The best part about this tomato feta pasta salad is that it tastes juicy, flavourful and fresh any time of the year. End of summer, I use local beefsteak or roma tomatoes, and in winter green house grown tomatoes on the vine are flavourful and sort of affordable. If you are a Costco lover like me (my healthy Costco shopping list), you can buy that big tub of grape tomatoes (often just $1-2 more than conventional) and make this healthy pasta salad with feta cheese, bell pepper, parsley or dill, and olive oil year round.
Yes, I do think pasta salad can be healthy. No white pasta drowning in mayo but I consider my healthy pasta salad, Greek yogurt pasta salad and healthy ramen noodle salad healthy. As I shared in what is clean eating, it is all about balance, moderation and loading your meals with whole foods and real food to your best ability. And this tomato feta pasta salad fits my healthy criteria: whole grain pasta, locally grown tomatoes, parsley and garlic; and conventional feta cheese because it’s life.
How to Make Tomato Feta Pasta Salad
Tomatoes: It’s the end of summer, so to make this tomato feta pasta salad I used beefsteak tomatoes from my last farmers market haul. Roma, cherry, grape or round yellow “taxi” tomatoes would work too. I can’t justify spending twice more money on heirloom tomatoes, but you can use those if they are at your disposal.
The most important tip I can share about chopping tomatoes – use sharp knife to cut through their skin without creating a mush. You should also give my tomato and red onion salad with garlicky Greek yogurt, and simple tomato salad with basil a try. So good! I love tomatoes!
Bell Peppers: A few finely chopped red bell peppers add flavour, more vegetable content and a hefty dose of vitamin C that boosts your immune system. This tomato feta pasta salad hands down contains more vegetables than pasta. I told you it’s healthy.
Pasta: I recommend using any short pasta like penne, fusilli, corkscrew, orzo etc. As long as it’s whole grain, whole wheat, brown rice or gluten free, it contains more fiber and nutrients than white semolina pasta. Important thing to note though – gluten free doesn’t mean healthy. There are so many products on the market that are free of gluten and are yet junk food. Eating gluten free scone vs. white flour one doesn’t automatically make it a healthy choice. So, I am mentioning gluten free pasta for those with diagnosed celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, and because pasta is one of those very few gluten free man made products that 99% of time is healthy because it is made from quinoa, brown rice or legumes. It is also more expensive.
The Rest: Salads are the best way to enjoy health benefits raw extra virgin olive oil has to offer. It is not ideal for cooking because it is not high heat withstanding oil, making coconut and avocado oils much better choices => 3 healthy cooking oils I use. So, I always use olive oil for salads.
Last word is on feta cheese because as much as I’m into buying organic on a budget meat and dairy, organic feta cheese is very expensive in my neck of the woods. So, I considered the balance factor and bought a big tub at Costco, divided it between Ziploc bags and froze. It will last us a while, won’t break the bank and will be outnumbered by all other organic, local and pesticide free foods we eat daily.
- 2 lbs ripe tomatoes, cut into 1" cubes
- 3 large red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 cup parsley or dill, finely chopped
- 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 large garlic clove, grated
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups (8 oz) any short whole wheat or gluten free pasta, uncooked
- In a large salad bowl, add ingredients as you are preparing them in the above listed order: tomatoes, bell peppers, parsley, feta cheese, garlic, olive oil and pepper.
- Cook pasta as per package instructions undercooking by 2-3 minutes or until pasta is al dente, cooked but firm. Add cooked pasta directly from the pot to salad bowl, this will allow hot pasta to melt feta cheese a bit and help flavours marry each other. A bit of pasta water transferring with pasta is fine.
- Add a pinch of salt and gently stir pasta salad just enough to combine. Serve warm or cold.