This Mediterranean Shell Pasta Salad is full of cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, cucumbers, corn, fire-roasted peppers, green onions, and basil, all harmoniously united by the dressing of olive oil and red wine vinegar.
Why you will love this recipe
Prepare to fall head over heels for this shell pasta salad recipe!
Bursting with Vibrant Flavors: This salad is a full of flavors, with each ingredient bringing its own unique personality to the table. From the juicy sweetness of cherry tomatoes to the tangy bite of feta cheese, the refreshing crunch of cucumber, the subtle sweetness of corn, the smoky intensity of fire-roasted peppers, and the delicate zing of green onions and basil, every bite is a delightful surprise.
While this recipe embraces simplicity, it also presents a delightful twist. The combination of classic ingredients with a touch of unexpected fire-roasted peppers adds a unique and unforgettable flavor profile.
With readily available ingredients and a straightforward method, you can effortlessly create a dish that is visually stunning and bursting with flavors. It's the perfect option for a quick weeknight dinner or a dazzling addition to your potluck spread.
If you love easy pasta salad make sure to try this Orzo Salad.
Medium Shells: The star of the show, these medium-sized pasta shells are perfectly cooked to al dente, providing a tender yet satisfying bite. Their curved shape catches and holds the dressing and ingredients, ensuring each mouthful is a burst of flavor.
Cherry Tomatoes: These small, vibrant red jewels burst with sweetness and add a burst of freshness to the salad.
Feta Cheese: This crumbly, tangy cheese adds a creamy richness and a touch of saltiness to the salad.
Cucumber: Crisp and cool, the cucumber brings a refreshing element to the salad. When cut into cubes, its crunchy texture provides a delightful contrast to the soft pasta shells.
Corn: The sweet kernels provide bursts of natural sweetness to the salad.
Fire-Roasted Peppers: fire-roasted peppers contribute a smoky and slightly charred flavor to the salad.
Green Onion: These slender, mild onions add a subtle oniony flavor and a touch of freshness. When thinly sliced, they provide a delicate crunch and a hint of sharpness, enhancing the overall balance of flavors.
Basil: The fragrant and aromatic herb, known for its distinctive scent, brings a burst of freshness to the salad.
Olive Oil: The smooth and silky texture of the olive oil provides a luscious mouthfeel, while its fruity and slightly peppery notes tie the ingredients together.
Red Wine Vinegar: The tangy and slightly acidic nature of red wine vinegar adds a delightful zing to the dressing. It provides a balance of flavors, brightening up the salad and enhancing its overall taste profile.
See recipe card for quantities
How to make this Salad - Step by Step
Assemble the salad by combining the pasta, the halved cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, cucumber cubes, corn, fire-roasted peppers, and thinly sliced green onions in a large mixing bowl.
Drizzle the olive oil and red wine vinegar over the salad, and mix until all the ingredients are well combined.
As a finale, sprinkle basil, and add a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper to taste.
Here are some helpful tips to enhance your experience while preparing and enjoying the shell pasta salad:
To ensure the pasta maintains a pleasant texture, cook it al dente, which means it should be cooked until it is still slightly firm to the bite. This will prevent it from becoming mushy when combined with the other ingredients.
Selecting fresh and ripe ingredients, especially when it comes to cherry tomatoes and basil, will intensify the flavors of the salad. Look for vibrant tomatoes and fragrant basil leaves to enhance the overall taste experience.
After combining all the ingredients, refrigerate the salad for at least 30 minutes to an hour before serving. This will allow the flavors to meld together and the salad to chill
Give your shell pasta salad a Mediterranean flair by incorporating ingredients like Kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, and crumbled goat cheese. Toss in some fresh oregano and dress it with a lemon vinaigrette for a tangy and vibrant twist.
Caprese Delight: Transform the salad into a Caprese-inspired masterpiece by replacing the feta cheese with fresh mozzarella pearls. Add in cherry tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. This variation offers a delightful harmony of flavors that will transport you to the sun-soaked Italian countryside.
Pesto Paradise: Substitute the traditional dressing with a homemade or store-bought pesto sauce. The aromatic blend of basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil will coat the pasta and vegetables with an irresistible flavor. Add in some toasted pine nuts for extra flavor and crunch.
Place the salad in an airtight container. It is best to consume the salad within 3-4 days of preparation.
Before serving any leftover salad, give it a gentle toss to redistribute the dressing and ensure an even coating.
If the salad appears slightly dry when you're ready to serve the leftovers, you can drizzle a bit of olive oil or additional dressing over it and toss gently to revive the flavors and moisten the ingredients.
This delicious pasta salad will become a summer staple and make the perfect side dish for a backyard barbecue or family reunion.
You can also serve this Mediterranean shell pasta salad as a main dish and adding some cooked chicken would be a great way to add more protein.
Frequently Asked Questions
While the recipe suggests using medium shells, you can certainly experiment with different pasta shapes. Penne, fusilli, or rotini would work well in this salad, as they can hold the dressing and ingredients beautifully.
Yes, you can prepare this salad in advance. The flavors will meld together nicely if refrigerated for 1 hour.
Certainly! This recipe serves as an excellent base, and you can customize it to your liking. Grilled chicken, store-bought rotisserie chicken, shrimp, legumes or even diced salami would make delicious additions, adding protein and an extra layer of flavor to the salad.
Mediterranean Shell Pasta Salad
- 6 cups medium shell pasta
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
- ¾ cup feta cheese
- 1 English cucumber cut into cubes
- 1 can (15oz) corn
- ½ cup fire roasted peppers diced
- 2 green onions thinly sliced
- ¼ cup chopped basil
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Begin by boiling the shells in a large pot of water, generously salted pot until they reach a perfect al dente texture
- Once the shells achieve the desired tenderness, drain them and gently rinse the shells under cold water to halt the cooking process. Set them aside.
- Assemble the salad by combining the pasta, the halved cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, cucumber cubes, corn, fire-roasted peppers, and thinly sliced green onions in a large bowl.
- Drizzle the olive oil and red wine vinegar over the salad, mix until all the ingredients are well combined.
- As a finale, sprinkle basil, and add pinch of salt and a dash of pepper to tate.
- To ensure the pasta maintains a pleasant texture, cook it al dente, which means it should be cooked until it is still slightly firm to the bite. This will prevent it from becoming mushy when combined with the other ingredients
- Selecting fresh and ripe ingredients, especially when it comes to cherry tomatoes and basil, will intensify the flavors of the salad. Look for vibrant tomatoes and fragrant basil leaves to enhance the overall taste experience.