As the weather warms and flowers begin to push out of the soil, spring is definitely in the air and, along with it, the desire to get outside and enjoy more meals inspired by the season. For me, that means clever pasta salads to serve alongside springtime menus on a warm day. So this time around, I'm offering a pasta salad inspired by the flavors of Greece.
A few notes about the pasta in your pasta salad before we talk about what to serve it with. Choose the best shape. Look for short pasta shapes with nooks and crannies to hold the dressing such as rotini, fusilli, cavatappi, elbow macaroni, or bow ties. I used rotini and it was perfect. When making pasta salads, always salt the pasta water. Because pasta salad is eaten cold, the flavors tend to get muted so you want to make sure your pasta is well-salted as it cooks. Also, cook the pasta a little past al dente. Again, since you’re serving the pasta cold, cook the pasta a minute or two longer than you normally would, but don't let it get mushy. Pasta tends to get hard as it cools, so the extra cooking time will help keep it tender and moist.
What to serve this pasta salad alongside? Well, there are more right answers than wrong ones. Chicken, ribs, steaks, burgers and hot dogs, any number of sandwiches, smoked anything, and more. Avoid serving it alongside another pasta-centric main dish or soup, but you're probably mostly okay otherwise. Oh, and if there are leftovers, store them sealed in the refrigerator and toss with a few extra tablespoons of oil and yogurt plus some feta when it's time to serve it again. That pasta is likely to slurp up some of the moisture and want a bit more dressing.
- 16 oz. short pasta (rotini, cavatappi or bow ties), wheat or gluten-free
- 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup plain yogurt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Greek seasoning
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup sliced black olives
- 3 cups diced cucumber
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente, adding an extra minute. Drain and rinse under cold water, drain.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the rice wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, yogurt, garlic powder, Greek seasoning, and kosher salt. Whisk well to combine and form a dressing.
Add the sliced olives and mix to combine. Stir in the pasta along with the cucumber and tomatoes; toss well. Add the feta cheese and stir just before ready to serve.
- Yields: 16 servings
- Preparation Time: 25 minutes