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This gluten free pasta salad made with protein rich chickpea pasta is loaded with diced veggies and herbs with a simple oil free Italian dressing.
Picnic season is upon us! When I think picnic, I think pasta salad, of course! Most pasta salads are a bit heavy for my taste. They often include mozzarella cheese, or parmesan, and are doused in a store bought Italian dressing.
There’s nothing wrong with those pasta salads if that’s what you’re after, but I set out to make one that everyone could enjoy! Whether you’re vegan, plant-based, dairy free, gluten free, or just want a lighter pasta salad, this is the recipe for you! It’s great as vegan prep meal too!
It’s full of flavor thanks to the finely chopped fresh herbs. Super filling and satisfying thanks to the protein rich chickpea pasta, and you get a healthy dose of your daily veggies in every bite.
Pasta salad is usually served as a side dish at picnics and BBQs, but I’d argue this pasta salad is a main dish contender. If you’re looking for more delicious salads, check out my 25 Vegan Salad Recipes!
This recipe makes a BIG batch which is perfect if you’re taking it to a potluck, picnic, BBQ, or serving a crowd!
You don’t want to miss this one. Even though it’s suited for special diets it’s beautiful to the eyes and delicious with every bite. It’s sure to entice everyone!
Why You’ll Love this Gluten Free Pasta Salad…
- Dairy free
- Egg free
- Allergy friendly
- Whole Food Plant-Based
- Oil free
- Fresh ingredients
- Simple and easy to prepare
- Perfect for a crowd
- Includes a quick homemade Italian Dressing
- Great for picnics, potlucks, and BBQs
Ingredients You’ll Need
For the Pasta Salad:
- Chickpea pasta-I used penne pasta but you could also use elbow or fusilli.
- Cherry tomatoes-These are perfect because they’re small and don’t contain as many juices and seeds as larger tomatoes.
- Black olives-Find ones that are sliced, or you could also use kalamata olives without the pit.
- Cucumber-Use an English cucumber as the skin is not as tough, and it has fewer seeds.
- Red onion-I prefer red onion as it gives this salad a nice color.
- Dill-Use fresh, remove from stem and finely chop.
- Curly Parsley-I prefer the curly parsley to the flat leaf parsley in this dish as it has a touch more texture.
For the Italian Dressing:
- Vegetable stock-Be sure to use a gluten-free vegetable stock. Check labels. It’s likely not to contain gluten, but some other stocks have been known to add hydrolyzed wheat protein.
- White wine vinegar-If you do not have white wine vinegar you can use apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, or lemon juice instead.
- Italian seasoning-Italian seasoning includes basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. If you don’t have Italian seasoning you can substitute oregano.
- Salt-I prefer sea salt.
- Pepper-I prefer freshly ground pepper.
Tools and Equipment You’ll Need
This recipe is super easy to prepare. You’ll need a pasta pot to cook your pasta. A cutting board and good knife to chop your vegetables and fresh herbs, and a mixing bowl to fold it all together.
If you’re planning to take this recipe to a picnic or potluck, I recommend this collapsable picnic basket that doubles as a cooler.
I also use these metal bowls that come with lids to transport my picnic recipes. These nesting bowls also make great mixing bowls and food storage in general.
How to Make Gluten Free Pasta Salad – Step by Step
Step 1: Prepare pasta according to package instructions. After draining the pasta in the colander rinse with cool water.
Step 2: Drain can of black olives. Finely chop cucumber and red onion, quarter cherry tomatoes, and finely chop parsley and dill.
Step 3: In a small bowl whisk together vegetable stock, white wine vinegar, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
Step 4: Transfer drained and cooled pasta to a large mixing bowl. Add vegetables. Pour dressing over top. Add herbs. Fold together until ingredients are evenly distributed.
Top Tips for Making the Perfect Gluten Free Pasta Salad
Don’t Overcook the Pasta-Follow the instructions on the back of your gluten free pasta box for estimated time to cook, but taste before draining water to be sue it is cooked buy not overly cooked. You want your pasta to be al dente.
Finely Chop Vegetables and Herbs-Finely chopping the cucumber and onion, quartering the cherry tomatoes, and finely chopping the herbs helps them distribute more evenly throughout the dish.
Use Sliced Olives-To help you save some time on all the dicing and chopping, use black olives that are already sliced.
Can you eat gluten free pasta cold?
When it comes to pasta salad, eating it straight out of the fridge after it’s been stored, will result in a rather tough pasta. Allow pasta salad to come back to room temperature before eating.
How can I make gluten free pasta taste better?
Salt the Water-Be sure you salt the water before cooking the pasta. This will give it more flavor and keep it from sticking together.
Use a Large Pot-Use a large pasta pot with plenty of water. This allows the pasta enough room to cook.
Drain and Rinse-After draining the pasta, rinse with running water. This will remove any build up of film that is created during the cooking process.
Spicy-If you like more heat add red pepper flakes to your desired taste.
Different Herbs-If you don’t like dill or parsley you can add basil to this pasta dish for more of an Italian flare.
More Seasoning-If you prefer more seasoning I suggest adding a sprinkle of garlic powder, onion powder, or additional salt. Season to your taste preference.
Different Vegetables-If you have bell pepper, or other fresh vegetables you can include those as well. I think red bell pepper would be a nice addition.
Different Gluten Free Pasta Options-I used chickpea penne pasta for this dish, but other gluten free pasta options include lentil, quinoa, or brown rice pasta.
How to Serve and Keep
Serve-I served this pasta salad as a main dish for my family. We had a light fruit salad on the side. You can also serve this as a side dish for a crowd. It pairs well with other picnic and BBQ food like these Vegan Black Bean Burgers, or this Vegan Gazpacho.
- Fresh herbs
- Chopped scallions
- Seasoned salt
Keep-This pasta salad doesn’t include any dairy so it can easily be taken to a picnic. However, I recommend when not serving to store in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Pasta salad will keep for 3-4 days refrigerated. Allow pasta salad to return to room temperature before serving again.
Check out these other gluten free and vegan picnic recipes!
- Vegan Potato Salad
- Mango Cucumber Salad
- Mediterranean Cucumber Salad
- Vegan Broccoli Salad
- Italian Tomato Salad
- Vegan Baked Beans
If you’ve tried this Gluten Free Pasta Salad, please rate the recipe and let me know how it turned out. You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for more vegan plant-based family recipes your whole family will enjoy!
Gluten Free Pasta Salad | Vegan and Oil Free
- 16 oz gluten free penne chickpea pasta or other gluten free pasta of choice
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 3.5 oz can of sliced black olives
- 1/2 cup cucumber finely diced
- 1/4 cup red onion finely diced
- 1/4 cup fresh dill finely chopped
- 1/4 cup curly parsley finely chopped
Oil Free Italian Dressing
- 1/4 cup vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- Prepare pasta according to package instructions. After draining the pasta in the colander rinse with cool water to bring the temperature down.
- Drain can of black olives. Finely chop cucumber and red onion, quarter cherry tomatoes, and finely chop parsley and dill.
- In a small bowl whisk together vegetable stock, white wine vinegar, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
- Transfer drained and cooled pasta to a large mixing bowl. Add vegetables. Pour dressing over top. Add herbs. Fold together until ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Don’t Overcook the Pasta-Follow the instructions on the back of your gluten free pasta box. You want your pasta to be al dente.
- Finely Chop Vegetables and Herbs-Finely chopping the cucumber and onion, quartering the cherry tomatoes, and finely chopping the herbs helps them distribute more evenly throughout the dish.
- Use Sliced Olives-To help you save some time on all the dicing and chopping, use the black olives that are already sliced.