Ina Garten’s pasta salad is a hearty and refreshing dish that’ll quickly make any meal special.
Loaded with tomatoes, feta, and olives, it’s tasty all year.
I’m not a huge fan of salads. But throw some pasta in the mix, and I’m instantly hooked.
There’s just something about al dente pasta with crunchy greens and colorful veggies that make a meal pop.
And it doesn’t get any better than Ina Garten’s tomato feta pasta salad recipe. Serve it with chicken, fish, or even steak, and you won’t be disappointed.
Heck, serve Ina Garten’s pasta salad at every BBQ this summer, and you’ll never get bored!
Ina Garten’s Tomato Feta Pasta Salad Recipe
Ina Garten’s pasta salad features a colorful mix of pasta, vegetables, and feta cheese finished off with a flavorful olive oil dressing.
And the best part is, you can follow the recipe to a tee or customize it to your own liking.
For example, sometimes I like to throw leftover rotisserie chicken in there for extra protein. And if I’ve got some extra corn lying around, that goes in too.
Plus, it’s super easy to make. Prep is ahead, or serve it fresh – it’s delish either way.
- Olive Oil – the success of this recipe depends on good quality olive oil. If you use plain old canola, it’ll be pretty disappointing.
- Olives – I like to use kalamata olives for this. Get them whole and slice them yourself or get ones that are already pitted and sliced to save on time.
- Tomatoes – the freshest you can get. Use Roma, cherry, heirloom, or grape tomatoes.
- Pasta – use short pasta shells with lots of nooks and crannies to get more dressing in every bite. Fusilli, rotini, and bowties all make good options.
- Feta – or any salty, crumbled cheese. If you like a lighter flavor, use mozzarella balls or goat cheese.
How to Make Ina Garten’s Pasta Salad
1. Cook the pasta according to the package – to al dente.
Just follow what it says at the back of the box, and you’ll never go wrong!
Be sure to salt the water and add a splash of olive oil to it. Then, drain the pasta, let it cool, and place it in a large salad bowl.
2. Chop the vegetables and crumble the feta.
Using a sharp knife, slice the fresh tomatoes, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes. You’ll want the tomatoes to be roughly the same size for an easy bite.
If you’re using a block of feta cheese (which I highly recommend), crumble it with your hands.
3. Make the dressing.
Add the sun-dried tomatoes, red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic cloves, capers, salt, and pepper to a food processor.
Blend the ingredients until they form a smooth dressing.
4. Assemble the salad.
Add the veggies and cheese to the bowl of pasta. Pour in the dressing and sprinkle with Parmesan and parsley.
Toss everything together until it’s well-coated with dressing. Serve and enjoy!
Tips For the Best Tomato Feta Pasta Salad
- The most important thing is to use good-quality ingredients, especially the olive oil, olives, and feta cheese. Since there are so few ingredients overall, you’ll really taste the difference.
- You’ll be chopping a lot for this salad, so be sure to have a sharp knife on hand. When chopping the vegetables, try to make them into uniform sizes for the perfect bite.
- Instead of buying crumbled feta, crumble it yourself. Those bags of crumbled feta are loaded with preservatives and are also more expensive.
- Cook the pasta to al dente for a nice, firm chew. If you go too far, the whole dish will taste mushy.
- Grease the pasta with a little bit of olive oil to keep it from absorbing too much of the dressing. That way, it’ll stay firm even after a few days in the fridge.
Tomato Feta Pasta Salad Variations
This pasta salad is already pretty hearty with all the mixins. But feel free to add more or swap out ingredients if you like.
Here are some of my recommendations:
- Pasta: swap out fusilli for rotini, penne, or bowtie. Any pasta shape with lots of nooks and crannies will work well here. But try to avoid anything too small as it’ll make it difficult to eat.
- Cheese: mozzarella, blue cheese, and goat cheese all work well and complement the other ingredients. That said, if you use something strong (like blue cheese), you might want to mellow it with a milder cheese (try half and half).
- Vegetables: throw in some cucumber, bell peppers, onions, or artichoke hearts, and it’ll be even more filling and delicious.
- Protein: shredded chicken, ham cubes, crabmeat, bacon crumbles, salami, chickpeas – you name it!
- Herbs: I enjoy a mix of parsley, oregano, and basil.
How to Store Ina Garten’s Pasta Salad
As mentioned, you can easily make this dish ahead to save time on prep.
Just follow the recipe, transfer the whole lot to an airtight container, and refrigerate for 5 to 7 days.
If the salad dries out, simply mix in 2 tablespoons of good-quality olive oil to rehydrate it.
Alternatively, you can chop the ingredients and make the dressing, then store everything separately. Then, make the pasta when you need it and mix to serve.
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