Just because you’re on a gluten-free diet doesn’t mean you have to miss out on pasta salad. In fact, my gluten-free pasta salad recipe rivals any pasta salad recipe around. It’s made with fresh and simple ingredients too. All the details are below. This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosures.
Summer is the time for backyard BBQs and potluck dinners. One delicious and highly-sought after side dish is my gluten-free pasta salad made with my homemade Italian dressing.
Let’s dig into what it takes to make a successful gluten-free pasta salad.
The Gluten-Free Pasta
No pasta salad would be complete without gluten-free pasta, and there are plenty of great options to choose from these days. I like to use one of two brands for my pasta salad. Both are brown rice pastas, which I think offer the best taste and texture.
Tinkyada brown rice pasta is a favorite and I can always find it in stock at most grocery stores and Walmart. I like the spirals because all the crevices catch extra dressing, but you could also use a penne, shells or tube-shaped pasta. Tinkyada has them all.
The other brand I like is Jovial brown rice pasta, again, because it has a great texture. You can also find Jovial brown rice pastas at most grocery stores and Walmart.
You’ll cook the pasta as instructed on the packaging, and then drain and rinse it with cold water so the pasta is cool to the touch.
Most people in the gluten-free community already know that salad dressing is a huge source for hidden gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and sometimes oats. Plus, salad dressing contains some unsavory ingredients like excess sugar, preservatives and food dyes.
For my gluten-free pasta salad, I make my own homemade Italian dressing and it tastes fresh and better than anything you could buy in the store.
To make homemade Italian dressing, which you’ll pour over the assembled pasta salad, you’ll combine the following ingredients in a jar. I just use an old jar that I washed out and saved. You’ll want to shake the ingredients vigorously until everything is well combined. You’ll need:
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp basil, dried
- 1/2 tsp oregano, dried
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp parsley, dried
- 3/4 tsp Kosher salt
- Fresh ground pepper, to taste
As long as you have the pasta and the dressing in place, the rest of the ingredients can be assembled to your taste.
However, I think the following ingredients make for winning combination.
- 1/2 English cucumber, diced
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced
- 1/4 cup red onions, diced
- 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, diced
- 10 basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, sliced
Feel free to add other ingredients you have in your fridge. A pasta salad is a great way to use up extra vegetables like spinach and peppers. Other ingredients to include might be Italian meats, chickpeas, corn, capers, fresh mint, feta cheese and more!
Add your cooked and cooled pasta to a large bowl, then add all the salad ingredients followed by the dressing. Mix everything well and enjoy. You can refrigerate the pasta overnight; I think it tastes even better the next day after it’s all had time to meld together.
A Versatile Dish
This gluten-free pasta salad is a versatile dish and works in a variety of situations.
Meal Prepping. Make this gluten-free pasta salad on Sunday and enjoy it for lunch all week long. For more gluten-free lunch ideas, visit my post, 42 Gluten-Free Lunch Ideas For Kids and Adults. I also send it for lunch with my kids – easy peasy!
Potluck Dinners. Bring a big bowl of this tasty gluten-free pasta salad to your next potluck dinner – especially BBQs and cookouts. No one has to know it’s gluten free. Shhh!
Make It Dairy Free. This dish can easily be made dairy free by omitting the fresh mozzarella and parmesan cheese. The dressing is naturally dairy free as is. You can add Italian meats, chickpeas, and/or kidney beans to add protein.
Concerned about Gluten in Spices? There are a lot of rumors about gluten in spices, but in general, you have nothing to worry about if the only ingredient in the jar is the intended spice. Read my article, A Complete List of Gluten-Free Spices, to put your mind at ease.
Try these side salads, too:
- Black Bean and Corn Salad with Chipotle Lime Dressing
- Mediterranean Cucumber Salad
- My Famous Gluten-Free Greek Salad
- Cauliflower Tabbouleh Salad without the Gluten
Gluten-Free Pasta Salad
- 16 ounces brown rice pasta see notes
- 1/2 English cucumber diced
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes sliced
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives sliced
- 1/4 cup red onion diced
- 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella cheese diced
- 10 basil leaves roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese shredded
- Prepare the pasta as instructed on the packaging. Drain the pasta and run it under cold water. You want the pasta to be fully cooled before adding the salad ingredients and dressing.
- Combine all the dressing ingredients in a jar. Vigorously shake the jar so all the ingredients are well combined.
- Add the prepared salad ingredients on top of the pasta, then pour the dressing over everything. Mix well and serve immediately. Alternatively, you could refrigerate the pasta salad overnight and enjoy the next day. It will keep in your fridge for 5-6 days.