How to Make Gluten Free Pasta Salad That Tastes Fabulous ~ gluten free pasta is a great invention, but it doesn’t perform very well cold, which is big problem for summertime salads. I’ve got some tips and tricks to help you create the gluten free pasta salad of your dreams!
There’s lots to love about a great gluten free pasta. If you have to avoid gluten for health reasons, it’s a godsend, because who wants to go through life without pasta? And besides that, gluten free pastas can be super healthy, colorful, and delicious. They can also be gummy, mushy, and bland. Aaaaaaand they tend to get rock hard when refrigerated. Not so great when you want to make a pasta salad, huh?
Luckily I’ve got a few tips for working with gluten free pasta that’ll help you bring out its best qualities, and minimize the issues.
Choose a small sized, cut style pasta. Avoid long strands or anything overly thick. Try a variety of gf pastas until you find one you like, I used Trader Joe’s Red Lentil penne for this recipe.
Cook it in more water than you usually use, and salt it more than you usually do. Gluten free pasta is extra starchy and needs extra water to dilute that. It can be bland and salting the water heavily give it a chance to absorb flavor while it cooks.
Try adding smashed garlic cloves to the cooking water to enhance the flavor of typically bland gf pasta. This tip comes via Jen from Cooking Gluten Free.
Make sure to cook it until tender. I usually recommend al dente for hot pasta, but for a gluten free pasta salad you want to make sure the pasta is well cooked to begin with, because it will harden as it cools.
Add some of the dressing to the just cooked pasta, immediately after draining. This way it will absorb the flavors more easily and stay moister.
Plan on lots of add ins that provide texture, favor, and interest that gluten free pasta can lack.
Include some marinated items like sun dried tomatoes, olives, pickles, etc., they’re great flavor boosters.
Crumbled feta, blue, or other strong cheese is a good addition.
Taste and add more dressing just before serving. Gluten free pasta absorbs more than regular pasta, which makes it dry, so plan on extra dressing.
Plan to serve your pasta salad asap, as chilling hardens gluten free pasta. If you must refrigerate, bring it back to room temperature before serving.
Whether your pasta salad is gluten free or not, I love to pack it with color. Those bags of assorted baby peppers come in handy for bright pops of sweet color. And cherry tomatoes aren’t just red anymore, so shop the produce aisle for the full spectrum. One of my favorite additions is black olives for a nice contrast.
Try any of my other pasta salads with gluten free pasta ~ I love to pump up the add-ins in my pasta salads, so they will all work with gluten free pasta. Canned tuna adds lots of flavor to my Pasta Salad with Tuna, and the extra meat in my Meat Lovers Pasta Salad is a huge flavor booster, too.
- 12 ounces gluten free pasta
- minced red onion
- sliced black and /or green stuffed olives
- radishes, sliced or cut in small wedges
- toasted pine nuts
- 1/3 cup each:
- chopped bell peppers
- rainbow carrots, sliced
- cherry tomatoes, halved
- Persian cucumber, diced
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta, blue, or other cheese
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 Tbsp champagne vinegar (or your favorite)
- 1 tsp mustard
- 1 tsp honey
- squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- Cook the pasta in plenty of well salted water until completely tender. Taste often toward the end of cooking.
- Drain and rinse the pasta in cold water until it is cool, then drain again to remove any excess water. Put into a large serving bowl and toss with some of the dressing to moisten.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and toss gently to combine. Add dressing to taste, and garnish with crumbled cheese.