Mediterranean Pasta Salad With Chickpeas is packed with fresh bold flavors, colorful pasta, chickpeas, fresh veggies, olives, and feta, and tossed with a simple homemade honey mustard salad dressing. The best Mediterranean flavors in one bowl. Gluten-free!
This easy recipe makes a perfect side salad or a quick delicious lunch salad the next day. Just drizzle with more dressing or olive oil, and enjoy.
There is a skip-to-recipe button in the top left corner along with a clickable table of contents list (just below) that will quickly take you to the part you are more interested in. Enjoy!
My few comments on the ingredients + don't forget to read the Tips section!
The full recipe and ingredients can be found in the recipe card below this post.
- Tomatoes - cocktail, cherry, red vine, or plum tomatoes. Usually tomatoes with stems on are the most flavorful as they are beautifully ripe. A little trick, don't rush to remove the stems from your tomatoes. Keep them until the very end and cut off only when ready to add to the pasta salad. This way, they retain their flavor for longer.
- Different Fresh Herbs - the essential ingredients that an authentic Mediterranean-style salad should consist of. Parsley, mint, and basil are one of the key elements for a refreshing salad. And you’ll need at least two of these (I used parsley and mint combo). Cut mint chiffonade or simply finely chop the leaves. Mix it into the dressing. Don't like mint? Substitute with fresh basil or cilantro.
- A block of feta for creamy and fresh salty flavor rather than prepackaged cubes.
- Cucumber - Dutch, English cucumber, and Persian cucumber (usually more expensive) are juicy and skin not bitter. They have thin skins which makes them great for salad.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Once cooked, drain it and drizzle with olive oil, place the hot pasta aside to cool.
Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl or mason jar.
Once pasta is chilled, transfer to a mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients and toss in the salad dressing.
Serve with more feta cheese and fresh herbs on top!
For best flavor, chill the salad in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving(without feta cheese, add this right before serving)
- Pasta - I used a mix of gluten-free pasta (spinach, red lentil, and corn/rice fusilli). Rotini pasta (basically a huge fusilli) is the most popular pasta type for cold salads as its texture allows the dressing to get stuck in nicely which gives the most flavor. Yum! Penne, Ditalini, or farfalle (bowties) or any other short and textured gluten free noodles (or any regular) are welcomed.
- Have plenty of time? Make these pan-roasted chickpeas from my salad recipe. Your pasta salad has just been upgraded.
- Don't overcook the pasta. This really makes sense. Cook the pasta until al dente, it will absorb the dressing so much better and not become soggy or mushy quickly.
- Essentially pasta salads are served cold, so be patient and don’t forget to chill your pasta once it’s cooked. If you have time, cook the pasta in the morning ahead of time. And when you have cooked the pasta and drained it from excess water, drizzle just a little olive oil (to prevent it from sticking) and stir until most of the pasta is covered. Keep in the fridge before use.
- Be generous with seasoning the pasta. It really makes some difference in taste after.
- How to cook pasta quickly - spread out the cooked pasta on a baking dish separate from one another. Or simply cook the pasta a day or two before.
- To make this salad more nutritious I recommend adding chopped toasted nuts (pine nuts, pecans, walnut, almonds). Just add your favorite ingredients!
- How to toasted nuts: Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven to 350 Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes or until they become fragrant and golden brown. These will burn quickly so make sure to keep an eye on the nuts, especially during the last minutes.
- More add-ons - Mediterranean cuisine consists of plenty of fresh vegetables, legumes and fish, yogurt and so much more. I like to make this salad with whatever veggies and Mediterranean ingredients I have in my kitchen at the moment. I'd outline here a few of my favorites: artichoke hearts, fresh arugula, black olives, goat cheese, celery, broccoli, squash, and zucchini.
- Let the veggie pasta salad absorb all the flavors from the dressing. Chill for at least 15-30 minutes (just don't add feta yet). If the pasta was not overcooked (cooked until al dente), it will soak up just the right amount of the dressing without becoming soggy.
What goes well with pasta salad? We like to enjoy the pasta salad on its own or served as a side dish for:
- any grilled chicken recipe
- grilled salmon or tuna
- Pork Chops or Pork Tenderloin
- Barbecue chicken
- Sandwiches, wraps
- Fried foods such as fried chicken wings, drumsticks, thighs and etc
- Corn on the cob either grilled, boiled, or baked in the oven
- As an appetizer choice along with cheese boards, tapas
Freezing And Storing Instructions
As it's a cold pasta salad, you can easily make it ahead by cooking the pasta 1-2 days in advance, chopping the veggies, making the dressing, and keeping everything separate in the fridge until ready to use.
Keep the cold pasta salad refrigerated at all times and closed in an airtight container. For best flavor consume within 3 days.
Pasta will continue to soak up the dressing as it sits. You’ll need to whip up extra dressing after day 1 or simply add a little bit oil and vinegar to refresh the flavors.
No, we wouldn't recommend rinsing pasta for pasta salad at all. Never. Rinsing will remove the thick starch content that helps all the sauce to absorb better and make the best veggie pasta salad for your dinner. After cooking, as I mentioned before, drizzle the pasta with olive oil as it helps the noodles to stick to each other, stir to coat and keep in the fridge before ready to use.
All the short noodle types are the best for pasta salads as they have all those little curves that help the creamy dressing to get stuck in them. Fusilli, farfalle, rotini, and penne are simply ideal for a cold pasta salad
If in a rush, you can easily chill your cooked pasta quickly. After cooking, remove the water by placing your noodles into a colander. Once drained transfer the whole colander with pasta into a large pot filled with ice-cold water and chill for a few minutes. Drain the water, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, and store in the fridge before ready to use. Don't forget to cover it first!
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Mediterranean Pasta Salad With Chickpeas
- 1 small red onion, sliced thin
- ⅛ teaspoon red chili flakes
- 10 oz gluten-free pasta, see notes
- ½ cup olives, (kalamata olives, green olives) pitted
- 2 bell peppers, tricolor or sub with cooked artichokes, hearts of palm, roasted red peppers
- 1 cup plum tomatoes, sliced in half or quarters
- 1 cup chickpeas, try these roasted ones
- 8 oz feta, or as much as your heart desires
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, of good quality, is a must
- 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoon honey, liquid
- 2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, or red wine vinegar
- Sea salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- red chili flakes , to taste
- Chili flakes
- Fresh parsley, basil
- 1 cup cucumber, english, persian, sliced
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Once cooked, drain it and drizzle with olive oil, place the hot pasta aside to cool.
- Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl or mason jar.
- Once pasta is chilled, transfer to mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients and toss in the salad dressing.
- Serve with more feta cheese and fresh herbs on top!
- For best flavor, chill the salad in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving(without feta cheese, add this right before serving)
ADD YOUR OWN PRIVATE NOTES
Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.
Full Nutrition Disclaimer can be found here.