Light ‘n easy greek pasta salad

Hi friends, happy weekend!Hope everyone is having a restful Saturday and Sunday. It was a busy week for me full of studying, classes, practicals, and labs. I had my first exam yesterday (Saturday exams=horrible!) and I finished my first class, too. That, coupled with some hardcore morning workouts and a week of regular classes left me quite exhausted come yesterday afternoon.  Sleeping in today followed by blueberry pancakes for breakfast was like a dream, and was just what I needed! I <3 the weekends. Normally, I prefer to go the homemade route for pancakes, but this little gem came in handy for a lazy Sunday:

They may not be the best for you nutrition-wise, but they sure do taste good.  We’re all allowed to splurge every now and then, especially on Saturday’s and Sunday’s in my book!

Anyway, since this week was quite busy, I resorted to making simple dinner recipes all week, including taco salad, homemade pizza, and a night of breakfast for dinner, too. It was nothing fancy, but it did the trick! Since this week was pretty boring on the meal-front, I thought I’d share something I made last Saturday for a dinner party that was pretty exciting in my book. I’m calling it Light ‘n Easy Greek Pasta Salad (minus the olives!). I have made this twice now, and I think I enjoyed it even more this second time around. Not only is it healthier than a traditional pasta salad (it’s mayonnaise-free and I reduced the amount of oil used in the original recipe), it’s also packed full of crisp vegetables and antioxidants, and you can use whole-wheat pasta for added nutrients. That is a win-win in my book!

I haven’t always been the biggest pasta-salad lover, simply because I despise mayonnaise, and the majority of pasta salads offered at restaurants and stores seem to be mayo-based. However, this recipe combines my love of feta cheese, cucumbers, spinach, and a olive-oil based dressing all into one. Just look at these colors!

It’s also super easy and quick to make, too. I recommend boiling your water for the pasta first, and while it’s boiling, do all of your vegetable chopping and make the dressing. By the time the pasta is cooked, most of the work will be done!

Light ‘n Easy Greek Pasta Salad
Adapted from All Recipes Greek Pasta Salad
2 cloves garlic, finely minced (I used a tablespoon of pre-minced garlic)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water

Pasta Salad Ingredients:
1 pound whole-wheat medium shell pasta
3/4 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 dry pint cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped in half
1/2 large red onion, chopped
6 ounces reduced-fat feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved (optional) I omitted these, I am not an olive lover!
3 cups firmly packed baby spinach

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until done, about 8 minutes or so. Drain and rinse under cold water, then transfer the pasta to a mixing bowl.

2. While the water is boiling and the pasta is cooking, chop the vegetables and set them aside. Then  make the dressing. For the dressing, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, water and olive oil in a small bowl, until well combined.

3. Add the dressing, spinach, and vegetables to the pasta, then crumble with the feta cheese, and toss it all together. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve. Enjoy!

We enjoyed this on the side of barbequed chicken, zucchini, and a simple tossed salad. It was the perfect end-of-summer- in-Australia meal. By reducing the amount of olive oil used in the original recipe and adding water to the base, it lightened-up this pasta salad even more, without bringing down the taste. This is becoming a repeat recipe in our house. I just love when that happens!
Do you have a favorite pasta salad recipe? Please share!

8 thoughts on “Light ‘n easy greek pasta salad

  1. Oh yum! I love Greek salads!

    My current favourite pasta salads are either roasted beets or roasted pumpkin with feta and various mix ins – so delicious!

    I also used to make a pasta salad (pre allergies) that was based on a taco style five layer dip that had Greek yogurt mixed with taco seasoning, diced tomatoes, sliced shallots, diced avocado, cooked pasta and a sprinkle of cheese – so, so good!

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