So GoodJune/July 2008 Issue

Perfect Gluten-Free Pasta Salads

My first reaction to learning that I was gluten intolerant was not the loss of bread and pastries – it was the pasta. I simply could not imagine a happy life without it. Fortunately, there are plenty of tasty gluten-free pastas on the market. These products don’t perform exactly like their conventional equivalents – cooking times vary, shapes differ – but they have excellent flavor and satisfying texture.

Use gluten-free pasta to make your favorite noodle, macaroni or pasta salad. Whatever you call it, this versatile dish is quick and easy to prepare. We’ve added a healthy, dairy-free slant with recipes that punch up the nutrients by using fresh produce. And we’ve included several salads that have an exotic international flair to spice up this ever-popular picnic standard.

Asian Pasta Salad

SERVES 4 TO 6

A few Asian ingredients give this dish the flavor of the Far East. Seasonal veggies add color and crunch.

Vinaigrette

2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice seasoning
1 tablespoon gluten-free soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil

Salad

½ pound gluten-free pasta
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1 cup broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup bean sprouts
½ cup pea pods, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, minced
¼ cup coarsely chopped cashews or peanuts, optional

1. Cook ½ pound gluten-free pasta in boiling salted water according to manufacturer’s directions, being careful not to overcook. Test the pasta a few minutes before the recommended cooking time to ensure a good result. After cooking the pasta, rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well and toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil to keep pasta from sticking.

2. To make vinaigrette, whisk together all ingredients except the oil. Drizzle oil into vinaigrette mixture while continuing to whisk until dressing begins to emulsify and thicken. Add remaining oil and blend thoroughly. Set aside.

3. Combine remaining salad ingredients and fold them into cooled pasta.

4. Drizzle vinaigrette over pasta. Toss gently until salad is lightly coated with dressing. Serve cold or at room temperature.


Gazpacho Pasta Salad

SERVES 4 TO 6

Vine-ripened tomatoes, rich in vitamin C and antioxidant lycopene, complement the fresh herbs and green onion in this chilled salad.

Vinaigrette

2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil

Salad

½ pound gluten-free pasta
3–4 ribs celery, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 large red or yellow sweet peppers, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cucumber, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 pounds tomatoes, cut into bite- sized pieces
1 bunch green onions, sliced
¼ cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

1. Cook ½ pound gluten-free pasta in boiling salted water according to manufacturer’s directions, being careful not to overcook. Test the pasta a few minutes before the recommended cooking time to ensure a good result. After cooking the pasta, rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well and toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil to keep pasta from sticking.

2. To make vinaigrette, whisk together all ingredients except the oil. Drizzle oil into vinaigrette mixture while continuing to whisk until dressing begins to emulsify and thicken. Add remaining oil and blend thoroughly. Set aside.

3. Combine remaining salad ingredients and fold them into cooled pasta.

4. Drizzle vinaigrette over pasta. Toss gently until salad is lightly coated with dressing. Serve cold.


Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad

SERVES 4 TO 6

Grilling vegetables intensifies their flavors. They should be cooled before adding to salad.

Vinaigrette

2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil

Salad

½ pound gluten-free pasta
3 medium zucchini and/or yellow squash, sliced horizontally to grill
1 large eggplant, unpeeled and sliced
1 red onion, thickly sliced
3 large sweet peppers, grilled whole and then cut into bite-sized pieces
3 large Portobello mushrooms, grilled whole and then sliced

1. Cook ½ pound gluten-free pasta in boiling salted water according to manufacturer’s directions, being careful not to overcook. Test the pasta a few minutes before the recommended cooking time to ensure a good result. After cooking the pasta, rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well and toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking.

2. To make vinaigrette, whisk together all ingredients except the oil. Drizzle oil into vinaigrette mixture while continuing to whisk until dressing begins to emulsify and thicken. Add remaining oil and blend thoroughly. Set aside.

3. Combine remaining salad ingredients and fold them into cooled pasta.

4. Drizzle vinaigrette over pasta. Toss gently until salad is lightly coated with dressing. Serve cold or at room temperature.


Mexican Pasta Salad

SERVES 4 TO 6

A nourishing vegetarian entrée (black beans and pasta together make a complete protein) that highlights the flavors of Mexico.

Vinaigrette

1 shallot, minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon gluten-free chili powder or cumin
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil

Salad

½ pound gluten-free pasta
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
½ sweet onion, chopped
1 cup corn, frozen (thawed) or fresh cut off cob
1 large sweet pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 pounds tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
¼ cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 chopped jalapeno pepper,optional

1. Cook ½ pound gluten-free pasta in boiling salted water according to manufacturer’s directions, being careful not to overcook. Test the pasta a few minutes before the recommended cooking time to ensure a good result. After cooking the pasta, rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well and toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking.

2. To make vinaigrette, whisk together all ingredients except the oil. Drizzle oil into vinaigrette mixture while continuing to whisk until dressing begins to emulsify and thicken. Add remaining oil and blend thoroughly. Set aside.

3. Combine remaining salad ingredients and fold them into cooled pasta.

4. Drizzle vinaigrette over pasta. Toss gently until salad is lightly coated with dressing. Serve cold or at room temperature.


Pizza Pasta Salad

SERVES 4 TO 6

A cool, refreshing alternative to gluten-free pizza on a hot summer day.

Vinaigrette

2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil

Salad

½ pound gluten-free pasta
2 pounds tomatoes, cut into
    bite-sized pieces
½ red onion chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 large sweet pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
¼ cup sliced olives, green or black
Cooked gluten-free sausage or pepperoni, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes, optional

1. Cook ½ pound gluten-free pasta in boiling salted water according to manufacturer’s directions, being careful not to overcook. Test the pasta a few minutes before the recommended cooking time to ensure a good result. After cooking the pasta, rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well and toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil to keep pasta from sticking.

2. To make vinaigrette, whisk together all ingredients except the oil. Drizzle oil into vinaigrette mixture while continuing to whisk until dressing begins to emulsify and thicken. Add remaining oil and blend thoroughly. Set aside.

3. Combine remaining salad ingredients and fold them into cooled pasta.

4. Drizzle vinaigrette over pasta. Toss gently until salad is lightly coated with dressing. Serve cold or at room temperature.


Indian Pasta Salad

SERVES 4 TO 6

Indian cuisine offers sweet and spicy flavors. Top with toasted unsweetened coconut and golden raisins.

Vinaigrette

1 shallot, minced
½ teaspoon salt
½–1 teaspoon gluten-free curry
    powder, to taste
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil

Salad

½ pound gluten-free pasta
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
½ red onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, sliced thin
1 large sweet pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup snap peas or peapods, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 mango, cut into bite-sized pieces
¼ cup cilantro, coarsely chopped

1. Cook ½ pound gluten-free pasta in boiling salted water according to manufacturer’s directions, being careful not to overcook. Test the pasta a few minutes before the recommended cooking time to ensure a good result. After cooking the pasta, rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well and toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking.

2. To make vinaigrette, whisk together all ingredients except the oil. Drizzle oil into vinaigrette mixture while continuing to whisk until dressing begins to emulsify and thicken. Add remaining oil and blend thoroughly. Set aside.

3. Combine remaining salad ingredients and fold them into cooled pasta.

4. Drizzle vinaigrette over pasta. Toss gently until salad is lightly coated with dressing. Serve cold or at room temperature.


Asparagus Pasta Salad

SERVES 4 TO 6

Heart-healthy asparagus is a good source of folate and potassium. It also contains inulin, a carb that helps promote healthy digestion.

Salad

½ pound gluten-free pasta
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup grilled, roasted or steamed asparagus cut into
    bite-sized pieces
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, not marinated,
    drained, coarsely chopped
1 bunch chopped arugula (or watercress or other dark
    leafy green)
Zest of fresh lemon (use juice in vinaigrette)

Vinaigrette

2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Juice of one lemon
6 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon dried tarragon or 1½ teaspoons fresh tarragon

1. Cook ½ pound gluten-free pasta in boiling salted water according to manufacturer’s directions, being careful not to overcook. Test the pasta a few minutes before the recommended cooking time to ensure a good result. After cooking the pasta, rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well and toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking.

2. To make vinaigrette, whisk together all ingredients except the oil. Drizzle oil into vinaigrette mixture while continuing to whisk until dressing begins to emulsify and thicken. Add remaining oil and blend thoroughly. Set aside.

3. Combine remaining salad ingredients and fold them into cooled pasta.

4. Drizzle vinaigrette over pasta. Toss gently until salad is lightly coated with dressing. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Sueson Vess is the author of Special Eats. Click here to purchase.

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