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This quick, easy vegan pasta salad is loaded with fresh, bright, vibrant Mediterranean vegetables and a tangy vinaigrette. A fresh, crowd-pleasing summery Mediterranean pasta salad for BBQs, potlucks, picnics, and mid-week meals!

completed Mediterranean Vegan Pasta Salad plated against a white surface
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Simple and Nutritious Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Quick and easy pasta dishes are a satisfying, crowd-pleasing go-to for low-budget families everywhere no matter the time of year. However, during the warmer summer months, we love light, simple options like pesto pasta and vibrant summer-friendly vegan pasta salad recipes packed with vibrant flavors, nutrients, and textures.

You can pull together an easy vegan pasta salad in no time and pack it with cost-effective, fresh, tasty mix-ins for a nutritious, filling, meal-prep friendly meal. They’re super customizable to what’s in season and what you have on hand, too! For example, this version is a cold Mediterranean pasta salad recipe, loaded with olives, onion, bell pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, chickpeas, and a vibrant vinaigrette.

You might enjoy our lemon-garlic Mediterranean quinoa salad, Southwest Quinoa salad, Mediterranean pearl couscous salad, or orzo chickpea salad.

The Ingredients and Substitutes

ingredients for Mediterranean Vegan Pasta Salad measured out against a white surface
  • Pasta: It’s best to use small pasta shapes with lots of ridges to cling to the dressing. I.e., fusilli, rotini, penne, bowtie, etc. However, orzo and giant couscous will also work. You could even make a Mediterranean tortellini salad.
  • Vegetable broth: (or salted water). Use regular or reduced-sodium broth.
  • Vegetables: This Mediterranean pasta salad combines:
    • Red onion (or shallots)
    • Cucumber (use thin-peel, low-seed English or Persian cucumbers)
    • Cherry tomatoes/baby plum tomatoes (or larger tomatoes, chopped)
    • Bell pepper (Red/orange for a sweeter flavor or green for bitter)
    • Black olives (or kalamata olives)
  • Chickpeas: (Garbanzo beans) or white beans, like cannellini/ butter beans, add fiber and plant-based protein to this recipe for Mediterranean pasta salad.

The Vegan Pasta Salad Dressing

  • Olive oil: It’s best to use extra-virgin olive oil with a mild flavor.
  • Lemon: Fresh lemon juice is best, and adds a wonderfully bright, tangy flavor.
  • Balsamic vinegar: (or red wine vinegar/apple cider vinegar) will add slightly sweet and tangy depth to the dressing.
  • Fresh parsley: This adds a wonderful herby freshness. Basil and/or green onions would also work well.
  • Salt & black pepper: To season to taste.

For more flavor: Optionally add a small amount of fresh garlic (or garlic powder), dried herbs (like dried oregano, basil, or Italian seasoning), red pepper flakes for heat, mustard for zingy heat, and/or maple syrup or agave to balance the acidity.  

What Could I Add to A Vegan Cold Pasta Salad?

  • Roasted Mediterranean vegetables: Replace or add to the salad vegetables with roasted veggies like bell pepper, zucchini, and eggplant.
  • Other vegetables: canned artichoke hearts, steamed broccoli, fresh zucchini, shredded carrot, mange tout, corn, or spinach/kale work particularly well.
  • Avocado: Adds creaminess, antioxidants, and healthy fats. Add when serving.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes: Instead of fresh tomatoes, for robust, concentrated flavor.
  • Vegan cheese: This Mediterranean pasta salad recipe pairs particularly with creamy vegan feta cheese, but vegan mozzarella or cheddar are delicious, too.
  • Nuts/seeds: For added crunch, protein, and heart-healthy fats. I.e., pine nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, etc. Only add them when serving.
  • Tofu/tempeh: To add more plant-based protein for a heartier healthy vegan pasta salad recipe. Marinated works best.

How To Make Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Keep scrolling to the recipe card for the complete list of ingredients and recipe instructions.

  • 1) First, cook the pasta in the vegetable broth (or salted water) according to the package instructions but minus 1-2 minutes, until al dente. Then drain it well and set the pasta aside to cool.

For quick cooling, toss a small amount of oil with the pasta, then spread it across a large tray OR rinse it under cold water.

  • 2) Meanwhile, prepare the Mediterranean vegetables by finely dicing the red onion, bell pepper, and cucumber, and halving the cherry tomatoes.
  • 3) Also, juice the lemon and combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
  • 4) Combine all the Mediterranean pasta salad ingredients in a large serving bowl and toss well to combine.

For the most flavorful vegan Mediterranean pasta salad, add a portion of the dressing to the pasta while it’s still slightly warm. Add the rest once the pasta is cool.

  • 5) Leave it to rest for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to meld. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Notes and Tips

  • Prepare the pasta in advance: To allow it to cool before adding the remaining ingredients. Rinse the pasta under cold water to cool it quickly.
  • Cook the pasta al dente: But only slightly, so the pasta doesn’t become soggy as it sits but doesn’t firm up too much when chilled. 1-2 minutes less than the package instructions is usually the sweet spot.  
  • For quicker prep: Use a mandoline or food chopper to help chop the various veggies quickly with minimal effort.
  • Partially dress the salad while warm: Pasta absorbs dressing more while warm. For the perfect blend of flavor without the dressing completely disappearing, we add ½ the dressing while it’s warm and the remainder once cool.
  • Experiment with the veggies and addins: This vegan/ dairy-free pasta salad is perfect for clearing out the fridge at the end of the week and experimenting with what you have on hand. Ensure you include a variety of color, flavor (sweet, fresh, tangy), and texture for the most satisfying and best vegan pasta salad.

FAQs

Can I substitute the pasta?

It’s possible to make a similar Mediterranean grain salad with ingredients like giant couscous, orzo, or quinoa.

Can you make Mediterranean pasta salad in advance?

Yes, we actually highly recommend preparing Mediterranean pasta salad at least a couple of hours in advance to allow the flavors to meld.

Can I make vegan gluten-free pasta salad?

Yes, use a gluten-free pasta if preferred and adjust the cooking time accordingly. Gluten-free pasta tends to not store as well and is best when brought back to room temperature.

Can I enjoy this Mediterranean pasta recipe warm?

This vegan pasta salad is best served chilled or at room temperature due to the inclusion of fresh salad veggies.

completed Mediterranean Vegan Pasta Salad plated against a white surface

What To Serve With Vegan Pasta Salad?

You can enjoy this Mediterranean pasta salad as a side salad or light main (lunch or dinner) at potlucks, picnics, BBQs, or for a quick family-friendly meal, alongside:

Storage Instructions

Leftover Mediterranean chickpea pasta salad stores well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days total, though it’s best in the first 3 days, for the freshest, crispest vegetables.

Optionally, leave a small amount of the dressing to one side to liven up the summer veggie pasta salad between servings.

More Hearty Salad Recipes

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

completed Mediterranean Vegan Pasta Salad plated against a white surface

Mediterranean Vegan Pasta Salad

5 from 51 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Cool: 30 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
This quick, easy vegan pasta salad is loaded with fresh, bright, vibrant Mediterranean vegetables and a tangy vinaigrette. A fresh, crowd-pleasing summery Mediterranean pasta salad for BBQs, potlucks, picnics, and mid-week meals!

Ingredients 

  • 1 (16-ounce) package of pasta
  • 1 cup of sliced and halved cucumbers
  • 1 cup of halved cherry tomatoes
  • ¾ cup of diced red onion
  • ½ cup of diced green bell pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of minced curly parsley
  • 1 (2.25-ounce) can of sliced black olives drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of garbanzo beans
  • cup of olive oil
  • ⅛ to ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • In a medium pot over medium-high heat, cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
  • While the pasta cooks, combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix them together.
  • Add the cooked pasta and thoroughly combine. Allow to cool in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Video

Notes

  • Prepare the pasta in advance: To allow it to cool before adding the remaining ingredients. Rinse the pasta under cold water to cool it quickly.
  • Cook the pasta al dente: But only slightly, so the pasta doesn’t become soggy as it sits but doesn’t firm up too much when chilled. 1-2 minutes less than the package instructions is usually the sweet spot.  
  • For quicker prep: Use a mandoline or food chopper to help chop the various veggies quickly with minimal effort.

Nutrition

Calories: 716kcalCarbohydrates: 123gProtein: 26gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gSodium: 283mgPotassium: 815mgFiber: 14gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 1136IUVitamin C: 45mgCalcium: 110mgIron: 5mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: Toni Okamoto
Course: Side
Cuisine: American
Method: Stovetop
Diet: Vegan
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
About

Toni Okamoto

“They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
‘Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways…
we got to start taking better care of ourselves ” – Dead Prez

More about Toni Okamoto

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Excellent for meal prep. I love it cold! Such an easy and yummy way to get in more veggies without a lot of fuss 🙂