Greek Pasta Salad features marinated chicken, juicy tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, and feta cheese in a tangy dressing!
If you're a fan of loaded pasta salads, you might also enjoy Chicken Berry Pasta Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette, Cobb Pasta Salad, and BLT Pasta Salad!
If you're on the hunt for a colorful, bursting-with-flavor pasta salad -- or if you want to make a big batch for quick meals over the next few days -- I've got you covered! This Greek Pasta Salad with juicy, marinated chicken makes a delicious summer supper. And since it makes a big batch and keeps so well, it's also a great recipe for quick meals over several days.
How to Make Greek Pasta Salad
When devising this recipe, I basically took components of a traditional Greek salad, replacing the base of lettuce with cavatappi (or -- for the non-Italian speakers out there -- corkscrew) pasta. How to do it:
- Whip up a homemade Greek vinaigrette.
- Marinate chicken breasts in in a seasoned yogurt mixture.
- Cook the chicken and boil the pasta.
- Prep the other ingredients.
- Finally, drizzle the dressing over your bowl of Greek goodness. Toss it all together and top with the marinated, cooked, sliced chicken.
Ta-daaaa! You've got one yummy lunch, dinner, or barbecue/picnic/shower/get-together recipe! Flavor explosion, I'm telling you.
Aside from the pasta, the vinaigrette, and the yogurt-marinated chicken breasts, this Greek Pasta Salad is bursting with a variety of fresh, flavorful, colorful ingredients:
- Grape tomatoes. I used a medley of colors, though regular red tomatoes would work just dandy. You could also opt to use larger tomatoes that have been chopped instead.
- Cucumbers. Seedless or baby cucumbers are great, if you've got them. I left the skin on, cut lengthwise down the center, and then sliced into half-moons. However, you may remove the peel from your cucumbers, if you wish, and you can choose to chop them instead of slice.
- Artichoke hearts. I recommend quartered and marinated, though unmarinated will work as well.
- Kalamata olives. Any black olives can be subbed, but Kalamata are the real Greek deal. 😉
- Feta cheese. Just a little bit of this creamy, tangy, crumbled goodness goes a long way.
You may notice that there's one common-to-Greek-salad ingredient missing in this recipe: aesthetically pleasing purple onion slices. Well, those of you who know me well are already aware of the fact that I'm not a fan of onions (to put it mildly), so I left them out of our pasta salad.
That being said, if you like onions, I'm sure they'd contribute even more flavor -- not to mention one of the only colors of the rainbow that's missing from this salad -- so feel free to go for it! Just don't get too heavy-handed, since raw onions can be a bit overpowering, even to those who enjoy them. Half of a medium red onion sliced into very thin rings should be plenty.
So do you have a busy week ahead? Do you adore pasta salad? Do you have an affinity for Greek-inspired ingredients?
If you answered yes to any of the above queries, this zesty Greek Pasta Salad recipe has got your back...and your tastebuds...and your tummy. 🙂
More Tasty Pasta Salads
- Pesto Pasta Salad
- Caprese Orzo Salad
- Tortellini Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Basil, & Fresh Corn
- Tomato Cucumber Pasta Salad with Avocado
Greek Pasta Salad
For the Marinade:
- ½ cup plain yogurt OR Greek yogurt
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Dressing:
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the Pasta Salad:
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 3 medium chicken breasts
- 8 ounces cavatappi (corkscrew pasta)
- 1 tablespoon butter, plus more as needed
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 2 cups (approximately 12 ounces) grape OR cherry tomatoes
- 10 ounces seedless cucumbers, about 3 baby cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise and sliced ¼-inch thick (to make little half moons)
- 1 (12-ounce) jar marinated quartered artichoke hearts
- 1 cup (about 4 to 5 ounces) Kalamata olives
- 6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- In a gallon-sized, freezer-thickness, zip-top plastic bag, combine yogurt, minced garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Zip the top and squish the bag to distribute all of the ingredients.
- In a blender or small food processor, pulse the garlic until minced. Add the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon, oregano, salt, basil, onion powder, garlic powder, sugar, and pepper. Blend or process until well-combined. Stream in the olive oil and blend/process until the dressing is thick and emulsified. Cover and set aside at room temperature.
- Place the chicken breasts in the bag of marinade, zip the bag, and squish/turn it to coat all of the chicken. Lay the bag in a baking dish and place it in the refrigerator to marinate for 4 to 8 hours.
- Once the chicken is marinated, cook the pasta according to package directions in well-salted water. Drain, rinse, and cool.
- Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade, scraping off any excess yogurt, and discard the marinade. Set a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add butter and olive oil and swirl pan to coat. Cook the chicken breasts until deep golden brown on the underside, about 5 to 8 minutes. Flip chicken and cook until the second side is browned and the chicken is cooked through, another 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside on a cutting board to cool.
- Transfer the cooled pasta to a large bowl. Slice the chicken breasts and lay them on top. Scatter the tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, artichoke heart quarters, olives, and feta cheese on top. Drizzle with about ⅔ of the dressing and toss until evenly coated (reserve the remaining ⅓ of the dressing to add just before serving).
- Cover the salad and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and stir in the remaining vinaigrette (to taste).
- The marinade and the dressing contain a lot of the same ingredients, so I like to prepare both of them at the same time while I already have everything out. Then I just store the dressing at room temperature until I'm ready to make the pasta salad.
- I always keep a bottle of pure lemon juice in the fridge (as in, lemon juice is the only ingredient with no added preservatives) and it's a great substitute when I don't have fresh lemons on hand.
- If you wish to bake the chicken breasts instead of sauteeing them, you may bake them at 425°F until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F, which will probably take around 20 minutes.
- If you wish, you may add ½ of a thinly sliced red onion to the pasta salad at the same time as the rest of the veggies.
Originally published May 23, 2016.