Hi my friends, today is a glorious day because we are making pasta salad! Not just any pasta salad, it’s vegan, gluten free, and MAYO FREE!!!!
You know those pasta salads that are served cold, are super creamy, and have crunchy veggies in them? You know, the pasta salads that are brought to ALL the summer parties, picnics, pool parties, and pot lucks! Maybe they are just a Midwest staple? Either way, I’m sure you’ve had some kind of creamy cold pasta salad at some point in your life. It’s America and we like our mayonnaise – especially in the Midwest. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy mayonnaise on a sandwich or with my hard boiled eggs but sometimes it’s nice to sub in a healthier option for a pasta salad dressing that doesn’t involve a bunch of oil.
Can you guess the secret ingredient in this mayo free pasta salad?!?!?! CASHEWS! That’s right they strike again! That uber creamy, herb-y dressing you see coating each of those noodles is made with raw soaked cashews. Dear Raw Soaked Cashews, is there anything you can’t do?! Love, always and forever your biggest fan, Emily!
The other bonus to making our sauce for the pasta salad mayo free is that it is vegan – no eggs! So, pretty much anyone can eat the pasta salad, which is always a nice thing to consider when bringing food to parties. Sorry if you’re allergic to cashews though, bummer.
Let’s talk about the gluten free part of this recipe. Of course, you can use any kind of noodles to make this pasta salad that you want, gluten free or not. BUT I have to tell you about this amazing pasta I have discovered. It’s called Banza and it’s made from chickpeas! It’s gluten free, vegan, and packed with 14 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber per serving! I mean you could almost just eat pasta all by itself and call it dinner – ahh takes me back to my college days! The texture is pretty good, it may not taste exactly like regular pasta but as far as gluten free pastas go it’s better than most I have tried. Plus it holds together nicely when it’s leftover, which is not the norm for gluten free pastas.
If you haven’t noticed I don’t have very many pasta recipes on the blog. I have a whopping total of 2 recipes: Gluten Free Eggplant Parmesan and Gluten Free Gyro Bowls. That’s because I don’t really eat a whole lot of pasta these days – I love it but it usually doesn’t make me feel so great. I’m usually left feeling bloated and hypoglycemic-y. Now that I’ve found this chickpea pasta with all that protein and fiber I feel satisfied, nourished, and very stable and not at all hangry. Don’t be surprised if there are more pasta recipes soon! Anyways, I am not sponsored by Banza or paid by them in any way. I just wanted you to know my pasta journey and to tell you about a brand that you may enjoy! Yay for more pasta in my future!
Back to the mayo free pasta salad! As you learned from last Friday’s post I need a lot of easy, make ahead dishes that can be served cold and survive an hour long car ride. This recipe only takes 20 minutes to make and can be made up to 1 day ahead of time! It’s got plenty of noodles with all of the creamy, herb-y, tangy, slightly sweet sauce you could ever want and a ton of crunchy veggies. I mean, what’s a cold pasta salad without crunchy veggies, right? We’ve got red onion, celery, and green and red bell pepper – but you could add almost any kind of veggie you like. Carrots or olives would be a nice addition!
Best part about this pasta salad is between the mayo free dressing and the protien/fiber packed pasta you can feel good about going back for seconds. Because we all know that summer parties are all about second helpings, right?!
This pasta salad would also be great for a make ahead lunch or meal prep because it lasts in the fridge for 4 to 5 days! I’m not mad about that at all!
Looking for more make ahead salads for lunches or parties? Try our Spring Strawberry Basil Quinoa Salad, Classic Potato Salad, Mango Black Bean Quinoa Salad, Tropical Fruit Salsa, or my Marinated 3 Bean Salad – It’s salad season, that’s a beautiful thing!
- 8 ounces (4 cups when cooked) gluten free macaroni (or any small pasta shape)*
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 6 to 8 hours (or 1 hour in very hot water)
- ½ cup cold filtered water
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 to 2 tablespoons agave nectar (or more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon dried dill
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Veggies for salad:
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 2 to 3 ribs celery, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- Cook the pasta: Cook the pasta according to your package directions (mine took 7 to 8 minutes). Drain and allow to cool completely.
- Make the dressing: Drain and rinse the soaked cashews. Add the drained cashews and the liquids (not the spices/herbs) to the blender. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Add a little more water if too thin. Pulse in the herbs/spices. Taste and adjust as needed. Add more vinegar for more tang or more agave for a little more sweetness, or more dill for more herb-y flavor. Set aside.
- Assemble the Salad: Add the cooled pasta to a large mixing bowl. Add the chopped veggies and the sauce. Stir until everything is well combined.
- Chill: You could serve the pasta immediately. However it is best when it has chilled for at least 1 hour. Can be made up to 1 day ahead of time and lasts in your fridge for 4 to 5 days (maybe less depending on how well your gluten free pasta holds up).
Prep time does not reflect the inactive time needed to soak the cashews.
Recipe inspired by Minimalist Baker