Greek Pasta Salad features marinated chicken, juicy tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, and feta cheese in a tangy dressing!
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
- Caprese Orzo Salad
- Tortellini Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Basil, & Fresh Corn
- Cobb Pasta Salad
- Tomato Cucumber Pasta Salad with Avocado
- Easy Pasta Salad
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:
- 2 medium cloves garlic
- 5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1.5 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- ¾ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 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, drained
- 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, 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.