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This Chickpea Pasta Salad is filled with vibrant Mediterranean flavors including fresh tomatoes, herbs, briny kalamata olives, and creamy chickpeas.
This Mediterranean Chickpea Pasta Salad is light, refreshing, and filled with plant-based protein. It’s the perfect summer picnic side dish, quick lunch, or easy dinner when it’s too hot to cook. All you need is 12 ingredients and 30 minutes to prepare.
Table of Contents
All About this Summer Staple
It’s no secret I’m a fan of pasta salads. They’re easy to customize, simply dressed with a homemade dressing, and hearty enough to enjoy as a standalone main. Pasta salads are a staple dish you can find in our fridge just about every week during the warm summer months.
This Mediterranean pasta salad has been the most recent summer pasta salad in rotation. It’s on the lighter side thanks to an extra virgin olive oil-based dressing and complete with tender pasta, crisp and refreshing veggies, and a can of chickpeas for extra protein. It requires minimal prep, is easy to double or triple to feed a large crowd, and stores well for up to 5 days (if it lasts that long).
If you’re ever drawing a blank for your weekly meal plan, chickpea pasta salad is the answer.
What You Need for Chickpea Pasta Salad
There are 4 components to every good pasta salad: a flavorful dressing, al dente pasta, protein, and fresh vegetables. This pasta salad checks all the boxes with just 12 simple plant-based ingredients. Here’s the quick rundown of what you’ll need:
- Dressing: make your own creamy Mediterranean-inspired dressing from scratch using extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice or red wine vinegar, garlic, dijon, oregano, salt, and black pepper to taste.
- Pasta: any short cut pasta of choice will work. I personally love bow-tie or rotini pasta.
- Protein: hearty chickpeas aka garbanzo beans are the perfect plant-based protein for a Mediterranean pasta salad. Use a can of rinsed and drained chickpeas, or cook your own chickpeas from scratch and use about 1 3/4 cup.
- Veggies: my personal preference is a combination of fresh, juicy tomatoes, English cucumber, red onion, and optional kalamata olives.
- Fresh herbs: take the flavor to the next level with a combination of freshly chopped parsley and optional mint! If fresh herbs aren’t your thing, spicy arugula is another great option.
For full measurements, scroll to the bottom of the post for the complete recipe card.
How to Make Mediterranean Chickpea Pasta Salad
- Add the dressing ingredients to a jar and shake vigorously until emulsified. Set aside.
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of water according to package instructions or until al dente. Drain and rinse, then set aside until room temperature.
- Combine the cooled pasta and pasta salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Toss with the pasta salad dressing until well combined.
- Serve immediately, or refrigerate until chilled. Enjoy!
Caitlin’s Cooking Tips
- Don’t overcook the pasta! Soft and mushy pasta is less than ideal in a pasta salad recipe. Not only does this create a pasta salad that’s less visually appealing, but it affects the flavor and texture. For the best results, cook the pasta until al dente, then rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Allow the pasta salad to rest for 30 minutes. Once tossed with the dressing, allow the pasta salad to sit at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. This will allow the flavors an opportunity to meld together and create a more flavorful cold pasta salad.
You can’t go wrong bringing this vegan pasta salad to your next picnic, summer barbecue, or enjoying alone as a quick and easy snack during the work week. It pairs well with several of my favorite Spring and Summer dishes including this Crunchy Cucumber Dill Salad, Quinoa Tabbouleh, and these Grilled Pesto Tofu Sliders.
How to Store Chickpea Pasta Salad
One tossed to combine, this healthy chickpea pasta salad will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. Store tightly covered in a sealable mixing bowl or with a sheet of reusable wrap to keep the pasta fresh.
Freezing this pasta salad is not recommended.
Substitutions and Variations
- Gluten-free option: Use your favorite gluten-free pasta instead of wheat-based pasta. For additional plant-based protein, try a chickpea rotini or similar bean-based, protein pasta.
- Soy-free option: I typically make my own tangy feta cheese using my tofu “feta” recipe, but if you are soy-free, use a store-bought vegan feta cheese from brands such as Violife Foods and Follow Your Heart.
- Cucumber substitute: Replace the cucumber with quartered and sliced zucchini
- Red onion substitute: For a milder onion flavor, use white onion, yellow onion, green onions or chives.
- Other veggies to add: Customize this Mediterranean pasta salad to suit your taste buds. Switch out the veggies for other veggies such as bell peppers, artichoke hearts, chopped spinach, or summer squash.
Extra virgin olive oil is a key ingredient in the pasta salad dressing and is necessary in emulsifying the dressing ingredients. If you’re looking for oil-free pasta salad recipes to try, you might enjoy this Creamy Dill Pickle Pasta Salad or this Pesto Orzo Salad.
Yes, and you may prefer it! Similar to making soups and stews, the flavor in a pasta salad develops as it sits. If you are planning to bring this Mediterranean Chickpea Pasta Salad to a summer barbecue, picnic, or family potluck this summer, feel free to prepare it up to 24-48 hours in advance.
Traditional pasta salads are most commonly served at room temperature or chilled. With that being said, if you prefer a warm pasta salad, give it a try. The fresh veggies may become soft and lose their crispness, but the flavor will still be there.
Enjoy! If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I would also love it if you could leave a comment below with a recipe rating! Thank you for the support 😊
Mediterranean Chickpea Pasta Salad
For the Dressing:
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice or red wine vinegar
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Black pepper to taste
For the Salad:
- 8 ounces pasta gluten-free if necessary
- 1 15 ounce can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 dry pint (10 ounces) fresh tomatoes diced or cut in half
- 1 English cucumber quartered and sliced
- 1/2 red onion small dice
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives, cut in half (optional)
- 1/2-1 cup crumbled feta, I used dairy-free
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint (optional)
- Make the Dressing: In a resealable jar, add the oil, lemon or vinegar, garlic, mustard, oregano, salt, and black pepper. Seal and shake vigorously, until emulsified. Let sit; the vinegar will mellow out the garlic over time.
- Cook the Pasta: Generously salt a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente, according to package instructions, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta and rinse well with cold water until the pasta comes to room temperature.
- Combine: Add the chilled pasta to a large bowl along with the chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, olives, feta, parsley, and mint. Top with the dressing and toss until well combined.
- Serve & Store: Serve immediately, or place in the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes before serving. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free pasta instead of wheat-based pasta to make this recipe gluten-free!