Healthy Mediterranean Pasta Salad—ideal for a crowd and also right at home on a meal plan for quick weekday lunches. This healthy pasta salad is savory and satisfying thanks to bold ingredients like sun dried tomatoes, olives, and goat cheese. Use bean or lentil pasta to keep this salad healthy and free of refined grains! 

pasta, spinach, olives and sun dried tomatoes in a white bowl set on top of a napkin

What’s in Mediterranean Pasta Salad?

I’ll run through what I put in my Mediterranean pasta salad, but like all good pasta salads, this one can easily be modified to suit your preferences and your pantry. Check out the ingredient substitutions later in this article for ideas on how you can make this salad different every time. 

Here’s what’s in this mediterranean pasta salad:

I love the combination of sweet, tangy and briny ingredients in this healthy pasta salad. The balance of flavors make it satisfying enough to be an all-in-one meal.

image of dry pasta, sun dried tomatoes, olives, chickpeas, spinach, basil and oregano arranged on a counter top

How Do You Make Mediterranean Pasta Salad?

There are four simple steps to making a pasta salad. 

  1. Cook the pasta
  2. Make the vinaigrette
  3. Chop the ingredients
  4. Toss it all together(and give it a little taste)!

Pasta salad is one of the easiest things to prepare, but there are a few tricks that’ll make the process quicker and more efficient. Here’s how to make this pasta salad as efficiently as possible. 

Before you even get started prepping your ingredients, fill a large pot with water and get it on the stove over high heat.

While you wait for the water to come to a boil, make the vinaigrette in a very large bowl. It’s important to make the vinaigrette first, and to make it in a large bowl. For one, it decreases the amount of dishes you use, and two, it makes tossing everything together much easier. 

Generously season the boiling water with salt, drop the pasta in, give it a stir, and cook according to package directions. 

While the pasta cooks, prep the rest of the salad ingredients. 

Drain the pasta and immediately transfer to the bowl with the vinaigrette. Give the pasta a quick toss in the vinaigrette (the hot pasta will absorb some of the flavorful vinaigrette). 

Then add in the chickpeas, shallots, olives and sun dried tomatoes and give it all a toss. Add the spinach and basil and toss again. 

Finally, sprinkle cheese over top and give it a quick stir. Don’t forget to give it a taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed!

How Long Does Pasta Salad Last?

Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, this pasta salad will last up to five days. 

I don’t recommend freezing this recipe. 

pasta, spinach, olives and sun dried tomatoes in a white bowl set on top of a napkin

Variations

  • Add some protein: 
    • chicken or chicken sausage
    • marinated tofu 
    • diced salami 
    • canned tuna or salmon
  • Add canned artichoke hearts
  • Instead of sun dried tomatoes, add fresh cherry tomatoes
  • Instead of olives, add capers
  • Swap out the rotini for a smaller grain pasta like orzo
  • Use feta instead of goat cheese 
  • Instead of basil, use parsley 
  • Use thinly sliced red onion instead of shallot
  • Add diced cucumber 
pasta, spinach, olives and sun dried tomatoes in a white bowl set on top of a napkin

What Makes This Pasta Salad Healthy?

Here at ZK I define healthy (or healthy-ish) cooking as using whole-grains, lots of veggies, fish, lean meat, and healthy fats as often as I can. 

For this salad I chose to keep it vegetarian with the option to leave out the cheese and keep it vegan. 

I also opted for a heart-healthy homemade vinaigrette made with extra-virgin olive oil.

And instead of using regular refined pasta, I call for a bean-based pasta, but whole-wheat or whole-grain gluten-free pasta would also be great.

From there I toss in a ton of spinach (or arugula), chickpeas, and sun dried tomatoes. All that’s left is to finish the salad with some ingredients that’ll bring bold flavor to the party—basil and olives, because every pasta salad needs something fresh and something briny! 

pasta, spinach, olives and sun dried tomatoes in a white bowl set on top of a napkin

What to Serve This Pasta Salad With…

Crowd-Pleasing Salads You May Also Like…

pasta, spinach, olives and sun dried tomatoes in a white bowl set on top of a napkin

Healthy Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Yield 9 cups
Category Salad
Cuisine Mediterranean
Author Lauren Grant

Description

Savory and bold in flavor, this Healthy Mediterranean Pasta Salad is made with bean or whole-wheat pasta, an oregano vinaigrette, fresh veggies and briny olives. Perfect as a side dish, lunch, or all-in-one meal!

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1 ½ teaspoons dried
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces bean or lentil pasta, such as Banza rotini, or whole-wheat pasta of choice
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ¾ cup sliced green olives
  • ½ cup thinly sliced shallot
  • ½ cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
  • 4 cups chopped spinach or arugula
  • ½ cup chopped basil
  • 2 ounces fresh goat cheese (chevre), crumbled

Instructions

  • Cook pasta until al dente, about 1 minutes less than listed on package directions.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, oregano, Dijon, honey, and pepper flakes.
  • Drain pasta and add to bowl with vinaigrette; toss to coat. Add chickpeas, olives, shallot, and sun dried tomatoes; and mix to combine. Add spinach and basil and toss to combine; season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle goat cheese over top and stir just until combined.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes

If making ahead (or if you have leftovers), store pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Stored this way, pasta salad will last up to 5 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 cupCalories: 345kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 18gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2.5gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 700mgFiber: 11gSugar: 7.5g
Keywords healthy pasta salad, mediterranean pasta salad, pasta salad
Did you make this recipe?Leave a comment below and tag @ZestfulKitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #zestfulkitchen!
pasta, spinach, olives and sun dried tomatoes in a white bowl set on top of a napkin

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made this last night to go with some grilled chicken skewers and WOW! We loved it. It’s really bold in flavor. I didn’t have bean pasta so used some whole-wheat penne, came out great!