greek-style dressing, it combines all the flavours of the Mediterranean in a single bowl. It’s the perfect make-ahead pasta salad for summer BBQs, picnics or an easy dinner!
This Mediterranean pasta salad is reminiscent of a traditional Greek salad, with the exception that rather than cucumber, it’s made with lighted sautéed zucchini. Zucchini is the perfect pair with sweet summer tomatoes, red pepper, olives, capers, fresh herbs and feta. It’s a fantastically flavourful salad that easily can be made ahead and tastes just as fabulous the next day. Plus it’s relatively guilt-free since it’s mayo-free and chock full of fresh, good-for-you ingredients.
Mediterraner Orzo-Salat is the ideal BBQ side dish
This Mediterranean orzo salad is a great alternative to classic pasta salad. Whether as a main course or for grilling – this orzo salad recipe is super simple, fresh and flavourful. And like any good picnic pasta salad, it can easily be made ahead of time and holds up really well. Plus, since it’s also mayo-free it makes it a great hot weather choice. And even if you are not planning a grill party, this is a perfect choice for meal-prep, easy take to work lunches. So add it to your repertoire — it’s de-licious!
What is Orzo?
Orzo (also called risoni or kritharaki) is a type of pasta with a shape resembling a large grain of rice. It’s typically made the same way as most pasta — with durum wheat semolina. But, nowadays you can find it made from whole wheat, and other types of grains, as well as gluten-free versions made from legume, such as chickpeas, lentils and peas.
Why I love this pasta salad recipe
- It’s made with easy to come by ingredients. The ingredients are easily obtained, easily adapted and this pasta salad is quick to make!
- It holds up well and can be made ahead of time.
- It is mayo-free and packed with seasonal summer vegetables.
- With lots of traditional Greek flavours it’s bound to please a crowd!
How to adapt this Mediterranean pasta salad
Choose a pasta shape
I simply love using orzo (rice shaped pasta noodles, which is also called risoni or kritharaki in Greece), however you could also use your favourite type of small pasta. Farfalle, and twisty pasta shapes such as fusilli are great. Or for something a little different, try orecchiette, volanti or strozzapreti.
Add or trade out some of the vegetables
Cucumber can easily replace zucchini. Small, thin skinned cucumbers are best, and seeding them helps avoid watering down the salad. Red pepper can be replaced with yellow or orange peppers. If you want a little more green, then add a handful of young arugula leaves. Although kalamata olives are typical of a Greek salad, you can trade them out for your favourite olives, and if need be, skip the capers.
Add some crunch
Toasted pine nuts add a nutty flavour and extra crunch that pairs perfectly with other Mediterranean flavours.
Looking for other pasta salad recipe ideas?
Then try one of these favourites:
- Broccoli Pasta Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
- Smoked Trout Orzo Salad with Artichokes & Fennel
- Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad
- Summer Pasta Salad with Fresh Corn, Tomato and Basil
- Easy Summer Pasta Salad
Mediterranean Pasta Salad
For the salad:
- 1 1/2 cups dry orzo pasta (250 g)
- 2 small zucchini, diced (250 g)
- Drizzle of olive oil
- Sea salat and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 pointed bell pepper or sweet bell pepper, diced
- 350 g cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 1 small red onion, finely diced
- 50 g Kalamata olives, seeded and sliced
- 1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed, chopped coarsely
- 1 generous handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 handful basil, slivered, plus more for garnish
- 150 g feta cheese, crumbled (or more)
For the dressing:
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
In a pot of salted boiling water, cook orzo according to package directions until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water; drain again.
Meanwhile in a non-stick skillet heat a small drizzle of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini, season with salt and pepper and sauté until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a large salad bowl. NOTE: I cook the zucchini just ever so slightly, and remove it from the heat before it starts to really soften.
Using a small bowl, make the dressing by whisking together the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, dijon mustard, garlic, dried oregano, salt, and black pepper until combined. While whisking, slowly add oil until fully combined.
Add the orzo to the salad bowl with the zucchini, along with the red pepper, tomatoes, onion, olives, capers, and parsley. Pour over the dressing and toss until well combined. Add the basil and crumbled feta cheese and gently toss again to incorporate.
Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Garnish with additional basil leaves and serve. Enjoy!
- If preferred, zucchini can be replaced with thin-skinned cucumber (seeded and diced).
- If making ahead, add the fresh basil just before serving.
- The salad will keep well in a sealed container for 3-4 days in the fridge. Feel free to revive flavours a little by adding a squeeze of lemon juice.
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