I wasn’t looking for a salad recipe when I found this delicious looking greek pasta salad. I was looking for easy throw-together breakfast meals for my husband’s early morning routine. When I saw this I couldn’t resist trying it. The original author’s recipe contained chicken and since I prefer cooking mostly vegetarian, if not vegan, I decided to adapt it to fit my lifestyle and health goals. It tastes amazing and I love the rich colors. I made one batch that filled a large serving bowl and it evaporated over the course of one evening.
Boil the Water
The first thing I did was put water in a medium-size pot on the stove. Set the burner to medium or high heat and bring it to a boil. Add a bit of olive oil and salt to the water to flavor the pasta. The measurements don’t have to be exact. I use approximately a couple tablespoons of oil and a teaspoon of salt. Don’t overdo it on that last one.
Select a Protein
I use two kinds of beans for this recipe: white beans and garbanzo beans. If you have loads of time, feel free to cook them from dry beans in advance. I’m a bit lazy and just use canned beans. 14.5 ounces of each does the trick. Some people rinse them, some people don’t. Your choice.
Cut the Vegetables
While the water is heating up, start preparing your vegetables. I chop up a bell pepper, removing the seeds and core. I prefer orange, red or yellow peppers as they help the dish look appetizing, but a green one works fine too. Dice up half of a standard-size cucumber and halve about a cup of cherry tomatoes. The quantity doesn’t have to be exact. Make it the way you like it. I always overdo it on the tomatoes because I love the beautiful colors.
Cook the Pasta
If the water is boiling, add the pasta and stir it up a bit. The goal is to hopefully coat most of the pasta in a bit of the oil, that way it won’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Cover and lower the heat a bit. If you need a timer, set it for the time written on the pasta box.
Prepare the Dressing
While the pasta cooks, I begin preparing the dressing. Mince the fresh oregano leaves and three medium or large garlic cloves. Some people use a garlic press. I keep it simple with a cutting board and a sharp chef knife like this one. The short blade makes the knife easier to control. Watch your fingers.
In a small dish, combine the garlic and oregano with a quarter cup of olive oil and a quarter cup of water. Add about a quarter teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper and a half teaspoon of salt. Get out your zester and grate the outside of one lemon until you have a generous pinch. Add the zest to the dressing mixture and stir it up.
Serve the Meal
Once the pasta is done, pour it into a strainer in the sink. Rinse it with cold water for several minutes. Combine the pasta, beans, vegetables and salad dressing in a large serving dish. Top with a bit of cilantro for garnish. If you find a good feta cheese substitute, or if you feel like having the real thing, go ahead and add that too. I ran out of time. I had to cut my shopping trip short. No feta for me. The salad still tastes great without it!