This healthy Mediterranean Pasta is filled with burst tomatoes, creamy feta cheese, lemon, and fresh herbs. So quick and easy to throw together, it's the ultimate weeknight Mediterranean spaghetti.
Why You'll Love this Mediterranean Pasta
Bursting with the bright flavors of the Mediterranean, this pasta is prized for being low effort with a big payoff. Featuring a mix of angel hair spaghetti, cherry tomatoes, garlic, and olives, it's sure to become a family favorite.
And while the recipe is vegetarian, it's highly adaptable to mix in your favorite protein. For example, seared shrimp, shredded chicken, canned tuna, or chickpeas. Or, simply enjoy as is for a light, nutritious meal.
This Mediterranean pasta feature a mix of fresh ingredients and pantry staples for simplicity. Plus, it lasts for days in the refrigerator, making it a fabulous make-ahead lunch. However you choose to enjoy it, this back-pocket pasta recipe will surely become a staple.
Recipe Ingredients and Substitutions:
- Pasta: I love using angel hair pasta for this recipe because it feels much lighter than most. For an extra nutrient boost, look for whole wheat pasta. Or, for a gluten-free, higher protein alternative, use chickpea pasta, such as Banza brand.
- Tomatoes: You need 1 pound of cherry tomatoes, which cook down to create a sweet, jammy sauce. Use all red, or a combination of red, yellow, and orange.
- Red Onion: Red onions become sultry and sweet when sautéed. Alternatively, you can use shallots here, which add a little more bite.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic is key here! Garlic powder just doesn't pack the same punch in the sauce.
- Herbs: A mix of dried herbs (oregano) and fresh (rosemary) create an herbaceous backbone for the pasta.
- Lemon: Fresh lemon juice adds bright top notes to the pasta. I suggest only use fresh here, as opposed to bottled, for top-notch sunny flavor.
- Spinach: To effortlessly slip in extra nutrients, fresh baby spinach creates silky ribbons of green goodness throughout the pasta.
- Feta: Feta cheese knows no match in terms of salty, rich creaminess. Alternatively, you can use grated Parmesan cheese.
- Olives: For briny, meaty oomph, use black Kalamata olives. For a milder, more buttery flavor, use my personal favorite, Castelvetrano olives.
Step 1: Boil Pasta
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Prior to draining, remove 1 cup of pasta cooking water; set aside. Drain pasta, and add back to pot.
Step 2: Cook Tomatoes and Onion
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add tomatoes and onion; cook 7 to 8 minutes, until the tomatoes burst and onions soften.
Step 2: Sauté Garlic and Spices
Add garlic, oregano, fennel seeds, and roasted red pepper flakes to the tomato mixture; cook 2 minutes, until aromatic.
Step 3: Add Spinach and Lemon
Add spinach to the pot of tomatoes, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until wilted. Stir in lemon juice, rosemary, salt, and pepper.
Step 4: Toss with Pasta
Add tomato mixture to pot with cooked pasta, and add reserved 1 cup pasta cooking water. Use a set of tongs to toss continuously until a light sauce begins coming together and clinging to the pasta. Stir in feta cheese and olives, and remove pasta from heat.
Divide pasta evenly into 5 bowls, and top with additional herbs and/or cheese, if desired.
Mediterranean Pasta Recipe Variations
While plenty satisfying on its own, here are a few variations to appease every appetite:
- Vegan Mediterranean Pasta: Omit the feta cheese and add a sprinkle of nutritional yeast for cheesy oomph. You can also stir in some jarred artichoke hearts, which add extra heft to the pasta.
- Mediterranean Pasta with Shrimp: Season 12 ounces of peeled and deveined shrimp with salt and pepper, and sauté in an oiled skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through. Toss shrimp into the pasta when you add the feta and olives. Alternatively, top the pasta with these Crispy Shrimp Cakes.
- Mediterranean Pasta with Tuna: Drain one can of tuna (or salmon!), and stir into the pasta when you add the feta and olives.
- Chicken Mediterranean Pasta: Add shredded rotisserie chicken, grilled chicken, or pan-seared chicken to the pasta the end of cooking.
- Mediterranean Pasta with Chickpeas: Drain and rinse a can of chickpeas, and add to the pasta when you combine the tomato mixture and spaghetti.
What to Serve with Mediterranean Pasta:
To round out the meal, serve it with:
- Garlic Bread
- A Crisp, Green Salad: Try this Shaved Brussels and Pear Salad for a burst of freshness and crunch.
- Meatballs: Mediterranean spaghetti + Chickpea Meatballs are a match made in vegetarian heaven.
FAQs and Expert Tips:
Can you have Pasta on a Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet encourages upping your intake of vegetables, legumes, whole grains, seafood, and extra-virgin olive oil. Therefore, pasta (whole grain pasta, in particular), can absolutely be part of a Mediterranean diet. Chickpea noodles are also encouraged in Mediterranean pasta recipes.
Is Pasta with Olive Oil Healthy?
Extra-virgin olive oil is a staple in the Mediterranean diet, and therefore a nutritious base for pasta sauces. Rich in monounsaturated fats and inflammation-fighting compounds, it can help improve cholesterol levels and overall heart health.
This pasta, in particular, leans on olive oil to create a luscious fresh tomato sauce.
How to Store and Reheat:
- To Store: Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat: Warm gently in the microwave with a splash of water or broth to keep the pasta from drying out.
More Mediterranean Pasta Recipes to Try:
If you give this Mediterranean spaghetti a try, snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth so I can see your beautiful creations. I also really appreciate readers taking the time to leave a rating and review! Lastly, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates.
Weeknight Mediterranean Pasta
- Large stockpot or Dutch oven
- Large skillet
- 12 oz. dry angel hair pasta
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. cherry tomatoes
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ¾ tsp. dried oregano
- ½ tsp. crushed fennel seed
- ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 handfuls fresh baby spinach
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
- ¾ tsp. kosher salt
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
- ⅓ cup pitted Kalamata olives
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Prior to draining, remove 1 cup of pasta cooking water; set aside. Drain pasta, and add back to pot.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add tomatoes and onion; cook 6 to 8 minutes, until the tomatoes burst and onion softens. Add garlic, oregano, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes; cook 2 minutes, until aromatic. Add spinach; cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until wilted. Stir in lemon juice, rosemary, salt, and pepper.
- Pour tomato mixture into pot with cooked pasta, and slowly stream in 1 cup reserved pasta cooking water, tossing constantly with a set of tongs. Continue tossing until a light sauce comes together and clings to the pasta. Stir in feta cheese and olives.Divide pasta evenly into 6 bowls, and top with additional herbs and/or cheese, if desired.