A seriously delicious Greek Pasta Salad with homemade dressing that will have your mouthwatering for more.
I’ve always thought of myself as being somewhat worldly when it comes to food. I’ve done my fair share of globetrotting, eating around and in many cases immersing myself in enjoying what the locals are consuming wherever I travel. Of course, that doesn’t make me a food expert, but I’ve always felt familiar with a lot of foods from various cultures.
Then one day maybe 25 years ago, I was dining in a beautiful Napa Valley restaurant. Greek salad was on the menu. Greek salad? Never heard of it. Suddenly, the world felt very large. What’s in a Greek salad? What are Greek ingredients? I didn’t even really know.
As an aside, since that initial introduction to Greek salad I have been known to put together this Layered Greek Dip and this Greek Chicken Pasta. And goodness knows I love my Greek yogurt desserts (does that count, probably not). So I am no longer completely out of it.
In my own defense, I had never been to Greece. In fact, I still haven’t. But I ordered the salad after I read the promising description of greens, crunchy cucumbers, fresh feta cheese, summer gold tomatoes, and bits of sweet, red onion, all tossed in superb olive oil and vinegar and topped with meaty Kalamata olives from the Peloponnese region of Greece. Wait, what’s a Kalamata olive?
The Kalamata olive is now my favorite olive on the planet. Since that dinner almost 20 years ago, there are always Kalamata olives in my pantry or fridge, just waiting for me to top off that perfect salad. This is one of the reasons I love cooking for people — you just never know when or how you’re going to inspire someone with a new ingredient or dish. The chef in that restaurant has no idea how much that one, simple salad inspired 20 years of eating and creating recipes for me. I can only hope I’ve inspired some of you in the past seven years to try something different, a food or a technique that’s now your specialty.
It turns out the term “Greek Salad” — here in the United States and around the world — has a very loose interpretation. It can include all kinds of Greek-inspired ingredients without being deemed in authentic. In Greece, the salads don’t include greens and are usually a base of cucumbers with various seasonings and herbs, nothing like what the rest of the world calls “Greek salad.” They’re even referred to as “peasant” or “country” salads by the Greek population.
At my house, Greek pasta salad is king. I love tossing together all my favorite “Greek” and other ingredients into a bowl of high quality pasta and serving it as the perfect side dish to so many main courses. And yes, orecchiette is my favorite shape of pasta when it comes to serving this type of dish. In fact, the name of the pasta even feels Greek to me, even though it’s clearly Italian.
Fresh veggies, garbanzo beans and high quality feta cheese round out my pasta salad, making every bite a flavor explosion of epic proportions. This is not an exaggeration!
My favorite ingredient to finish off this recipe is fresh oregano leaves. At the moment, my garden is bursting with this fresh herb and nothing compares to the flavor it adds to every bite. Pick some up in the fresh produce section if you’re not growing it yourself. It really shouldn’t be left out of this recipe.
I hope you and your family enjoy this pasta salad for years to come. It feeds a crowd and will be perfect for your next gathering.
And why not serve this Greek Pasta Salad with other Greek dishes and have yourself an old-fashioned Greek fest. I surely wouldn’t mind enjoying this salad with this Very Greek Grilled Chicken or a few scoops of this Skinny Greek Seven Layer Dip. However, I’ve got my eye on these Greek Cucumber Noodles and this Greek Lemon Chicken Soup. Heck, this pasta salad might even be best as a side dish next to these Greek Lamb Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce.
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Greek Pasta Salad
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
- 1-1/2 teaspoons finely minced fresh garlic
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 2 (12 ounce) packages orecchiette pasta
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 cups chopped English cucumbers
- 30 grape tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
- 1/3 cup finely shopped red onion
- 7 ounces feta cheese, cubed or crumbled
- 1 (9.5 ounce) jar sliced Kalamata olives, drained
- 1-1/4 cups artichoke hearts marinated in oil, halves and quarters, chop them if too big
- 1/8 cup fresh oregano leaves
- For the dressing, add all ingredients to a quart-size mason jar and shake until fully combined. Let it sit for at least two hours so the flavors meld. The dressing can easily be made up to two days in advance and kept in the refrigerator.
- Cook the pasta in salted water according to package directions. Drain and rinse well, making sure the pasta is cooled down and the shells aren't sticking together.
- When the pasta has cooled, transfer it to a large bowl and toss it with the dressing until fully combined. Add the garbanzo beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese, olives, artichoke hearts and oregano leaves. Toss together with the pasta.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours, or up to 24 hours.
I can’t WAIT to try this!!!
You will love it.
Cathy, Your story is so funny! I too had an encounter with “Greek Salad” that changed my view of Kalamata olives and Feta! About 30 years ago someone dropped off a “Greek Salad” to a reception I was hostessing. I don’t know about the rest of the room, but I loved it. I had the forethought to get the recipe before the donor left. Mine calls for tri-color corkscrew pasta mixed with regular shells. It also called for a package of “Giant Food” brand garlic-herb dressing.” All was well until one day I could no longer find the package dressing. I recently started looking for an oil and vinegar based “Greek” dressing, but have not been satisfied with what I found. This looks delicious!! I am going to make it tomorrow!! I also love the addition of artichoke hearts and the beans; makes it much healthier!! (not that i choose healthy over tasty any time.) THANK YOU, Cathy, for posting this recipe!
I hope this fits the bill!
This has my boyfriend written all over it. He loves pasta and loves Greek salads! Plus, he’s on a new heart healthy diet so this fits the bill. We will be trying it soon!
This is a complete meal … what a great salad!
Emily Wilson says
a great salad! I like it. Very delicious. I will share with my friends this recipe.thank you very much
Stephanie @ The Glamorous Gourmet says
I looooove Greek salad but have never made it with pasta! Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe – Cheers:)
Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet says
My oldest loves to make pasta salad! It’s so easy and they fill it up with veggies. Loving this Greek version!
Des @ Life's Ambrosia says
I am loving this salad Cathy! I’ve always been a fan of Greek salads and kalamata olives. I love adding them to my bruschetta too 🙂
This looks AMAZING! I’m adding it to my menu this week! I think I’ll add some grilled chicken breasts, too. <3
OPA……what a great Greek salad….a little ouzo an it would be complete!!!
Lydia L. says
Mmmm, I would love a big cold plate of it right now ! I make a salad much like this quite often , especially in the summer. I add bell peppers , usually green and red or orange, celery and green beans to. I also make it with couscous instead of pasta sometimes just for a bit of change. It is delicious either way . .I will have to try it with the artichoke hearts, I have never had them. Thank you so much . Can’t wait to check out some of the other recipes on here !!
Kara Kiernan says
Sorry for dumb question but where in grocery store are the artichoke hearts I’ve never had them and can’t recall ever seeing them at grocery store! What aisle would it be in and is it canned?
In the condiment aisle with olives, pickled peppers…that kind of stuff.
In my local stores, they’re with the canned mushrooms, pimentos, etc. 🙂
Judith Gamm says
I MADE THIS GREEK SALAD AS AN APPETIZER FOR A NEW YEARS EVE PARTY AND IT WAS THE HIT OF THE NIGHT
I WILL BE MAKING THIS OFTEN
THANK YOU SOOOOOOOO MUCH FOR POSTING THIS RECIPE
Judith Gamm says
I used splenda for the dressing
sugar is the secret to cut the vinegar
it worked for me
I also cut in zucchini & squash
anything could be added to this
just a great recipe
Cathy Cathey says
This sounds delightful! I love everything in it. I think I will add some chopped rotisserie chicken to it; then it’s dinner.
Cyndi Shannon says
I just made this and it was amazing! It does make ALOT, so you can always cut the recipe in half. I brought about half of it to work and put it out at lunch time and it disappeared so fast. Will definitely make this again and again!
Can you omit the sugar?
You can, it’s there to provide balance so you’ll have to taste and decide.
Judith Gamm says
I used splenda
sugar is the secret to cut the vinegar
it worked for me
it looks delicious and i want to make it asap. I am not a huge fan of the garbanzo bean and not sure what the kids would think but for some reason fresh corn looks like it would be good? Have you ever tried with corn or can you recommend substituting something else for the garbanzo bean? I may add some to try it but would love an idea of another substitution. JUST in case
It looks like a recipe that you can pretty much doctor up as long as you use that delicious sounding dressing.
Lauren Yung says
I am wanting to make this for my batch meals this week! How many days will this stay good? (Only the 24 like the recipe says?) Thanks for an awesome recipe!
It keeps great for several days.
Anita C says
I’m putting this together and just wanted to double check..does it really take 2 -12 oz boxes of pasta? Seems like a LOT of pasta but if that’s correct then that’s what I’ll toss in!
i used only one box of pasta
That’s a lot of dressing. Dies everyone use all of it?
Allow me to share this with my friends and family. Its delicious.
This looks Stunning! I’m adding it to my menu this week!
Donna Reale says
As to the amount of pasta, you have to remember that the orecchiette she used are a heavy pasta so they have less volume than say a box of rotini of the same weight.
Have you at any point attempted with corn or would you be able to prescribe substituting something unique for the garbanzo bean? I may add some to attempt it yet would love a thought of another substitution. In the event that something goes wrong…
Corn could work, but the salad will lose a lot of its flavor.
My family loves this salad. Easy to make and last several days in refrigerator.
Leona Maxwell says
Made this salad, was delicious, will be making again….Thanks
Glad you loved it.
I would use Romano or any similar bean instead of the garbanzo beans