Mediterranean Pasta Salad

 

This salad packs a lot of interesting flavors into each bite. From the peppery taste of fresh arugula to the salty appeal of Kalamata olives and Feta cheese, there is nothing bland or boring about this dish. Yet, its strong flavors aren’t overwhelming because they are tempered by the satisfying addition of penne pasta. This robust salad can be served as a satisfying main course or as a hearty side dish for grilled chicken or sautéed fish.

 

Tip: Prepare the lemon vinaigrette in advance to give the flavors a chance to fully develop.

 

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 12-15 minutes

Serves: 4-6

 

Lemon Vinaigrette Ingredients:

 

½ c. extra virgin olive oil

2 T. white balsamic vinegar

2 T. fresh lemon juice

1 t. fresh lemon zest, preferably organic

1 large clove garlic, finely minced

1 T. Dijon mustard

1-2 T. honey, preferably local

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

 

Remaining Ingredients:

 

1 16-oz. box penne pasta

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

2-3 large cloves garlic, minced

1-pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

2 c. fresh arugula

12-15 large fresh basil leaves, sliced thin

1/3 c. Kalamata olives, chopped

3 T. Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

3 oz. Feta cheese, roughly chopped

 

Garnish: additional arugula leaves, sprigs of fresh basil, and grated Parmesan cheese

 

 

Directions:

 

Prepare the pasta according to package directions until just al dente. Drain, rinse and set aside.

 

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the vinaigrette by combining all ingredients in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and shake vigorously until emulsified. Set aside. (Or prepare in advance and store in the refrigerator until ready to use).

 

Add olive oil and garlic to a skillet set over medium heat. Sauté for approximately 1-2 minutes, or just until the garlic develops some color.

 

Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or just until the tomatoes are warmed through. Remove from heat and stir in the fresh arugula. Set aside.

 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the warm tomato and arugula mixture with the fresh basil and Kalamata olives. Add the warm-cooked penne pasta and both types of cheese. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste, and drizzle with 3 tablespoons of lemon vinaigrette. Toss to combine.

 

Transfer the pasta salad to a large serving bowl and garnish with some fresh arugula, sprigs of basil, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately with the remaining vinaigrette on the side. Enjoy!

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