I wasn’t planning on photographing yesterday’s lunch but it was too delicious and I just had to share. I will be making this again and again and again. Full of veggies and crunchy almonds and tossed with a super light lemon zest dressing, this pasta salad won’t weigh you down!
This takes minutes to prepare, really. Boil water. Turn on the grill. Cook the noodles. Whisk the dressing while the noodles cook. Throw seasoned chicken (instructions below) on the grill. Slice your veggies. Toss everything in one big bowl. Sprinkle with really good feta cheese – and I mean the nice block kind. It makes a huge difference, trust me. The lemon zest adds a lot so don’t skip it!
I served this with sliced grilled chicken and I suppose a better blogger would have added that to the salad to photograph it. However, I made this pasta salad to eat all week and the chicken will only be good for a couple of days. I always therefore reserve chicken to add to individual portions so I can keep eating the rest of the pasta all week. Heck, I can even grill more chicken mid-week! Call it a life hack if you want, but it makes the most sense to me so no noodle goes to waste.
Spinach Feta Pasta Salad
8 oz mostaccioli or penne pasta
1/4 cup lemon juice (a large lemon)
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt, pepper, zest of half a lemon (Meyer lemon if they’re in season!)
4 oz (half bag) baby spinach, stems removed
1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
8 oz feta cheese block, crumbled
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/3 cup sliced almonds
Grilled chicken, see note below
- Cook pasta al dente according to package instructions. Drain.
- Whisk together 1/4 freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/4 extra virgin olive oil, zest of half a lemon, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Toss pasta with dressing. Let sit for ten minutes or so. Stir in remaining ingredients. Serve with sliced chicken breast if desired. Chill at least an hour.
Perfect thyme grilled chicken: Rinse and pat chicken breast cutlets dry. (If you have breasts instead of cutlets, slice each piece in half for thinner, faster cooking chicken cutlets.) Season well with paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, dried thyme, lemon sea salt, and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and rub it all together. Grill for 5 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Pro tip: If you aren’t serving a crowd, don’t stir in the chicken. Reserve it and add it to individual servings. The pasta salad will last a week in the fridge without chicken.
About the Wine
I’m counting this as Wine with Wendy post because I packed this pasta salad up for a picnic with my horse Wendy on Sunday. I had a gorgeous bottle of San Martino Winery cabernet sauvignon leftover from my birthday celebration at the vineyard the night before and just had to take it on a picnic. I headed out to Black Star Sport Horses for my dream Sunday: horses, pasta, cake, roses, wine, a floppy hat, a book, and perfect weather. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky!
San Martino makes amazing wine and just so happens to be located in my cute little town just twenty minutes east of Dallas. The owner’s family has been making wine in Spain for six hundred years so he knows a thing or two about great wine. My friend Matt and I split this bottle of 2014 cabernet sauvignon because we have the same taste in wine. It’s a bold wine with notes of blackberry and blueberry and pairs weirdly well with chocolate, convenient since I drank it with my cookies ‘n’ cream birthday cake. This is one of the best wines I’ve had yet at San Martino and it was just as good on my picnic the day after I opened it. Order a bottle here.