It’s salad! It’s pasta! It’s Salad Pasta Salad.
Every once in a while, I throw some ingredients together and something really, really good results. I invented this salad-slash-pasta a few weeks ago, and have made it twice since. Part pasta, part salad, and 100% fresh and delicious, I call it “Salad Pasta Salad” because it is the best of both worlds. Tossed with great additions like fresh basil, briny feta, lemon, and toasted breadcrumbs for crunch, Salad Pasta Salad with Feta feeds a crowd and is ready in 20 minutes.
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All About This Recipe
There are two cooked components going on in this recipe for salad pasta salad with feta. There is the pasta, and the breadcrumbs. Both take no time to make, and are important components to the overall dish.
Toasted breadcrumbs are often used in Italian cooking as a garnishing texture or flavor, a substitute for grated cheese. Heat some olive oil in a pan, and add your plain breadcrumbs, minced parsley, and a good pinch of salt. Then cook, stirring often, until the breadcrumbs are toasted and golden brown.
The pasta adds a level of bulk and, frankly, satisfaction that regular green salad sometimes cannot. Add briny feta, fresh basil, ripe tomatoes, and a little fresh lemon juice and zest, and you have a fantastic summer side dish that may just overshadow the main course.
This salad is best served warm or at room temperature. Even if you add the pasta while hot, the arugula will stand up to the heat and should not wilt very much, if at all. Cold pasta tends to lose its chewy texture, as well as flavor, and become unappetizingly hard and bland.
Finally, taste for seasoning. The feta and pasta will add salt, but you may want to add a little more to the overall dish. And arugula is known for its peppery taste, but you should still add some fresh black pepper to gild this lilly.
Salad Pasta Salad With Feta
- 8 oz. small- to medium-shaped pasta, such as ditalini or pennette
- 1 pound grape tomatoes, halved
- 3 large handfuls arugula
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 lemon, juice and zest
- 4 ounces fresh Greek feta, crumbled (about 1 generous cup)
- 1/2 cup loosely-packed basil leaves, sliced thin
- 1/2 cup plain fresh breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup loosely-packed Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped fine
- kosher salt and black pepper
- Cook the pasta in generously-salted water until al dente. Drain.
- While the pasta is cooking, make the breadcrumbs. Heat three tablespoons of the olive oil in a sautée pan. Add the breadcrumbs, parsley, and a generous pinch of salt. Cook over medium, stirring often, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- In a large bowl, combine the arugula, basil, tomatoes, feta, lemon juice, zest, a pinch of salt, some fresh pepper, and the remaining olive oil. Toss to combine. Add the past and breadcrumbs. Toss once more and serve immediately.
- To garnish, drizzle with olive oil and top with any of the salad ingredients, such as feta or tomatoes.