Easy Greek Pasta Salad

One of my favorite meals to make and eat during the hot days of summer is a cold, veggie pasta salad. This dish is so simple and easy to make ahead of time for delicious lunches and dinners throughout the week.

Some of my favorite pasta salads to whip up are up pesto pastas with fresh basil and cilantro from the farm, simple pastas drizzled with olive oil and balsamic covered with fresh, sautéed, seasonal veggies, and now, this Greek Pasta salad from my mom's recipe collection.

My mom, sister, and I recently hopped on Zoom to have a cooking date together. My mom chose this dish because it is so simple, so delicious, and so versatile! You can mix and match your toppings, add a little more here and a little less there, depending on what you like. It's great hot or cold so you can really enjoy this deliciousness year round.

Here's the recipe. Enjoy!

Illustration depicting the ingredients used to make an easy Greek pasta salad.
"Greek Pasta Salad," Illustration by Liz Brindley, 2020

Ingredients: 

For the Pasta:

1 package Penne Pasta

(The following don’t have exact amounts because it is totally up to you. If you really like olives you can put lots in. If you don’t want a lot of onions, use a few or none at all. This is the choose your own adventure version of cooking! I would generally say that if you like the ingredient, use a cup). 

Pitted Kalamata olives, cut in half

Cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Green onions, sliced into thin rounds (alternatively, you could use a red onion, diced)

Feta cheese, crumbled (my favorite in New Mexico is the Tucumcari feta. If you're vegan, just sub vegan feta cheese. I enjoy the Violife Feta Block).

Artichoke hearts, chopped (I use one can)

1 package of tempeh, cut into small squares.

For the Tempeh Marinade:

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar 

2 cloves crushed garlic

1/4 cup water or veggie broth, or enough liquid to cover the tempeh (the broth will add more flavor, but water works in a pinch)

Salt, pepper, dried oregano, and dried thyme to taste.  

For the Dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar 

2 cloves crushed garlic

Salt, pepper, dried oregano, and dried thyme to taste. 

 

Process:

You could cook everything all at once in the evening before dinner, though I like to start a couple of easy steps in the morning to make the dinner process a breeze. You down for that? Goes like this:

In the AM:

  1. Cook your pasta according to package directions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, fill another small pot with water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer. Toss in your chopped squares of tempeh and simmer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, drain the water off of the tempeh. (This step is optional, but it does reduce the bitterness of the tempeh and allows it to seep up more of the yummy marinade flavors).
  3. While your pasta and tempeh are cookin' away, mix together your vinaigrette ingredients. I love to mix vinaigrettes in a pint size mason jar because you can easily put the lid on and shake it all up!
  4. Once your pasta is cooked, drain the water off in a colander and rinse the cooked noodles with cold water. The rinsing helps the noodles not stick together when you pop them in the fridge.
  5. Place your noodles back into the pot in which you cooked them (if it has a lid) or into a container with a lid. Pour the vinaigrette over the noodles and stir with a wooden spoon to get an even layer. Taste a few noodles to make sure you like the amount of seasonings. When happy, place lid on top.
  6. Make the tempeh marinade. Whisk together ingredients in a bowl that is large enough to hold the tempeh (ideally a bowl with a lid. Or, just use a plate to cover the bowl!). Place the tempeh squares into the marinade and toss with a spoon to coat evenly.
  7. Pop your pasta and tempeh (in the marinade) into the fridge.

In the PM:

  1. Cook the tempeh in a cast-iron or non-stick pan. Preheat the pan over medium heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Place the squares of tempeh into the oiled pan into a single layer (as close as you can get). Cook each side until browned, flipping occasionally, and pouring marinade over the tempeh as you turn it. This should only take around 10 minutes or so total.
  2. Chop all of the other ingredients.
  3. Toss all ingredients, including the browned tempeh, into the chilled pasta.
  4. Serve with a side salad, crusty bread, or all on its own.
  5. Enjoy!

Pasta will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

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