Quite simply, this salad is a combination of some of my very favorite things in life. Pasta, fresh lemon, olives, roasted sweet tomatoes, basil, chickpeas, feta cheese, crushed red pepper flakes… stop! I can’t handle it! So much good stuff in one simple dish. It’s got layers and layers of flavor– salty, spicy, sweet, nutty. And with that lemon juice and freshly cut basil topping the whole thing off, it smells like a Mediterranean summer.
The roasted cherry tomatoes really take this dish to another level. Roasting the tomatoes brings out their natural sweetness and makes them super juicy. Those of you with gardens probably have more tomatoes on hand than you know what to do with right about now. Pan roasting these little guys is a great way to extend their shelf life; you can keep them covered in a sealed plastic container for up to five days after roasting.
No step-by-step pictures here, because this salad is simple as can be. It would make a perfect addition to a summer buffet or cookout. These are a few of my favorite things… Enjoy!
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Pasta Salad Ingredients
- 4 cups dry bowtie pasta
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes or heirloom cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- 1 cup chickpeas, cooked or canned and drained
- 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/3 cup sliced ripe green olives
- 1/4 cup basil, chopped or chiffonade cut
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (if spice sensitive, use 1/4 tsp)
- Heaping 1/4 tsp salt
- Cook the pasta according to directions on the box to desired tenderness. Drain, rinse with cool water till pasta is room temperature. Reserve.
- Heat a medium saute pan over medium heat and toast the pinenuts, stirring frequently, until golden brown and fragrant. Reserve pinenuts in a small dish; keep the pan on medium heat.
- In a small bowl, combine tomatoes, olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt and pinch of black pepper. Toss to combine, then add the tomatoes to the hot pan you toasted the pinenuts in. Give them a shake occasionally and cook over medium heat until blistered, about 10 minutes.
- Whisk together dressing ingredients till well combined.
- In a large salad bowl, combine all ingredients except tomatoes with the dressing, tossing to make sure all ingredients are well coated. Add the roasted tomatoes last-- gently stir them in, they will be very soft and delicate. Add more salt to taste, if desired-- careful, the olives and feta are pretty salty on their own!
- Serve at room temperature or chilled.