Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

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Prepared Mediterranean Pasta Salad served in a clear bowl on a wooden tray.

Go ahead and skip the mayo with this Mediterranean Pasta Salad that is bright and briny with a wonderful array of ingredients. The zesty dressing made with Dijon and fresh herbs is a burst of flavour that takes this salad to the next level. Olives and pancetta add a nice texture and brininess to the pasta, while the spinach, cherry tomatoes and red onion keep it light and fresh. Mediterranean Pasta Salad is great for picnics, potlucks, backyard BBQ parties and your July long weekend. This salad holds up wonderfully the day it is made so there’s no fear of a soggy salad. The pasta and pancetta can be cooked up to two days ahead so tossing this salad together at the last minute is a cinch. Enjoy!

Ingredients for Mediterranean Pasta Salad arranged on a wodden tray.

This recipe was one of the first posted to my blog back in 2016 and I forgot how delicious it is. I felt it deserved a little revival just in time to enjoy for summer.

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

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Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 6 cups

Ingredients

  • 7 ounces gemelli or fusilli pasta
  • 4 ounces pancetta
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil see note
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano see note
  • 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley see note
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced and roughly chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water until pasta is cool. Drain well and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a small skillet cook pancetta over medium heat until crispy and fat has been rendered, about 5-7 minutes. Drain well on a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, basil, oregano, Dijon mustard, red pepper flakes, garlic, salt and pepper.
  • Toss together pasta, pancetta, spinach, cherry tomatoes, black olives, red onion, parmesan cheese and dressing until combined. Adjust seasoning and serve.

Notes

-fresh herbs are lovely in this recipe, however, if you need to use dry herbs use 1/3 of the amount stated for fresh.
-this salad is best served the day it is made but leftovers will keep for 2 days covered in the refrigerator.

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Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta

Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta

Do you like lamb?  I certainly do, and I believe it’s a meat you either like or don’t.  I also believe that some people associate lamb with mutton, which has turned them away from it. Mutton is from the same animal as lamb, but stronger in taste and usually much tougher due to the age of the animal.  Mutton is meat from a sheep that is 1-3 years old, which yields a stronger, gamier taste, and is tougher due to the muscles working longer.  Lamb, on the other hand, is meat from young lambs that are less than a year old.  Young spring lamb is tender and milder in comparison to mutton.

 

My personal favourite in cuts of lamb is chops, specifically grilled chops, which are delicious with a mustard rub.  I also enjoy lean ground lamb and lamb shoulder.  The wonderful thing about lamb is that it can take on robust, bold flavours and pairs wonderfully with the tomatoes and olives in this Mediterranean style dish.  Saucy, rustic and full of flavour, Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta is a welcome change from regular beef meatballs. Perfect with rice or toasty bread!  Enjoy!

If you’re a lamb lover like me, you’ll also want to try Braised Lamb Shoulder. Fork tender lamb shoulder braised in a creamy mushroom sauce.

 

Recipe source for Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta:  Compelled to Cook

Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta
Print Recipe
    Servings Prep Time
    3-4 people 30-35 minutes
    Cook Time
    45-50 minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    3-4 people 30-35 minutes
    Cook Time
    45-50 minutes
    Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta
    Print Recipe
      Servings Prep Time
      3-4 people 30-35 minutes
      Cook Time
      45-50 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      3-4 people 30-35 minutes
      Cook Time
      45-50 minutes
      Ingredients
      Meatballs
      Sauce
      Servings: people
      Instructions
      Meatballs
      1. Add all ingredients except oil to a large bowl. Gently combine with your hands or a wooden spoon. Roll mixture into 17-18 evenly sized meatballs approximately 1 1/4 ounces each.
      2. Heat oil in a cast iron or oven safe skillet over medium heat until hot. Arrange meatballs in a single layer and brown on all sides, about 20 minutes. Remove meatballs to a paper towel lined plate and drain all but 1 tbsp of fat from skillet.
      Sauce
      1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
      2. To the skillet add chopped shallot and garlic, sauté for 2-3 minutes over medium heat until soft, stirring often. Pour in white wine to deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up any browned bits in the pan. Add chicken broth and allow to simmer for about 2 minutes.
      3. Using your hands, crush tomatoes and add to skillet along with oregano, paprika and pepper. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Add meatballs back to pan, stirring to coat with sauce.
      4. Place in oven uncovered and bake for 20-25 minutes until sauce is reduced, stirring once. Remove from oven and stir to coat with sauce. Sprinkle with feta cheese and olives, return to oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with chopped red onion and fresh oregano if desired and serve immediately on top of rice or with crusty bread.
      Recipe Notes

      -dampened hands help to roll meatballs.

       

      Tomato Relish

      Tomato Relish

      What will you do with all those tomatoes?  Firstly, you need to start by making this lovely Tomato Relish.  It’s a little like bruschetta, but saltier and brinier from olives and capers.  Delicious with white fish, chicken, crostini or eggs.  A quick and easy condiment that makes the most of those little red gems drooping from the vine.

      With the onset of garden bounties, also comes the realization we’re quickly approaching the end of summer. I pause to think “where has it gone”, always gone in a blink here in central Alberta, and soon enough blogger posts will be filled with back to school specialties.  So make the most of the sunny, warm weather that’s left and enjoy seasonal fresh produce while you can.  Tomato Relish not only highlights fresh cherry tomatoes but also fresh herbs, reminding us that eating healthy and well is easy and delicious. Enjoy!

      Recipe source for Tomato Relish:  Compelled To Cook

      Tomato Relish
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        1 3/4 cups 20-25 minutes
        Passive Time
        30-60 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        1 3/4 cups 20-25 minutes
        Passive Time
        30-60 minutes
        Tomato Relish
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          1 3/4 cups 20-25 minutes
          Passive Time
          30-60 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          1 3/4 cups 20-25 minutes
          Passive Time
          30-60 minutes
          Instructions
          1. Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl and stir to combine. Allow to rest for 30-60 minutes prior to serving to help meld flavours. Makes about 1 3/4 cups and is best eaten the day it is made. Serve along side your favourite white fish, chicken, crostini or eggs.

          Zahtar Potato Salad

          Zahtar Potato Salad

          Zahtar or Za’atar is a middle eastern spice blend that I’ve not had the pleasure to work with a lot with over the years. It’s a real shame because I love it!  Earthy and nutty with hints of citrus makes it wonderful with so many foods.  Hummus and pita are probably the first things people think of when they associate it, but it goes way beyond.  Great with chicken, eggs and potatoes to name a few. I recently came across a Zahtar Egg Salad and figured why not incorporate it into a potato salad, and Zahtar Potato Salad was born. 

          I was not far off the mark thinking it would be delicious. The combination of briny, salty olives and creamy mayonnaise brings baby potatoes to life and makes for a great Mediterranean version.  Even though I prefer the  mayonnaise based potato salad, I did experiment with a warm salad version using olive oil to dress it instead of the mayonnaise.  It too was a tasty version of potato salad but I just couldn’t stop scooping up the creamier version.  Maybe because that was the way my mom used to make it and by far the type I’ve eaten most in my life. 

          The Zahtar I purchased contains salt, so I therefore found it was not necessary to add additional salt in this recipe.  If your Zahtar does not contain salt,  be sure to add salt to taste. You can also make your own if desired, here is a simple recipe from The Genius Kitchen

          Recipe source for Zahtar Potato Salad:  Inspired by Bon Appetit Mediterranean Egg Salad

          Zahtar Potato Salad
          Print Recipe
            Servings Prep Time
            5 cups 30 minutes
            Cook Time
            12 minutes
            Servings Prep Time
            5 cups 30 minutes
            Cook Time
            12 minutes
            Zahtar Potato Salad
            Print Recipe
              Servings Prep Time
              5 cups 30 minutes
              Cook Time
              12 minutes
              Servings Prep Time
              5 cups 30 minutes
              Cook Time
              12 minutes
              Ingredients
              Servings: cups
              Instructions
              1. Preheat oven to 350℉ and place pine nuts in a single layer on a small baking tray or pie plate. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes, turning at least once until golden. Remove from oven and set aside until ready to use.
              2. Heat enough water to just cover the eggs and simmer gently for no more than 12 minutes. Drain and immediately cool under cold running water. Once cooled, peel and coarsely chop.
              3. Steam or boil baby potatoes in simmering lightly salted water until just fork tender, about 8-10 minutes depending on size. Drain and cool under cold water. Allow potatoes to drain thoroughly once cool.
              4. Cut potatoes into bite size pieces, usually a baby potato cut in half or quartered makes for a nice size.
              5. In a medium size bowl stir together red onion, green olives, mayonnaise, greek yogurt, Zahtar and salt and pepper. Add chopped potatoes, eggs, pine nuts and cilantro. Gently stir into mayonnaise until combined. Serve immediately sprinkled with additional cilantro if desired. Can be chilled for several hours prior to serving if needed. Best served the day it is made.
              Recipe Notes

              -For time management, the potatoes, pine nuts and eggs can be cooked at the same time.

              -The Zahtar I used contained salt, so little extra salt was needed. However, if your brand does not include salt you will need to adjust seasoning to taste.