Not your average shrimp pasta salad, this Mediterranean pasta salad is a lighter, brighter, flavor-packed dish. Perfect as a side, but a great lunch on its own!
Pasta salad is a bit of an American phenomenon—a delightful one, in my opinion. There is something appealing about a side of chilled pasta salad. The trouble is, most pasta salad recipes I’ve come across are heavy and creamy. And often times, they are mostly pasta, lacking in variety and texture.
This Mediterranean pasta salad is another matter.
Essentially, this is shrimp pasta salad with a Mediterranean twist. But…
Why this Mediterranean Pasta Salad works?
Three things stand out about this Mediterranean pasta salad:
- A balanced ratio of pasta to other ingredients. Rather than taking center stage, the elbow pasta plays more of a support role to a host of delicious ingredients.
- Lighter, brighter dressing. Not surprisingly, rather than a mayonnaise-based dressing, we dress this Mediterranean pasta salad in excellent olive oil and lemon juice with fresh minced garlic and spices.
- Other Mediterranean flavor makers–a healthy dose of fresh herbs, red onions, and Mediterranean favorites like Kalamata olives and salty feta.
If you’re after the best pasta salad, you know that selecting quality ingredients is important. I won’t use wilted herbs or bruised tomatoes here, for example.
And equally important to me is excellent extra virgin olive oil, which is both a carrier and enhancer of flavor. I use our own Early Harvest extra virgin olive oil, and can’t recommend it enough for pasta dishes like this one.
The result is a refreshing, flavor-packed Mediterranean pasta salad. Filling enough to stand on its own as lunch, and delightful as a side dish next to other Mediterranean favorites.
- 1/4 cup lemon juice + 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tbsp dried oregano (Greek oregano preferred)
- 1 tsp sweet Spanish paprika
- Salt and pepper
- 1/3 cup Early Harvest extra virgin olive oil, more if needed later
For Pasta Salad
- 2 cups elbow pasta
- 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, stems removed (or 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves)
- 1/2 cup chopped red onions
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved or chopped
- Pepper flakes, optional
- 2-3 avocados, pitted and chopped (dress avocado with lemon juice to avoid browning)
- 12 oz cooked large shrimp
- 4 oz Greek feta cheese, cubed or crumbled
- Cook pasta in boiling water according to package instructions until al dante (add salt and a little olive oil to cooking water).
- Meanwhile, make the dressing. In a large bowl, whisk lemon juice, zest, garlic, spices, salt and pepper together. Whisk in Early Harvest extra virgin olive oil in a slow and steady stream until smooth.
- When pasta is ready, drain. Whisk the dressing again to blend, then add the pasta to the same bowl. Add the remaining ingredients except avocado, shrimp and feta. Toss to mix thoroughly; and let the pasta salad cool completely.
- When you are ready to serve, add avocado and shrimp. Drizzle a little more olive oil. Toss gently to combine, then add feta. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.Transfer to serving platter. Serve at room temperature.
- Make ahead instructions You can make the pasta salad up to 24 hours earlier (hold avocado, shrimp and feta until later). Bring pasta salad to room temperature before serving; follow step 4 to serve.
- Recommended for this Recipe Early Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Single estate, cold pressed, from organically grown and processed Koroneiki olives). And all-natural spanish paprika.
- SAVE! Try the Ultimate Mediterranean Spice Bundle!
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