This is the BEST pasta salad for summer picnics and barbecues! It’s super easy, vegan, gluten-free, full of flavor, and the perfect BBQ side dish! I've had people I serve this to tell me it's their favorite pasta salad ever. Not to toot my own horn, but it's definitely a winner!
Vegan & Gluten-free Pasta Salad
When the weather gets warmer, I like to start incorporating more "clean eating" meals like salads. But if you know me, you know I'm not a big fan of salads. They just don't excite me! But throw in lots of roasted vegetables and gluten-free pasta to it? I'm converted into a salad lover!
This salad is abundant with colorful fresh veggies, flavorful balsamic vinaigrette with roasted garlic, and pasta. It's vegan too, but it's chockful of flavor that it's incredibly satisfying! It's the perfect side dish to any BBQ!
What goes in a pasta salad?
A good pasta salad for me is loaded with vegetables! Anything goes, but I love a variety and I want it to be colorful. Here are the vegetables I used in this pasta salad:
- Bell peppers
Since I don't own a grill, I roast my veggies in the oven. I can let the oven do its work without me standing in front of a pan stirring! Roasting also intensifies the flavors, which means I don't need to add a lot of seasonings because they'll be delicious as is.
I also think it's important to have a variety of textures! I like to add finely chopped onions for a little crunch, but you could also add some toasted sunflower seeds.
What's the best gluten free pasta for pasta salad?
When making pasta salad, choose a short cut pasta with lots of nooks and crannies to hold the dressing. My favorite pasta shape for pasta salad has to be fusilli or rotini!
Also, cook the pasta a minute or two past al dente. Pasta gets hard as it cools, so giving it extra cooking time keeps it moist. Just don't overcook and let it get mushy!
Roasted garlic vinaigrette
Roasted garlic is the key ingredient that makes this the best pasta salad! Raw garlic can be sharp and spicy, but when you roast it, it caramelizes and turns nutty. It also turns soft and mushy, making it easy to incorporate it into the balsamic vinaigrette! One less thing to chop? Count me in!
How to make super easy vegan & gluten-free pasta salad
This gluten free pasta salad is SUPER easy to make. Are you ready?
The first step is to roast the garlic. Cut the entire head of garlic in half, drizzle some olive oil on the cloves and sprinkle some salt. Put the garlic halves back together, wrap it up with aluminum foil and bake it in the preheated oven.
Once it's done, take the garlic out of the oven and begin roasting the chopped veggies. While the veggies are roasting, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook the pasta. Don't forget to cook it a minute or two longer than the package suggests!
While you're waiting for the pasta to cook, make the vinaigrette. Put the roasted garlic cloves into a large bowl along with balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and whisk until combined. Add the cooked and drained pasta along with the chopped onion, olives, and roasted veggies and toss. Add black pepper to taste, and let it cool slightly before adding the baby greens.
It takes a little long to make since we're roasting the garlic, but the oven's doing most of the work so it's super easy!
More gluten-free pasta!
The Best Easy Pasta Salad
- 12 oz / 340g gluten-free pasta
- 1 head garlic
- 2 small (or 1 large) bell peppers
- 2 small (or 1 large) zucchini
- 10 asparagaus
- 8 cremini mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (to roast the vegetables)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup / 78g pitted green olives, finely chopped
- 5 oz / 143g baby greens
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.
- Without peeling the garlic, slice the whole head of garlic in half and drizzle some olive oil on the exposed surface, sprinkle a pinch of salt, close the garlic and wrap it up with aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes.
- While the garlic is roasting, chop the bell peppers, zucchini, asparagus, and cremini mushrooms into 1-inch pieces. Toss with olive oil and lay them out on a baking sheet in an even layer.
- Take the garlic out of the oven once it's finished roasting, and put the chopped vegetables in the oven and roast for 25-30 minutes. Toss halfway through.
- Boil a large pot of water and add a good pinch of salt. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions, adding a minute to the cooking time.
- While the pasta is cooking, add the roasted garlic, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and salt in a large bowl and whisk until combined. Add the cooked and drained pasta along with the chopped onion, olives, and roasted veggies to the bowl and toss. Add black pepper to taste, and let it cool slightly before adding the baby greens.
- Let the pasta salad rest for 30 minutes to an hour before serving it, to let the flavors meld.