Mediterranean Pasta & Kale Salad with Garlic Basil Dressing

Mediterranean Pasta & Kale Salad with Garlic Basil Dressing

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- Must Love Garlic

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.
Pasta Salad- Must Love Garlic

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.
Mediterranean Pasta Salad- Must Love Garlic

Tips:

  • 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.
Mediterranean Kale Pasta Salad

Recipes You May Also Love:

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!

Close up of Mediterranean Pasta Kale Salad with Parmesan cheese, feta, and sun-dried tomatoes.

Mediterranean Pasta & Kale Salad with Garlic Basil Dressing

Mediterranean Pasta & Kale Salad with Garlic Basil Dressing: fresh kale, chilled pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, and Parmesan.
5 from 12 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cool Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 4 cups

Equipment

  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Medium Mixing Bowl
  • Blender or Food Processor
  • Cheese Grater (if grating Parmesan)
  • Pot (for boiling pasta)

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.
Keyword basil, easy, feta, garlic, kale, parmesan, pasta, salad, sun dried tomatoes
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!


33 thoughts on “Mediterranean Pasta & Kale Salad with Garlic Basil Dressing”

  • 5 stars
    This recipe was delicious! I used a little less garlic and I didn’t have white wine vinegar so I subed it for rice vinegar and it came out great. Will be making again!

  • 5 stars
    So good made this today it was bomb! Didn’t have white wine vinegar used red wine vinegar and still was so good!!! I’ll be making this again!

  • 5 stars
    I didn’t have any feta and didn’t have time to grate any parm .. and it was still amazing! I can’t wait to add in the other things later and try it again.
    The dressing and kale from our garden was delicious! Im sure it will become a staple in our household.

  • This was good! I did add a bit more salt and doubled the dressing because I used a lot of kale. Will make again.

  • Hi there! You mentioned in a previous response that this dressing is more garlic-forward. I haven’t made it yet but was wondering about toning down the garlic by soaking it in some lemon juice. I’d also like to use the lemon juice in the dressing. Do you think this would have any adverse affect on the dressing? Thanks in advance 🙂

    • Hi, Jess! Thank you for your interest! I would probably reduce the amount of white wine vinegar just so it doesn’t become too acidic, but otherwise it should be just fine. Roasted garlic would be a great option too for a less pungent, sweeter flavor. If you try it let me know how it comes out!

  • 5 stars
    LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe! I always make a big batch for meal prepping! It’s also a huge hit for dinner parties! I love the flavor of the sauce more than the Sam’s version, although I do go heavier on the sauce than the recipe says, and I use banza pasta instead of regular rotini. I would love an accurate calorie count for this recipe though!

  • 5 stars
    Amazingly simple to make and wonderful taste! My family loved it, my 12 year old had 3 helpings. This is going in our weekly dinner rotation!

  • 5 stars
    This has to be one of the best salads I’ve ever had and normally I’m not a big fan of kale. It’s restaurant quality, company worthy, but so easy to make. It’s just delicious and my whole family loved it! I did leave the feta out of my husband’s salad as he won’t eat feta, but it’s even great w/o the feta! Huge win!

  • Hello,
    This recipe looks fantastic, but I have a question before making it later this week. The recipe calls for “1 cup” of pasta, is this correct or should it be 1 pound of pasta?
    Thank you

    • Hi, KJ. 1 cup of dry pasta is correct, because it expands as it cooks. The recipe card is set to make 4 cups total, but if you’re looking to make a larger portion you can hover your mouse over where it says “Servings”. A slider bar will pop up where you can adjust the final amount. I hope this helps and that you love the recipe!

  • 5 stars
    I made it. I tripled the recipe. Things I learned. It is delicious. Chop the kale small. I thought I did but it definitely needed to be smaller. It needed a little more dressing then I made and some extra pasta. That’s just personal preference really. But honestly it was amazing and I’m glad I found the recipe ❤️

    • Absolutely! Spinach is one of my favorite greens to use for pasta salads. The only thing to keep in mind is that spinach wilts quite a bit faster than kale if you are meal prepping or planning to have leftovers. Otherwise it will still taste great! I hope you enjoy it, Jen!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating