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!
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.
8ozmacaroni or penne pasta, I used gluten-free penne
2cupscucumbers, peeled and chopped
3/4cupred onion, chopped
1/4teaspooncrushed red pepper
1 1/2teaspoonssea 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!
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!Dressing – I love the balsamic dressing paired with this salad but any dressing would work if you’re in a pinch. Some options: Greek Salad Dressing, white balsamic vinaigrette or lemon vinaigrette.