Healthy Pasta Salad
Published May 17, 2019, Updated Jul 14, 2023
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This lightened-up pasta salad is made with cucumbers, tomatoes and a basil balsamic dressing. It’s mayo-free, gluten-free and vegan but still super delicious!
I’m so excited to share this recipe with you because I know that you are going to LOVE this healthy version of the pasta salad my mom used to make every summer.
Swapping Mayo for a Balsamic Dressing
My mom’s traditional recipe calls for Miracle Whip… which isn’t exactly EBF friendly so I skipped it and used an olive oil-based balsamic dressing with fresh basil. Other than that the salad ingredients are all the same.
And Mom will be happy to know that I left the 1/2 teaspoon of sugar in the recipe. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but I think it really does add a little something to the salad. I went with coconut sugar to keep things more natural and unrefined. 🙂
Ingredients in Healthy Pasta Salad
Overall, this healthy pasta salad is quite a gem. It’s not only easy to prepare, but it requires only minimal ingredients and tastes so fresh and delicious. The recipe makes a ton so it’s also great for serving a crowd!
- gluten-free pasta noodles – I recommend using legume or quinoa-based pasta noodles so they’ll be naturally gluten-free and have a good amount of protein and fiber. Nutrient-dense pasta = so awesome!
- tomatoes – these little guys add such great flavor to the salad.
- cucumbers and red onion – for some added crunch.
- balsamic dressing – a super simple dressing made with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, coconut sugar, crushed red pepper, sea salt.
Notes & Substitutions
Mix-ins – Feel free to switch up your mix-ins for this pasta salad… I often do! Sometimes I change up the veggies based on what I have on hand. Feel free to get creative and make this your own!
Red onion – Not a fan of red onion feel free to use yellow onion instead.
Feta – Adding feta to this pasta salad would be a great addition if you don’t need it to be dairy free.
Avocado – Want to add a little creaminess and healthy fats to your pasta salad? Add in some chopped avocado!
Serving and Storing Pasta Salad
I love that this salad pairs well with just about any protein. It’s delicious served with my grilled apple cider vinegar chicken. I think the flavors go really well together. It’s also a perfect side for cookouts and potlucks.
To make it in advance: You can prep the salad the night before and let it chill in the fridge until serving.
To store leftovers: Store any leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
More Healthy Salads
- Ranch Pasta Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Lemon Orzo Salad
- Healthy Potato Salad
- Caprese Pasta Salad
- Low-Carb Cauliflower Potato Salad
- Vegan Pesto Pasta Salad
- Brussels Sprouts Chopped Salad
- Roasted Sweet Potato Salad
- Poppy Seed Chicken Pasta Salad
- Chicken Fajita Pasta Salad
- Tuna, Broccoli and Kale Caesar Pasta Salad
More Recipes for a Backyard Cookout
- Spinach and Feta Turkey Burgers
- BBQ Jackfruit
- Tempeh Veggie Burger
- Mixed Berry Fruit Salad
- Healthy Greek Yogurt Berry Tart
Healthy Pasta Salad
- 8 oz macaroni or penne pasta, I used gluten-free penne
- 2 cups tomatoes, chopped
- 2 cups cucumbers, peeled and chopped
- 3/4 cup red onion, chopped
- 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons basil, minced
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- Prep pasta: Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and run cold water over cooked pasta to cool.
- Mix ingredients: Add drained pasta into a large bowl with tomatoes, cucumber, and onion.
- Make dressing: Whisk together balsamic vinegar, basil, olive oil, coconut sugar, crushed red pepper and salt. Pour over salad ingredients and mix well.
- Serve: Refrigerate until cold. Serve and enjoy!
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.