Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Most of the time, the phrase, “pasta salad” does not conjure up the freshest or healthiest associations. I typically think of macaroni or rotini doused in a bland, mayonnaise-y dressing with bacon and cheddar chunks floating around. Not that there’s anything wrong with that….but sometimes you want a pasta side dish with a more updated and flavorful twist!

My family has been making this pasta salad for years and I am not sure where the recipe originated from but it is so good and it’s definitely a family favorite, not to mention the perfect summery dish for a picnic or a barbecue. Whenever I need to make a side dish to bring to an event I make this and it is always completely gone by the end of the party!
   
This salad packs a HUGE flavor punch. The Kalamata olives and red onion makes it anything but bland, and the feta cheese and sun-dried tomatoes give this dish a Mediterranean flair. The result is a unique and much lighter version of the classic picnic pasta salad that is quick and easy to throw together. And while I don’t really know if you can call anything with pasta as the main ingredient “healthy”…..this is probably as good as it gets 🙂 The dressing is made with olive oil and red wine vinegar so you get plenty of zip without the heaviness of mayo. Feel free to bump up the amount of spinach or add in some shredded rotisserie chicken and make a meal of it!
Mediterranean Pasta Salad:

Salad:
-1 pound fusilli (bowties), cooked al dente and drained
-6 oz feta cheese
-2 tablespoons red onion, chopped
-1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
-1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
-1 1/2 cups spinach leaves, chopped or sliced into ribbons

Dressing:
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
-1 clove garlic, crushed
-1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Combine dressing ingredients and set aside.

2. Crumble cheese over drained pasta in a large mixing or salad bowl.

3. Add red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and spinach to pasta; toss.

4. Pour dressing over pasta, toss well, and serve or refrigerate until ready to eat.