That last exotic forkful was the inspiration for this pasta salad; lots of ingredients used in Middle Eastern dishes all mingled together into a refreshing salad perfect for a hot summer’s day.
This salad is a great addition to a barbecue, as a side dish or vegan main dish if you leave out the feta; it is light yet filling at the same time.
Unlike many pasta salads that have a mayonnaise base, the dressing is a simple garlicky lemon tahini dressing that you can whip up in the blender in seconds. Crispy cucumber slices, garbanzo beans, Kalamata olives, red onions, grape tomatoes, mint leaves and if you like, feta cheese, are tossed in with cooked pasta to round it all out (I used gluten free white rice elbows from Pastariso). I also added some roasted pistachios for crunch and texture.
This salad is easy to make, feeds a crowd and is a bit more sophisticated and exotic than your average pasta salad.
BTW if you love the acacia wood salad bowl in my photo below, hop over to my giveaway page and enter to win one of your own!
Gluten Free Middle Eastern Pasta Salad Recipe
1 pound Pastariso White Rice Pasta Elbows
¾ cup shelled, roasted, salted pistachios
¼ cup tahini
1/3 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
½ cup red onion, finely chopped (from ½ a medium onion)
½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
½ cup mint leaves
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled – optional, leave out for dairy free or vegan
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to the package directions. Rinse with cold water and drain.
Place the pistachios in a dry skillet and cook over medium-high heat until fragrant, 3- 4 minutes. Let cool and coarsely chop.
Place the tahini, water, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a blender and process until smooth.
Peel the cucumber, slice in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds with a spoon and cut into ¼ inch slices. Place the cucumber slices in a large mixing bowl, add the onion, olives, tomatoes, pasta and dressing. Toss to combine and taste, add more salt and pepper if needed. Add the mint leaves, pistachios and feta and gently toss to combine. Refrigerate until serving.
A gluten free recipe that serves 10 -12 people.
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