Sunday, August 23, 2009

Macaroni Salad Recipe with Fresh Tomatoes, Fresh Basil, and Feta (Meatless)

Macaroni Salad with Fresh Tomatoes, Fresh Basil, and Feta
Pasta salads often don't get much respect, and while it's true there are a lot of soggy and bland pasta salad concoctions, this Macaroni Salad with Fresh Tomatoes, Fresh Basil, and Feta is loaded with flavor. The dressing ingredients are mixed with the tomatoes and basil and allowed to hang out together for a few hours, then about 45 minutes before you want to serve it you cook the macaroni, let it cool a bit, and then mix the dressing into the slightly-warm pasta. The recipe was inspired by a spaghetti salad I used to love at a local deli, so you could use whole wheat spaghetti if you prefer. If you have fresh tomatoes and basil from the garden, this is a delicious new salad option.

When I was at The Spice House in Chicago I bought some of this tomato powder (made from dried tomatoes and no added ingredients.) I mixed a couple of teaspoons of this into the dressing to bump up the tomato flavor, and loved the results. If you don't have the tomato powder, use a tablespoon of double-thick tomato paste that comes in a tube. (You can also cook down regular tomato paste if you don't have the double thick type.)

Mix the Spike Seasoning, black pepper, and tomato powder (or paste) into the vinegar, then whisk in the olive oil. (The first time I made this I did it in a small dish as shown, but the second time I made the salad I got smart and mixed the dressing in the bowl I was going to make the salad in, saving a dish to wash!)

Then mix in the chopped tomatoes, sliced green onions, and chopped basil and let the mixture marinate on the counter for an hour or two.

Then about 45 minutes before you want to serve the salad, cook the macaroni and drain well in a colander. Let macaroni cool about 15 minutes.

Then mix the tomato-basil mixture into the slightly warm pasta, season with salt and pepper, and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Right before serving, mix in a generous amount of basil (cut into chiffonade strips), and sprinkle the salad with crumbled feta and serve.

Macaroni Salad with Fresh Tomatoes, Basil, and Feta
(Makes about 6 side-dish servings, recipe created by Kalyn, inspired by the Spaghetti Salad at Smiths Deli.)

3 T white balsamic vinegar (or use white wine vinegar, but the white balsamic vinegar is a bit milder)
2 tsp. tomato powder (or use 1 T double-thick tomato sauce)
1/2 tsp. Spike Seasoning (optional but recommended)
a few grinds black pepper (to taste)
5 T extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (cherry tomatoes would be perfect, but I used tomatoes from the garden)
1 cup sliced green onion (white and green parts)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil + 1/2 cup basil for basil chiffonade to stir into finished salad (You could probably get by with less basil if you don't have it in the garden, but I loved this with all the basil flavor.)
2 cups Dreamfields macaroni (or use any macaroni of your choice; use Dreamfields or whole wheat pasta for South Beach diet)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled feta (or more)

In a glass bowl (large enough to hold finished salad) mix together white balsamic vinegar, tomato powder or paste, Spike seasoning, and black pepper. Whisk in olive oil, one tablespoon at a time. Chop tomatoes and basil and slice green onions and add to dressing mixture, stirring to combine. Let ingredients marinate on the counter for an hour or two.

About 45 minutes before you want to serve salad, bring a large pot of water to a boil, adding a generous amount of salt to the water (it should taste slightly salty.) When water is boiling add macaroni and cook until barely al dente (about 9 minutes for Dreamfields, check package for cooking times if you use a different type of pasta.) When pasta is barely tender, with still a little bite to it, drain into colander placed in the sink. Let pasta cool 15 minutes, stirring a few times so it doesn't stick together. (Don't rinse!)

When macaroni is partly cooled (but still slightly warm) mix it into dressing mixture and gently stir to combine. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Let the salad continue to cool 15-20 minutes, while you chiffonade the basil and crumble feta. Just before serving, gently stir in basil strips, then sprinkle finished salad with feta.

This will keep for one day in the fridge, although it's much better served just after it's made.

Click Here for Printer Friendly Recipe

South Beach Diet Suggestions:
Made with Dreamfields macaroni, or other whole wheat or low-carb pasta, this salad would be suitable for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet. This would be great served with something like Rosemary Mustard Grilled Chicken or Hamburger Kebabs.

More Macaroni or Pasta Salads You Might Like:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

Shrimp and Macaroni Salad from Kalyn's Kitchen

Pasta Salad with Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Grilled Zucchini, and Basil from Kalyn's Kitchen

Pasta Salad with Italian Sausage, Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Olives from Kalyn's Kitchen

Mom's Macaroni Salad from Simply Recipes

Macaroni Salad from Life's Ambrosia

Classic Macaroni Salad from Columbus Foodie

(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)counter customizable free hit
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. Yum! I just makes a tomato-pasta salad that was really good. Hurray for tomato season!

  2. I think I'm going to order some tomato powder. I'm always opening cans of tomato paste and then storing leftovers in tiny tupperware containers that get lost in the back of my fridge! You salad sounds wonderful!

  3. I LOVE the tomato powder! I picked some up when I was in Chicago in June. It is great! So is the Vulcan Fire Salt.

  4. My list is getting longer of things I need to watch out for. I'll add tomato powder to the list:D

  5. The tomato powder from The Spice House has been a great addition to my cooking in the past few weeks, for everything from salad dressing to spaghetti sauce. I love this salad, and I have everything on hand to make it. I'm bookmarking.

  6. I can tell you one thing, Kalyn. This recipe is so you! I am making it this week. I think I got all the ingredients at home, except for the tomato powder of course…

  7. Rachel, every year I look forward to this time when the tomatoes are so delicious!

    Nicole, I really like it, and I'm loving all the things I got at The Spice House.

    Amy, thanks for the tip, will have to check out the Vulcan Fire Salt.

    Val, the tomato powder is great. Perfect for things where you want just a bit of tomato flavor or a bit more tomato flavor.

    Lydia, so glad we went to The Spice House!

    Anh, true indeed, these are some of my favorite flavors. (Well, except for cilantro of course!)

  8. Kalyn, that looks fabulous! I love how the tomato powder and spices color the pasta, so lovely!

  9. I think it's time to get some tomato powder! It sounds like a wonderful ingredient.

    Pasta salad with fresh, juicy tomatoes, bright fresh basil and creamy feta sounds absolutely delicious. I'm having a party this weekend, and I think this salad will be on the menu!

  10. I made an insanely similar pasta salad to this just yesterday. So delicious!

  11. Okay, now I am going to have to order some tomato powder from the Spice House. I've always been such a Penzey's nut, that I've never tried Spice House. Did you say that it is the same family?

    As for Dreamfields Pasta: I LOVE the stuff. So glad that it is made. I am having more and more trouble finding it in Toledo, Ohio, though. I may have to take up ordering it online, like I do many other food products.

    I make my own version of this salad--with campari tomatoes, quartered, feta and fresh basil from the garden. I usually add a splash of balsamic vinegar. Yum!

  12. Kalyn,
    Aside from the fact that I don't like macaroni in pasta salad (too much past flavor for me) that's a great recipe! I particularly like your use of tomato powder. There's no place around where that sells it, but I figure I can make my own by grinfing dried tomatoes in my spice grinder. Thanks for the idea.

    Oh, and here's my favorite pasta salad.

  13. When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it. I had it for lunch today and it was SO GOOD. Even my husband, who normally hates whole wheat pasta, liked it. Thanks!

  14. I do think anyone who is a slightly creative cook will find lots of good things to do with the tomato powder.

    Sounds like there are a lot of good pasta salads with tomatoes going on right now.

    Laura, thanks for the nice feedback. Always love it when the recipe is a hit!

  15. I posted an orzo recipe today, using very similar ingredients! Don't you love summer's bounty!

  16. That looks so good! I make a similar salad with orzo; I like it when the pasta is not too big as somehow it just seems to get a bit rubbery tasting. I haven't tried Dreamfield's; now I want to.

  17. I must admit, I'm a macaroni addict, and this looks so good!

  18. excellent recipe, great kalyn!
    please join my new linkedin group ;
    south beach lifestyle club!

  19. Last night I attempted to make the macaroni salad but sadly I ran out of macaroni, I nice replacement I found was spiral pasta. It maintained a nice texture and had a lovely taste.

  20. sounds very ggood. i wish I had some fresh basil and fresh tomato's from a garden :-( city life. All cities should have a garden on their roof top. Especially in California


I'm so happy you're taking the time to comment on Kalyn's Kitchen! I love hearing from people who stop by, especially if you're sharing feedback or asking questions about a recipe I've posted here.

I've recently changed my comment settings so people can comment without signing in, but you will need to check the box to show you're a live person, and comments on older posts won't show up until I publish them. Thanks for understanding!

And if you really like the recipe, Pins, Shares, Tweets, and Yums are always appreciated!

Blogging tips