Super easy Gluten Free Pasta Salad starts with the best pasta, salami, fresh tomatoes, artichoke hearts, feta cheese and tossed with a simple homemade zesty dressing.
This hearty and delicious gluten free pasta salad recipe is one of my favorite cold sides during summer time. It's rich in flavor, textures, and when sourced right, can be abundant in nutrition.
It's a great salad to bring to potlucks, to serve at parties, and to pack in picnic or school lunches.
Why you need this Gluten-Free Pasta Salad
There are several benefits this easy recipe offers that makes it a winner!
This Pasta Salad is versatile.
We'll dive into the specifics below but suffice it to say that this salad is very accommodating with the ingredients that you have on hand. Gluten free products have come a long way and we now have a vast selection of great-tasting pastas with superb ingredient list.
As far as other ingredients go - these are just a general idea of what an easy and healthy pasta salad should look like. It should be rich with fresh veggies like red onion, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, and even snap peas make a great addition.
Out of red onions? Use white onion instead. Add pepperoni for a kick and use Parmesan cheese if you don't have feta. Or omit the cheese for a completely dairy free pasta salad.
Pasta salad can easily be tailored to fit your taste buds and nutritional needs.
This Pasta Salad is healthy.
If chowing down a bunch of carbs isn't your idea of healthy -you can swap the pasta with zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash to keep it completely grain free.
Check it out! How to Cook Spaghetti Squash for Longest Strands
You can always add more vegetables to bump up the nutrients.
But don't forget: when sourced right, meats and cheeses may outperform when it comes to nutrient content. For example, cured salami (which is fermented) contains microorganisms and good bacteria that help promote digestion. And feta cheese can be subbed with raw cheddar for an extra source of enzymes.
This Pasta Salad is easy.
One the reasons pasta salads are great for potlucks and parties is that they make such a perfect side dish that the whole family will love. It's simple yet filling and fancy enough for a dinner party!
For that reason, the ingredient list is intentionally short and the salad dressing consists of only 3 main ingredients plus salt and pepper.
Another perk is that this healthy Pasta Salad recipe can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, making this a great option for meal prep or large party.
Make it Nutrient-Dense: Source the best quality ingredients your budget allows. Truly cured salami contains microorganisms and good bacteria that helps promote digestion.
What is the best gluten-free pasta for Pasta Salad?
Gluten free pastas have come a long way. We currently have a vast selection of pastas made out of different grains and legumes available to us in grocery stores. Manufacturers were quick to jump on this very important need for gluten free products.
But unfortunately, in doing so, many corporations have also exploited the health needs of people to line their pockets by using cheap ingredients like corn flour (likely GMO) and diglycerides.
It's important to note that the easiest way to make sure any product is healthy is by checking the ingredient list. If you can't recognize the ingredients, your body won't either.
My favorite pastas are those made with ancient grains (quinoa, millet, buckwheat) or vegetable pastas. These are a few great options:
- Buckwheat Pasta - these organic, non-GMO, gluten free pastas are a great option for gluten free pasta salad. Choose from fussili, penne, or elbows.
- Brown Rice Pasta - one of my favorite brands for gluten and gluten free products alike
- Veggie Pasta - this brand has 4 flavors to choose from but I would go with a mild one such as the Superfood White
Good to Know: The best gluten-free pastas are those made with sprouted ancient grains like buckwheat, quinoa, and brown rice.
How to Cook Gluten-Free Pasta
Cooking gluten-free pasta so it doesn't become a mushy mess can be a little tricky. Regular pasta is less finicky but gluten-free options needs some extra TLC. Follow these easy tips to making the Gluten-Free Pasta Salad of your dreams.
Step 1. Check the package instructions: you want to cook the pasta according to package instructions but set the timer for 2 minutes shy of the time called for to make sure pasta comes out al dente.
Step 2. Cook in plenty of water: make sure the large pot with water will accommodate pasta as it expands. Fill ⅔ of the pot with water.
Step 3. Generously salt the water: pasta loves salt and gluten free pasta is no exception. Make sure your pasta water is seasoned with lots of good quality salt. A good rule of thumb is to use 1 tablespoon for every 8 ounces of pasta.
Step 4. Add oil to the pasta water: this will help avoid the pasta from sticking to each other. This tip is especially important with gluten free pasta. Just a glug or two will do.
Step 5. Stir gluten free pasta often: stir every 30 seconds or so for the first 5 minutes of cooking to keep the pasta from sticking to each other. This will also disperse the olive oil between the pasta.
Step 6. Strain and rinse with cold water: but keep the rinsing brief (no more than 8 seconds) as you want the pasta to cool down naturally.
Step 7. Toss pasta with olive oil: after the quick rinse, return the pasta back to pot and toss immediately with extra virgin olive oil. While working on the salad component of the pasta salad, check in with pasta and give a quick stir to make sure the pasta doesn't stick together.
What are the ingredients in Gluten-Free Pasta Salad?
- Gluten-Free Pasta: Check out any of the above great gluten-free options
- Salami: truly cured and fermented salami is best
- Tomatoes: grape or cherry tomatoes are best but any fresh tomatoes will work
- Bell pepper: any bright-colored bell pepper is the best option
- Red onion: this mildly flavored onion adds a pop of color and great flavor
- Artichoke hearts: adds great texture and flavor
- Kalamata olives: black olives will work in a pinch but not give the authentic pasta salad flavor
- Feta cheese: omit if dairy free but adds great flavor
- Basil: this aromatic herb adds tremendous flavor - a little goes a long way
- Dressing ingredients: extra-virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, fresh garlic, salt and pepper
Pro tip: Use olive oil from this garlic confit recipe for that infused garlic flavor.
As mentioned above, the fresh vegetables can be interchanged as needed. Broccoli florets, cauliflower, and snap peas are all great additions.
Suggested Substitutions and Variations
This salad can be adapted to meet any dietary need, whether you are low carb/keto, paleo, GAPS, or Whole 30. Additionally, this salad is naturally metabolically supportive as it already contains the three macro nutrients: healthy fats, carbs, and protein.
But with just a few minor tweaks, you can make this salad to suit your lifestyle.
Low Carb & Keto Pasta Salad: use zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash instead of gluten-free pasta, reduce tomatoes to 1 cup, and add a diced avocado to increase the fat content. (related post: How to Cook Spaghetti Squash for Longest Strands)
Paleo & Whole30 Pasta Salad: as in low-carb and keto pasta salad, use zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash instead of the pasta, skip the feta to make it dairy free, and be extra sure that the salami, olives and artichoke hearts are free from additives or sugars.
GAPS or SCD Pasta Salad: sub zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash for pasta and use grilled chicken in place of salami.
Did you know? Gluten Free Pasta Salad is naturally metabolically supportive with its' macro nutrient profile: carbs, protein, and healthy fats. But it can easily be tweaked to accommodate low carb/keto, Paleo, GAPS, or Whole30 healing diet.
Frequently Asked Questions & Tips
Gluten-free pasta doesn't have offer much by way of taste but when tossed with fresh vegetables and a simple Italian vinaigrette, it certainly comes alive.
Yes. Cold pasta salad is truly one of my most favorite things to eat during the summer months. When everything is tossed well, return this easy pasta salad to the refrigerator so it completely cools down and give the flavors an opportunity to meld together.
If stored properly in an airtight container in the refrigerator, this gluten-free pasta salad will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator. You may extend that by a few days by omitting tomatoes as they release lots of juice when combined.
Make-Ahead Tips for Pasta Salad
This salad is a great option for meal prep, potlucks, and parties. When cooked right, gluten free pasta holds it's shape fairly well.
Make-ahead tip: Toss the pasta well with extra virgin olive oil and keep separate from the rest of the ingredients. You may do this up to one week in advance. You may also add salami, feta cheese, artichoke hearts, and olives together. Reserve the veggies for until closer to serving day so they don't lose their crunchiness.
Prepare all the veggies and salad dressing. Set aside until ready to serve or toss together with the rest of the salad and keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
To store: This gluten-free pasta salad is best stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Storage containers: To meal prep this salad, convenient jars like these mason jars or weck jars works the best. To store, these glass containers are ideal for stacking other foods in the refrigerator.
Helpful Tip: To extend life of the salad, cook pasta according to package instructions, prepare all veggies, and salad dressing but don't toss together until ready to serve.
How to make Gluten-Free Pasta Salad
The printable full recipe is below in the recipe card for your convenience.
This super easy Gluten Free Pasta Salad starts with your choice of gluten free pasta, diced salami, feta cheese for a Mediterranean flare, artichoke hearts and Kalamata olives for an extra dose of healthy fats, cherry tomatoes, red onion, fresh basil, all wrapped up in a zesty 3-ingredient garlic dressing.
Step 1. Cook the gluten free pasta according to package directions and helpful tips in this post.
Step 2. Prepare the rest of the salad ingredients and the easy dressing.
Step 3: Combine everything together and enjoy!
Helpful Tools & Links
Below are some links that may be helpful to you as you make this recipe. You can find some of these items cheaper at your local store but it helps to have a link so you know what you're looking for.
- Tools: chef knife, cutting board, large mixing bowl,
- Ingredients: real salt, black pepper, extra virgin olive oil
- Storage Supplies: wide-mouth mason jars, Weck jars, glass containers
More Ways to Love Salads
This easy Pasta Salad is a great party/potluck/picnic food but there are other recipes that may fit that bill. Check these recipes out:
Did you make this? Please leave a ⭐ recipe rating in the recipe card below and leave a review in the comments. Thank you!💚
Gluten Free Pasta Salad
- 8 ounces gluten free pasta see notes
- 4 ounces salami diced
- 2 cups grape tomatoes halved
- ½ cup bell pepper (red, orange, or yellow is best) sliced
- ½ cup red onion sliced
- 1 cup artichoke hearts, marinated chopped
- ½ cup kalamata olives halved
- ½ cup feta cheese cubed
- 5-6 leaves fresh basil chiffoned
- Cook pasta according to package instructions in generously salted water. Rinse in cool water and toss with oil to avoid sticking. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Combine all ingredients for the dressing in a small mason jar and shake to mix well.
- Toss all ingredients together with the dressing. Reserve some chiffonade basil to garnish on top.
- Cook gluten free pasta in a large pot and allow plenty water for pasta to expand
- Generously salt the pasta water - use at least a tablespoon of good quality salt to cook gluten free pasta
- Add a glug of extra virgin olive oil to the pasta water to avoid pasta sticking together
- Cook gluten free pasta al dente (there should be a slight bite to it) - set a timer for 2 minutes shy of the time called for on the package instructions
- Strain the pasta, rinse and immediately toss with extra virgin olive oil
- Low Carb & Keto Pasta Salad: use zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash instead of gluten-free pasta, reduce tomatoes to 1 cup, and add a diced avocado to increase the fat content. How to Cook Spaghetti Squash for Longest Strands
- Paleo & Whole30 Pasta Salad: as in low-carb and keto pasta salad, use zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash instead of the pasta, skip the feta to make it dairy free, and be sure that the salami, olives and artichoke hearts are free from additives or sugars.
- GAPS or SCD Pasta Salad: sub zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash for pasta and use grilled chicken in place of salami.
The information shown is an estimate provided for your convenience by an online calculator. It should not be considered as a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice. See our complete Nutritional Information Disclaimer.
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This post was originally published February 2019 but has since been updated to include helpful information.