Time to ditch those heavy, one-note pasta salads! This bright, flavor-packed shrimp pasta salad will be your new go-to! This no-mayonnaise pasta salad has a bit of a Mediterranean twist, loaded with bites of creamy avocado, chopped vegetables, fresh herbs and a light lemony dressing.
A couple of things make all the difference in this simple shrimp pasta salad, be sure to watch my video toward the end of this post.
Pasta salad is a bit of an American phenomenon—a delightful one, in my opinion.
There is a reason pasta salad shows up at almost every picnic or summer barbecue; it's a great dish meant for sharing.
If executed well, pasta salad--particularly shrimp pasta salad--can be a true star! But, let's face it, bad pasta salad is all too common it seems. I'm talking about one-note pasta salads that are heavy with mayonnaise and lacking in everything else.
Good news is, finding your way to a good pasta salad is possible! From vegetarian versions like our Italian or Greek pasta salad to this Mediterranean shrimp pasta salad, a punchy dressing and lots of fresh herbs makes all the difference.
Even better news, you don't have to wait for your next cookout or potluck to make it, this pasta salad makes a great light lunch--with shrimp being your main protein--or a simple side next to other Mediterranean favorites. For example, when I'm totally in the mood for a seafood meal, I'll do this shrimp pasta salad next to salmon kabobs! Trust me, it's a winning combination!
Why this Shrimp Pasta Salad works?
Three things stand out about this healthier, bright shrimp pasta salad:
1. A balanced ratio of pasta to other ingredients. If you review the ingredient list for this shrimp pasta salad, you'll see that it's not so much about the pasta.
Here, elbow pasta (or any small pasta of your choice) plays more of a support role to a host of delicious fresh ingredients--tomatoes, onions, green peppers, avocados and other Mediterranean favorites. Of course, a star ingredient is cooked shrimp, so there is plenty of it in this pasta salad.
2. Mediterranean Flavor Makers. Flavors are layered in this pasta salad starting with a generous amount of fresh herbs. We're not talking a garnish of fresh herbs here, we have about 1 cup each of chopped parsley and mint. I like to add other Mediterranean favorites like kalamata olives and feta cheese. (You can also add marinated artichoke hearts or mushrooms if you have them.)
3. A Lighter, brighter dressing. Not surprisingly, rather than a mayonnaise-based dressing, we dress this shrimp pasta salad in a Mediterranean-style dressing made of excellent extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, freshly minced garlic, and oregano.
Extra virgin olive oil is both a carrier and enhancer of flavor, so it's important to use a quality option in all salads. I used our Greek Early Harvest extra virgin olive oil, it's rich and fruity and lends just the right intensity to this shrimp pasta salad.
I like to make the dressing right in my large mixing bowl. Once we add all the ingredients, we simply toss to make sure everything is well-coated with the bright lemony dressing.
Prepare Ahead Instructions
A few tips, if you plan to prepare this shrimp pasta salad ahead of time:
1. It's a good idea to prepare this pasta salad a ½ hour to an hour before serving to allow flavors to meld, but, one thing you should do is hold the avocado until you are ready to serve. That way, avocados won't turn dark and ruin the way the salad looks.
2. You can prepare this salad up to 24 hours before serving. If you do that, make sure to hold the avocados, shrimp and feta and add them in closer to serving time.
3. If you have leftovers, you can refrigerate in a tight lid glass container. Remember that cooked shrimp will last something like 3 days if refrigerated properly. And of course, avocados will quickly change color.
Watch How I Make This Easy Shrimp Pasta Salad
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You'll love the Mediterranean twist to this shrimp pasta salad, loaded with chopped veggies, avocados, fresh herbs, and a bright lemony dressing. Be sure to watch the video above to see how I make it.
- ¼ cup lemon juice + 1 tsp lemon zest
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil (I used Early Harvest Greek extra virgin olive oil)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tbsp dried oregano (Greek oregano preferred)
- 1 tsp sweet Spanish paprika
- Salt and pepper
For Pasta Salad
- 2 cups cooked elbow pasta (from 1 cup dry pasta)
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup chopped red onions
- ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved or chopped
- 12 oz cooked large shrimp
- 2-3 avocados, pitted and chopped (dress avocado with lemon juice to avoid browning)
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- 1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, stems removed
- 4 oz Greek feta cheese, cubed or crumbled
- Make the lemony dressing. In a large bowl, whisk lemon juice, zest, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, spices, salt and pepper.
- Now build the salad. Add the pasta to the same bowl. Add remaining ingredients except the feta. Toss well to combine, then add feta and give just a gentle toss (see note below, if you want to make this pasta ahead of time.)
- Cook's Tip for Make Ahead: 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.
- This recipe will serve about 10 people, if served as part of a potluck next to other dishes.
- 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 our Greek Olive Oil Bundle
- Visit our shop to browse our spices, olive oils and bundles!
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 10 mins
- Category: Salad
- Method: Stove Top
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keywords: Shrimp Pasta Salad, Mediterranean Pasta Salad, Pasta Salad No Mayo
* This post was recently updated with new information and media for readers benefit. Enjoy!