This Greek-Style Pasta salad recipe is today’s Meatless Monday feature. Coated with a simple dressing of red wine vinegar, garlic and oregano, the pasta of your choice is tossed with loads of fresh, vibrantly colored vegetables, peperoncini, kalamata olives and crumbled feta cheese. It’s filling, it’s fast, and the leftovers are even better the next day!
For this salad, I’ve used cavatappi pasta, but you can use whatever you have on hand, or your favorite shape. The corkscrew shape of the cavatappi (also known as spirali and fusilli rigati) is perfect for capturing morsels of feta and herbs and even slices of vegetables.
Normally I make this salad with fresh oregano, and lots of it, but the extremely harsh winter we’ve had killed all of the perennial herbs in my wee kitchen garden. While I’ll get to start over with my herb bed soon, I didn’t have any fresh oregano on-hand. I do have a neat trick for the dry oregano I added to the red wine vinegar for the dressing, though.
The first thing I did before beginning prep of the pasta and vegetables was to make the super-simple red wine vinegar-based dressing. Dry oregano, along with garlic powder and ground black pepper, is added to the red wine vinegar. By mixing this first, while the pasta cooks and you chop vegetables, the oregano has a chance to re-hydrate a bit.
Also, you’ll notice I didn’t add oil to the dressing. I tend to leave oil out of my dressings completely. I did use just a bit, one tablespoon, but I drizzled it over the cooked pasta and tossed it before adding any other ingredients to the salad. That little dab of oil will keep the pasta from sticking together, and it will also allow the herbs to cling to the cavatappi when the salad is tossed together.
Then, fresh cucumber, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, red onion, peperoncini, kalamata olives and feta cheese are added. I didn’t add any salt to the recipe, since the kalamata olives and the feta cheese provided that salty-briny flavor. Of course, use your own taste buds to see if any needs to be added to suit you.
Another tip for you, and I’ve said it before, but I keep a bag of the mini-snacking bell peppers on-hand all of the time. Not only are they great for snacking and dipping, but they will give you a variety of colored peppers to add to your food. The bags I buy contain red, orange and yellow mini-peppers and are perfect for adding gorgeous color to your cooking without having to buy large peppers of different colors.
In pretty much the time it takes to cook the pasta, you can prepare all of the vegetables for the salad and be ready to eat in around 20 minutes. The leftovers of this salad are just delicious, too. I hope you’ll try it.
- FOR THE DRESSING:
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ground black pepper, to taste
- FOR THE SALAD:
- 8 ounces cavatappi (or pasta of your choice), cooked in salted water according to the package instructions for al dente, drained and rinsed with cold water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large cucumber, diced (about 2 cups)
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup sweet bell peppers, sliced
- ¾ cup red onion, sliced
- ⅓ cup sliced peperoncini
- ¼ cup sliced kalamata olives
- 2 ounces crumbled feta cheese (about ½ cup)
- salt (if desired)
- FOR THE DRESSING:
- In a small bowl, add the red wine vinegar, oregano, garlic powder and ground black pepper, stir to combine. Let sit while you prepare the pasta and vegetables.
- FOR THE SALAD:
- In a large bowl, add the cooked, drained and rinsed pasta and the olive oil.
- Toss to coat the pasta with the oil.
- Add the cucumber, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, red onion, peperoncini, kalamata olives and crumbled feta.
- Toss to combine.
- Taste and add salt, if desired.