With warmer weather just around the corner, it’s time for something refreshing in our bellies.
This easy Mediterranean Pasta & Kale Salad with Garlic Basil Dressing is loaded with fresh kale, tender chilled pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, and shredded Parmesan, with an herby, tangy dressing.
It’s perfect for picnics and for when you need something lighter but still comforting.
Mediterranean Pasta Salad Ingredients:
- Pasta– I used Rotini but use your favorite kind! Something with grooves or spirals works great for catching all of the dressing. Some of my favorites are Radiatori, Fusilli, or Cavatappi.
- Fresh Kale– a dark leafy green, packed with vitamins.
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes– dry or packed in oil. Dry sun-dried tomatoes have the texture of dried fruit and a bit more chew . The packed in oil version is a bit more tender.
- Crumbled Feta Cheese– feta cheese is a Greek brined white cheese made with sheep or goat milk. It is rich and salty with a slight tang.
- Shredded Parmesan Cheese
For Garlic & Basil Dressing:
- Fresh Basil– fresh basil is sweet and peppery
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- White Wine Vinegar– for a bit of acid. This is important in balancing the flavors and giving the salad a ‘zesty’ quality.
- Garlic Cloves
- Salt & Pepper
Substitutions & Serving Suggestions:
- Not a fan of tomatoes? Try substituting roasted red peppers. They can often be found in jars near the pasta of most grocery stores.
- Kale isn’t your thing? Try switching it out for a different leafy green such as spinach or arugula.
- Don’t have a blender/food processor to make dressing? Try using jarred pesto instead.
- Need a substitute for the white wine vinegar? Red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice all work well.
- Try adding Protein! This salad works great with some shredded rotisserie chicken.
How to Make Mediterranean Pasta Salad:
- Cook Pasta:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt to the water before adding pasta. As the pasta cooks, it absorbs some of the water, so adding salt also adds flavor to the noodles as well as keeping them from sticking together.
- Add the pasta to pot and cook according to the directions on the package. Drain pasta and allow to cool slightly before mixing into salad. It’s ok if it’s still a bit warm, just not hot.
- Make Dressing:
- De-stem and add fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, garlic cloves, and salt & pepper to a food processor or high-powered blender. Run on high until ingredients are fully blended. Taste dressing to check for desired saltiness.
- Refrigerate dressing until ready to use.
- Mix Salad:
- Add a touch of oil to roughly chopped kale and gently massage leaves between fingers for 1-2 minutes. This tenderizes the kale.
- Add kale, sun dried tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, shredded Parmesan cheese, and pasta to a medium mixing bowl. Pour dressing over salad and toss to fully combine.
- Cover bowl in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
- Before making dressing, give the fresh basil leaves a quick rinse to remove any dirt or bugs. Pat dry with paper towels.
- Massage kale in between fingers with a bit of extra virgin olive oil for 1-2 minutes before adding to salad. This will tenderize the leaves and decrease some of the bitterness.
Recipes You May Also Love:
- White Bean & Couscous Tabbouleh Salad– fresh vegetables, creamy white beans, tangy feta cheese crumbles, and soft garlic couscous.
- Easy Roasted Garlic Hummus– a beautiful silky puree of chickpeas topped with slightly sweet, buttery roasted garlic.
- Grilled Sweet Pepper Panzanella with Whipped Feta– grilled bread salad with herby marinated grilled sweet peppers, paired with a salted honey whipped feta.
If you try this recipe, please leave a star rating and review in the recipe card below! I always appreciate your feedback. Follow me on Instagram and Pinterest for more garlic goodness and travel inspiration!
Mediterranean Pasta & Kale Salad with Garlic Basil Dressing
- Cutting Board
- Medium Mixing Bowl
- Blender or Food Processor
- Cheese Grater (if grating Parmesan)
- Pot (for boiling pasta)
- 1 cup pasta
- 2 cups kale roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes
- 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
For Garlic Basil Dressing :
- 1/2 cup fresh basil stems removed
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2-2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 3 cloves fresh garlic
- 1/4-1/2 tsp salt
- Fresh cracked pepper
- Cook Pasta: bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain pasta and allow to cool slightly before mixing into salad.
- Make Dressing: add all dressing ingredients to a food processor or blender. Run on high until ingredients are fully blended. Taste dressing and add more salt if needed. Refrigerate dressing until ready to use.
- Mix Salad: add a touch of oil to roughly chopped kale and gently massage leaves between fingers for 1-2 minutes to tenderize. Add kale, sun dried tomatoes, feta, parmesan, and pasta to a medium mixing bowl. Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.