Looking for a fun, new side dish for picnic season? This Vegan Mediterranean Pasta Salad recipe is a winner! Featuring pasta, a colorful mix of healthy veggies, briny Kalamata olives, and a flavorful homemade Greek dressing, this vegan Mediterranean bowl is perfect for a light lunch, speedy dinner, or side salad for your next cookout. Made with just a handful of fresh ingredients in only a few minutes time, it's perfect for meal prep or whenever you need a quick and tasty meal on the go.
Made with a combination of perfectly al dente pasta, crisp cucumbers, juicy tomatoes, colorful bell peppers, tangy kalamata olives, and zesty red onions, this vegan Greek pasta salad is a vibrant explosion of flavors and textures. It's basically an all-expenses paid trip to the Mediterranean on a plate!
You can also follow my lead and take this plant-based pasta salad recipe up a notch by adding some creamy crumbled vegan feta cheese and a mix of fresh herbs. And let's not forget about my easy homemade Greek pasta salad dressing that brings all the flavors together — it's an utter delight, and healthy to boot.
This chopped Mediterranean salad with pasta may be bright, colorful, and mouth-wateringly delicious, but, more importantly, it's also easy to make. So, whether you're hosting a summer BBQ or need a quick, healthy, make-ahead lunch option, this salad has got you covered. Plus, it's entirely vegan, so it's suitable for all your plant-based pals out there. What’s not to love??
As promised, you only need a few easy-to-find ingredients to make this vegan Mediterranean chopped salad with pasta. Here’s what to grab:
- Short Cut Pasta - Any short shape will do here, so choose your favorite. Mediterranean orzo salad is a classic, but bowties, elbows, or corkscrew-shaped Gemelli are all great options, too!
- Cucumber - I prefer using English cucumbers (the long, skinny kind that come wrapped in plastic) because they are thin-skinned and don’t require the extra step of removing the seeds. Feel free to use conventional, garden-fresh cukes instead!
- Cherry or Grape Tomatoes - I love the bite-sized shape of these mini maters, but you are also welcome to dice up a meaty tomato variety like Roma if you prefer.
- Bell Pepper - Any color (yellow, orange, red, or green) will work here. Remember that the green variety will taste less sweet and more earthy than the others.
- Kalamata Olives - These violet-black olives are a staple of Mediterranean cuisine and are especially prized for their mild, nearly sweet, and fruity flavor.
- Red Onion - For a touch of allium sharpness. You can swap in sweet yellow onions or shallots if you prefer, but the color won’t be nearly as stunning if you do.
- Vegan Feta - This is optional, but really adds to the dish. I love Violife brand, but you can also make your own using pressed, extra-firm tofu!
- Fresh Herbs - Mint, dill, and parsley are my favorites here, but fresh Greek oregano is also a lovely addition. Feel free to mix and match to your heart’s content.
- Homemade Greek Dressing - My homemade recipe takes mere minutes to whip up and is completely free from artificial ingredients, preservatives, and coloring. Feel free to use your favorite store-bought version if you prefer!
Prep a batch of my Homemade Greek Salad Dressing, and set aside.
Cook pasta according to box instructions in salted water. When the pasta is al dente, drain and rinse in cold water until cool.
While the pasta is cooking, wash and prep all of the veggies and herbs. Place the veggies in a large serving bowl with the pasta.
Drizzle the dressing over the veggies and pasta, and toss until everything is well coated.
Hint: you can place the pasta salad in the refrigerator until it is chilled, and serve!
Pro Tips for Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- The quickest way to halve a bunch of cherry tomatoes is to place them on a cutting board, plate, or delitainer lid, then take a second cutting board, plate, or delitainer lid and press it down on top of the tomatoes. Using a sharp (preferably serrated) knife, slice horizontally through the tomatoes in between the two board. This will allow you to halve multiple cherry tomatoes at once with minimal effort and in no time! Just be sure to watch your fingers while cutting.
- Remove some of the bite from your onions by first soaking the slices in cool water for 10 minutes. Then, drain and pat the onions dry before adding them to the salad.
- Salt your pasta water! There is only one chance to add seasoning to the actual pasta, so don’t miss it.
- Dress the pasta while it’s still warm for better absorption of flavors.
First, don't overcook your pasta. Nobody wants mushy pasta in their salad! So make sure to cook it al dente, which means it's firm to the bite. Then, rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process.
Second, don't be shy with the dressing! You don't want a dry and bland salad, so make sure to add enough dressing to coat all the ingredients. But don't overdo it and make it soupy, either.
Third, choose the right pasta shape. Some shapes work better than others for pasta salad. You want a shape that will hold up well and not get lost in the mix. So think rice-shaped orzo, penne, fusilli, rotini, or any other short shape that can hold onto dressing and other ingredients.
Fourth, add plenty of flavor. Pasta salad can be pretty plain if you don't season it properly. So be sure to add enough salt and pepper, as well as some fresh herbs, spices, or even a bit of crumbled vegan feta cheese to give it a little extra oomph.
And finally, be patient and let it chill! Pasta salad needs to chill for at least an hour before serving so the flavors can meld together and the dressing can soak into the pasta. Don't rush it, just pop it in the fridge and let it work its magic.
Now, granted — I’m not a registered nutrition professional, so take my advice with a grain of salt. But the way I see it, absolutely! Greek pasta salad can be a healthy and delicious dish, especially when made with fresh, whole ingredients.
Cucumbers, cherry or grape tomatoes, bell peppers, and red onions are all packed with essential nutrients and plenty of fiber, while Kalamata olives and vegan feta cheese add healthy fats and protein to the dish.
And, since the pasta is only ONE component of the salad that is balanced out with all the veggies and other ingredients, it can definitely be a healthy choice.
Of course, it's important to keep in mind that the dressing can quickly add calories and fat to the salad, so it's a good idea to both make your own homemade version and use it in moderation.
As much as we love this vegan Mediterranean salad recipe just the way it is written, there are PLENTY of opportunities for you to make it your own. Here are a few ideas to get your creative wheels turning:
- Add some drained, canned chickpeas or white beans for an extra boost of protein and fiber, plus a lovely creamy consistency.
- Don't have vegan feta cheese? Swap it out for some plain crumbled tofu or a sprinkle of nutritional yeast.
- For a gluten-free option, use your favorite GF pasta or swap it out for cooked quinoa.
- Add some roasted veggies like eggplant, zucchini, or marinated artichoke hearts for an added boost of fresh, summery, Mediterranean flavor.
- Use a different dressing (think tangy balsamic vinaigrette, Italian dressing, or even a creamy tahini dressing) instead of the homemade Greek salad dressing.
- Top off your pasta salad with some crunchy toasted pine nuts or almonds for a bit of texture, plus extra healthy fats to keep you fuller, longer.
- For a lower-carb option, swap out some of the pasta for more veggies like chopped kale or peppery arugula.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
There are plenty of reasons to fall in love with this gorgeous Mediterranean pasta salad recipe. It’s bright, beautiful on the plate, and bursting with the fresh flavors of summer!
Aside from tasting like a midsummer’s night dream, though, this Greek pasta salad recipe is also:
- Quick & Easy - You’ll basically be done in the amount of time it takes for your pasta to boil to al dente perfection.
- Made With Fewer Than 10 Ingredients - A short shopping list makes any recipe feel more attainable, amirite?
- Customizable & Versatile - Omit ingredients that don’t speak to you, add in new ones that do, swap out your dressing, or do what you need to make it fit to your dietary needs and preferences. Honestly, there’s nothing (at least culinarily speaking) this vegan pasta salad can’t do!
Let me know if you try out this Mediterranean pasta salad, and if you do, I would love it if you left a rating and review below! Make sure you are also following along on Instagram and Pinterest for more food inspiration.
Looking for other Mediterranean recipes like this? Try these:
Heading to a BBQ or potluck? These are my favorite dishes to serve along with this Mediterranean pasta salad: