Greek Pasta Salad With Chickpeas and Herbs

Greek Pasta Salad With Chickpeas and Herbs

As we reach the peak of summer, there aren’t many of us who relish the idea of slaving away in front of a hot stove in an already too-hot kitchen, with the oven blasting and multiple pots of who-knows-what burbling away on the stovetop, billowing steam into the humid air. Instead, our summertime cooking projects tend to be lighter, a little bit easier and packed with the foods that are going to energize our busy days … whether we’re rushing to contribute a side dish for a family cookout or eating a quick bowlful of something delicious while standing over the sink, on our way out the door.

“Pasta salad” may not spring to the front of mind when planning quick-and-easy (as well as moderately healthy) summertime meals, but its reputation as a gloppy, mayonnaise-heavy forgotten side dish is undeserved. Pasta salads like this one present an opportunity to pack big pops of flavor into an (almost) no-cook dish that’s easy to prepare, gorgeous to look at and infinitely customizable with whatever you’ve got on hand.

For our Greek-inspired version, we substitute orzo pasta for those big, sluggy pasta shapes of yesteryear, which soak up our homemade dressing perfectly without feeling too heavy. Kalamata olives, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and feta round out the Greek theme, with a big handful of chickpeas to add substance, body and a heaping helping of nutrition. Chickpeas are a nutrient-dense bean high in dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, potassium and iron and, according to the National Institutes of Health, may even inhibit cell proliferation in some types of cancer.

Healthier Greek Pasta Salad With Chickpeas and Herbs

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the pasta salad:

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded, diced
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 2 cups English cucumber, peeled (if desired), chopped
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted pepitas
  • 6 to 8 oz feta cheese

Directions:

For the dressing:

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor, and puree until well combined. Set aside while you assemble the pasta salad.

For the pasta salad:

Cook orzo according to package directions, drain and let cool slightly. Transfer to a large bowl, and add remaining ingredients. Coat with dressing, and toss until combined and well-coated. Chill and serve.