Pasta Salad

When it comes to pasta salad, there really are two different types of people out there: those that prefer the creamy mayo-based macaroni style versus those that love their pasta coated with Italian-style dressing.

I fall into the latter category.  

If you like the creamy mayo-based macaroni style... STOP READING.  Just kidding!  There's always time to change.

For as long as I can remember, I've had a love affair with pasta salad.  It satisfied my constant cravings for all the carbs while forcing me to actually enjoy my veggies.  It was easy to make, always filling, and every bit addicting.  My favorite part was that I could easily add any veggies I was into at the moment, but the repertoire usually consisted of some combination from the following: red peppers, purple cabbage, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, scallions and red onions. 

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Since I was forced to eliminate gluten from my diet in 2013, I struggled for a long time to find a gluten free pasta that was a good match for pasta salad.  So many pastas that I tried didn't stand up well to cold temperatures, taking on a flaky and gritty consistency once cooled.  It made me very sad to think that I possibly couldn't enjoy one of my favorite dishes with my new eating restrictions.  

With much trial and error and even more determination, I've finally been able to perfect it!  Just like the good ole days.  My secret weapon?  Trader Joe's brown rice fusilli.  I'm sure there are other gluten free pastas that would work well, but I stumbled across this one and now there's no looking back.  But if you've found another brand that you love making a cold pasta salad with, drop me a note in the comments - would love to hear what you use!

I've made this salad for various gatherings with friends and family and everyone always says how delicious it is.  "It's really gluten free?" YES!!

This recipe also couldn't be easier.   Here's the gist: you cook the pasta al dente, add in your chopped veggies of choice, add some gluten free salad dressing and toss together.  Voila! 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of brown rice fusilli (I prefer Trader Joe's)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 4-6 sprigs of scallions, chopped thinly
  • 1/4 head of purple cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 1 bottle of gluten free Italian dressing (you won't need it all)
  • Optional: any other veggies!

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta in salted pasta water to specifications on packaging.  I like to cook mine until it is al dente (still has a chew), usually a minute or two before the instructions say so.  Don't let it get mushy!  It will soften a bit more once tossed with the dressing.
  2. Drain the pasta and immediately rinse in cold water.  Let the water drain.
  3. Transfer the pasta to a large mixing bowl.  The pasta should still be a little warm.  Immediately, pour the dressing over the pasta.  Depending on how much pasta you cook, you won't need to add nearly the whole bottle, so maybe start with 1/4 to 1/2.  Mix to incorporate.  *It's important to remember that you can always add more dressing, but you can't take it out once you pour it in!
  4. Add in the veggies.  Toss together.  If the salad is still a bit thirsty, add a little more dressing.  
  5. Leave at room temperature if you'll be enjoying shortly after, or transfer to the fridge!  If you do put it in the fridge, you may need to add a bit more dressing right before serving.  It's up to you!