Christy Rost
celebrating home and family

From Garden Harvest To Neighborhood Gathering: Greek Pasta & Garden Salad

Christy Rost |
3 min read

I love fresh garden salads, especially when my summertime alpine vegetable garden is lush with a variety of greens I grow from seed. My garden always gets a late start compared to my friends and culinary colleagues who live in warmer parts of the country because at an altitude of 9,300 feet, it’s well into June before our nights are warm enough to support tender seedlings just beginning to sprout. In fact, last year we had several nights in July that dipped to 28 degrees in my garden, and even cool season lettuces performed poorly.

My garden yields no photos of gorgeous tomatoes on-the-vine or just-harvested peppers to share on my social media platforms. The nights are too chilly to grow these. My husband teases me because I unknowingly selected the coldest spot on our property for my garden, where the sun shines brightly much of the day, but the cold air rushes down the mountain behind Swan’s Nest and settles right over my garden in the early morning hours. Oh well, gardening is supposed to be an adventure!

This summer, overnight temperatures have been consistently warmer, never dropping below 35-40 degrees, so I haven’t yet had to cover the garden with freeze cloth, though our first frosts will be here in a matter of weeks. When that happens, I’ll be out in the garden every evening, securing freeze cloth with rocks to prevent it from blowing away and leaving my plants at the mercy of the cold, then uncovering it again each morning. I confess, it’s a pain, but extending the growing season by at least another month is worth the trouble when I harvest fresh lettuce, mesclun, spinach, radishes, chard, and other veggies for our salads, soups, and stir fry dishes.

Pasta salads are another favorite in our home, so when I was asked to bring a salad to a progressive dinner as a send-off for neighbors who had sold their home, I combined two of my favorites and created Greek Pasta & Garden Salad. From the start, I envisioned a composed salad anchored by fusilli pasta accented with kalamata olives, capers, cucumber, and onion, tossed in a garlic vinaigrette. The pasta would be surrounded by red cherub tomatoes and a generous mixture of salad greens topped with chopped sweet bell peppers, artichoke hearts, julienned carrots, and red onion rings, drizzled with additional vinaigrette. Feta cheese would provide the final tasty flourish.

The resulting pasta and garden salad was exactly as I’d imagined. Never one to pass up an opportunity to share an easy, but impressive dish with my viewers, we filmed the salad just hours before taking it to the progressive dinner. It was a hit with all the guests and a perfect complement to the homemade Neapolitan pizzas our neighbors made that night. I hope you enjoy it, too!


Greek Pasta & Garden Salad

  • 1 package fusilli pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 large cucumber, rinsed and peeled
  • 1/3 cup sweet onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • Kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, rinsed and spun dry
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce, rinsed and spun dry
  • 1 bunch spring mix or mesclun, rinsed and spun dry
  • Red cherub tomatoes, rinsed
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, rinsed, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 2 carrots, rinsed, peeled, and julienned
  • Red onion rings

Cook pasta according to package directions until it is al dente, drain, toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and set it aside to cool. Pasta may be covered and chilled overnight.

In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice, red wine vinegar, garlic, ¾ cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Shortly before serving, transfer pasta to a large mixing bowl, pour half the vinaigrette over the pasta, reserving the rest for later, and toss well to coat. Cut off the ends of the cucumber, slice it in half lengthwise, and slice each half lengthwise again. Stand the cucumber upright on the cutting board and run the knife down the length of each section to remove seeds. Chop the cucumber into bite-size pieces, add it to the pasta, and stir in onion, capers, and olives.

Arrange lettuce and spring mix on a large platter, forming a well in the center. Spoon the pasta into the center of the platter and top with red onion rings. Garnish the salad greens with cherub tomatoes, chopped bell pepper, artichokes, and julienned carrots. Drizzle the greens with the remaining vinaigrette and season with freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with platter with crumbled feta cheese.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

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