Have you ever made dish that just made you feel fancy? For me, this pasta salad was that dish. It’s quite literally one of the first things that I ever made that made me feel like I might be ok at this cooking thing after all and I used to think these ingredients were so exotic! 🙂 Maybe you’re in that boat right now, and that’s great! I’ve been there!
Short story on how this recipe came about because: blogging.
My husband and I had recently gone to Indianapolis and eaten at this Italian restaurant that sadly is no longer there, but they had this yummy pasta on the menu that totally inspired this dish. Besides the fact I felt fancy for ordering something with sundried tomatoes and feta (so bougie, right?), I had never even had feta warm on a dish so I was intrigued. When my plate came out I was immediately taken by the smell. The feta was strong, but not overpowering to the sundried tomato, garlic, basil, and oregano. I could almost immediately tell this was something I was going to love!
The following weekend we had a big cookout to attend (remember those?). I was slated to bring a side dish, and I was so inspired by the flavors on my plate at the restaurant that I decided to remix the ingredients (plus a few of my own) into a pasta salad.
I’m always looking for a way to add extra vegetables to any dish I make, so artichoke hearts joined the list of ingredients. It lacked a little texture, so something crunchy needed to join the party and pine nuts were the perfect solution! I left out the oregano per the restaurant pasta and instead decided to top it with some fresh basil because that’s what I had on hand. Before chickpea noodles were a thing, I used whole wheat pasta in whatever shape I thought was fun. I love using Banza’s gemelli shape for this dish, but you can use whatever pasta you have on hand.
This could 100% be served for dinner as well. I’ve added both salmon and grilled chicken to make it a whole meal in itself.
This is my husband’s favorite pasta dish that I make (and that’s saying a lot for a guy who had never eaten GARLIC prior to meeting me) so I’m dedicating this post to him if that’s a thing.
Dishing out love, laughter, and recipes from my brain to your plate,
Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- 1 Box of Banza Gemelli noodles (or whatever kind and shape you prefer)
- 1 small jar of julienned sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (don’t forget to reserve the oil 🙂 )
- 2-3 Tablespoons of toasted pine nuts*
- Handful of fresh basil chiffoned*
- 1 can of artichoke hearts packed in water, roughly chopped.
- Grilled or cooked chicken, salmon, or shrimp (optional)
- 1/2-3/4 Cup of Feta cheese crumbled (I prefer Athenos feta with sundried tomato)
- salt and pepper to taste
*It’s ok to omit the pine nuts if you wish (expensive little things). To toast the pine nuts, place them in a small dry skillet over medium low heat moving them around every once in a while until they start to give off a toasted smell and are slightly browned.
*to chiffon the basil: stack leaves on top of one another, roll them up, and thinly slice it making thin ribbons. I highly recommend fresh, but if fresh basil is not available, you can use dried.
Cook the pasta according to package directions (make sure to add salt to the boiling water. This is your only chance to season the pasta itself).
Allow the pasta to cool. (if the pasta is too warm, it will melt the feta cheese when it is tossed in)
Drain and Roughly chop the artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes reserving the oil from the sundried tomato jar. Leave these as small or as large as you would want to eat them on the pasta. Totally your call here.
Chiffon the basil. Reserve a few ribbons for the top to make it extra pretty if you want.
Toss the pasta gently* together with the reserved sundried tomato oil (a few tablespoons or so), a small sprinkle of salt and pepper, and all of the other ingredients except the pine nuts. Taste for salt and pepper and add as needed. *I say gently because you don’t want to break up the feta cheese too terribly…unless you do…then go for it.
After it’s all tossed together add the pine nuts on top. Garnish with basil if you wish 🙂
- This pasta salad is also delicious with the addition of sauteed garlic and/or black olives
- Make this up to a day ahead of time. In fact, the flavors get even better when it’s able to chill overnight.
- This would also be delicious with gluten free orzo and would require no cutting up of the pasta for younger littles!