My Big Fat Greek Pasta Salad
- 1 (12 ounce) box tri-color spiral pasta (Barilla brand)
- 1⁄2 cup red onion, cut into thin 1 1/2-inch strips
- 4 green onions, sliced thin
- 1 small green pepper, cut into thin 1 1/2-inch strips
- 1 small red pepper, cut into thin 1 1/2-inch strips
- 1 small yellow pepper, cut into thin 1 1/2-inch strips
- 1 cup sweet grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- 1 peeled cucumber, quartered lengthwise in 3/4 inch thick slices
- 1⁄2 cup pitted kalamata olive, halved lengthwise
- 3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, cut into strips
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons minced fresh mint leaves
- 4 -6 ounces feta cheese (cut into small cubes or crumbled)
- 1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1⁄2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
- 2 1⁄2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 pressed fresh garlic cloves or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried greek oregano
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- PREPARE the DRESSING: Grate 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest; KNEAD and cut lemons into halves to juice, yielding 2 1/2 tablespoons juice; WHISK together remaining ingredients well; SET aside.
- BRING bring 6 quarts water to a boil in a large pot; ADD 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt and spiral pasta, returning to boiling; COOK pasta according to package directions (do not overcook -- pasta should be al dente).
- DRAIN pasta well; RETURN pasta to pot and toss with a very small amount of olive oil to prevent sticking; LET stand to cool.
- PREP all pasta salad vegetables and fresh herbs to specifications; PLACE prepped vegetables into a large bowl.
- ADD the cooled pasta to vegetables in bowl, combining well.
- ADD 4-6 ounces cubed or crumbled feta cheese, without tossing.
- WHISK the DRESSING mixture again; POUR the DRESSING evenly over pasta salad; GENTLY fold pasta salad over from the bottom a few times to evenly distribute the dressing and combine feta cheese.
- CHILL pasta salad at least 2 hours to overnight.
- GARNISH pasta salad with parsley sprig, or fresh basil or mint leaves.
- SERVE and ENJOY!