Greek Pasta Salad – a Quick & Easy Packed Lunch Idea
I first discovered Greek pasta salad while I was living and working in Halifax, Nova Scotia in my early twenties. There was a delightful little cafe just down the street from where I worked and they served the most wonderful assortment of salads. This cafe was an ideal place to go for a quick lunch break, and I used to order their Greek pasta salad regularly.
However, I used to ask them to remove the olives before they handed me my lunch. At that time I’d never even tried an olive, I thought they were hideously unattractive and I was not going to eat them! The staff always looked at me rather strangely when I asked them to remove the olives and I now understand why – good quality olives make this dish.
It wasn’t until I ended up on a press trip to Sardinia (a car launch of all things!) in my mid-20s that I developed a passion for olives.
I am now a lover of all things olive, and much to my delight, so are my children.
This Greek pasta salad recipe is one of our family favourites. It’s been made time and time again from a handwritten recipe that’s been in my notebook for a very long time. I have no idea where the original recipe came from, unfortunately, so I can’t credit the source.
Ingredients for Greek Pasta Salad
- 300 grams dried pasta – I like tricolour fusilli, but trotolle makes for a nice chunky variation. Make it gluten-free by experimenting with any of the gluten-free pasta options available nowadays.
- 220 grams cherry tomatoes – I like vine-ripened piccolo tomatoes
- half a cucumber – quartered and sliced
- one small red onion- finely chopped
- kalamata olives – pitted, or not – I prefer with the pits.
- feta cheese – look out for the PDO label to make sure it’s the real thing.
- extra virgin olive oil – I use Pomora
- one lemon, juice only
- a couple of garlic cloves – to taste, finely chopped
- plenty of freshly ground black pepper
- fresh basil leaves – to garnish if desired
How to Make Greek Pasta Salad – Step by Step Instructions
- Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions for about 10-12 minutes, until al dente. Drain and rinse the pasta under cold water to halt the cooking process.
- Add your tomatoes, cucumber, red onion and kalamata olives.
- Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and black pepper to make a dressing.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and gently mix to coat well.
- Sprinkle over the feta cheese.
- Gently combine. Chill until needed.
Greek pasta salad makes for a wicked packed lunch and if you are a fridge raider like me, it’s a perfect midnight snack with a generous grinding of black pepper over the top.
In fact, just keep the pepper grinder next to you and add more pepper as you work your way through the dish. That’s how I eat mine, anyway. You can never have too much black pepper, in my humble opinion!
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Easy Greek Pasta Salad Recipe
- 300 grams dried fusilli pasta
- 220 grams cherry tomatoes quartered
- 160 grams cucumber sliced and quartered
- 60 grams red onion finely diced
- 125 grams kalamata olives
- 200 grams feta cheese
- 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon juice only
- 2 garlic cloves
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- fresh basil leaves to garnish
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- Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to packet instructions until al dente (around 10-12 minutes).
- Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse well under cold water to halt the cooking process.
- Place the cooled pasta in a large bowl and add the quartered cherry tomatoes, cucumber, diced red onion and olives.
- In a separate small bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. Season well with freshly ground black pepper.
- Pour the dressing over the pasta and the vegetables, stirring to coat.
- Sprinkle over the feta cheese and gently combine.
- Season with more freshly ground black pepper, if desired, and chill until needed.
- Garnish with fresh basil leaves, if desired.