This easy pasta salad is perfect for spring picnics. It’s delicious hot, cold and even at room temperature so pack your picnic basket full with plates, forks and a nice twist-off bottle of rosé for a perfect lunch.
Mimicking the flavors of a Greek salad, this dish comes together with the saltiness of olives and sweetness from pan-fried red onions. Reserve the soaking liquid from the olives to serve as a salty dressing. Chickpeas add protein and are best when made from dried beans, not taken from a can. Make sure to soak your chickpeas overnight before cooking them in boiling water with a teaspoon of baking soda for about 40 minutes to rehydrate.
Cook’s note: It may take you a few tries to get the right consistency for your brown rice pasta. The cooking time is often much shorter than traditional pasta made from semolina or whole wheat pasta. You can really use any type of pasta you want for this recipe as long as the shapes are small and will allow bits of feta cheese to rest inside the nooks and crannies. I recommend using conchiglie (shells) but macaroni (elbows), farfalle (bowties) or rotini (spirals) will also work well. There are so many brands of brown rice and quinoa pastas to choose from so go with one that you like.
Easy Pasta Salad Recipe with Feta, Olives and Chickpeas
6 servings brown rice pasta (see note above)
1/2 large red onion, sliced
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
4 tablespoons high quality extra virgin olive oil
½ cup pitted Kalamata olives + ¼ cup reserved vinegar/oil from jar
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring 8 cups of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Cook the pasta according to the package directions (about 8 minutes). Drain and set aside.
In a small non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and fry for about 5 minutes or until the onions just start to brown.
In a large bowl, combine the pasta with 3 tablespoons olive oil and ¼ cup reserved vinegar from the olive jar. Toss with the feta, chickpeas, onions, olives and parsley. Add a few grinds of pepper and a pinch of salt or more to your liking. Serve warm or cold.
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Photos by Ally-Jane