This is not your regular pasta salad. In fact, Jack (who is not the biggest fan of pasta salads) said “holy crap, this pasta salad is SO good!” It’s of course heavy on the veggies, but unlike a lot of pasta salads, it’s light on the mayonnaise – in that it has none. With Memorial Day coming up, I figure you may need a packable potluck salad that won’t spoil if it sits out for awhile. This one, made with creamy tahini, is just right for that.
Healthy Pasta Salad Tips
- The key to healthy pasta salad is to go with a high ratio of veggies to pasta. Not only do veggies boost the nutrition level of your salad, but blanched broccoli, crunchy green beans, and thinly sliced (or spiralized) zucchini also add tons of texture and flavor here.
- Make a punchy dressing. For this salad, I chose a dressing made from tahini, lemon, olive oil, garlic, and a touch of Dijon. As a result, this salad is vegan, but it still has a creamy, satisfying sauce and bright flavor.
- I find that everyone has some sort of dietary restriction these days (raising my hand just a little), so I used gluten free fusilli. Consequently, this salad is entirely vegan and gluten free. I think it’s easier – and more fun – to bring a delicious dish that everyone can enjoy to gatherings.
- Make a big batch! This salad keeps well for several days, so if you make extra ahead of time, you’ll be set with healthy lunches for a week.
Healthy Pasta Salad Ingredients
This salad is LOADED with good things, including:
- Blanched broccoli and green beans – They pack this salad with green and add crispy, crunchy texture.
- Noodles – Because you can’t have pasta salad without pasta, I chose a fun fusilli to bulk this salad up. If you’re not gluten-free, use whatever pasta you like, but we enjoyed the gluten-free noodles in this dish.
- Spiralized zucchini – Since I was going for a high veggie:pasta ratio, spiralized zucchini was an obvious choice to add more “noodles” to this salad without using actual pasta!
- Cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes – They have fresh, tangy, umami flavor, and I love their bright red color!
- Basil – Who doesn’t love basil in the summertime? It adds a nice freshness here.
- Pine nuts – For crunch!
- A creamy tahini dressing – This bright, dairy-free dressing ties it all together.
- 3 cups small broccoli florets
- 1 cup cut green beans
- 2 cups uncooked gluten free fusilli pasta
- 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced and cut into half moons (or spiralized)
- 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
- 4 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons water
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, mustard, maple syrup, salt and water. Set aside.
- Prepare a large pot of salted boiling water and a large bowl of ice water. Drop the broccoli and green beans into the boiling water and blanch for 1-2 minutes, until tender but still bright green. Remove and immediately immerse in the ice water to stop the cooking processing. Keep in the ice water long enough to cool completely, about 15 seconds. Then, drain and and place on a kitchen towel to dry.
- In a large pot of salted boiling water, prepare the pasta according to the instructions on the package, cooking until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- In a large bowl, combine the broccoli, green beans, zucchini, tomatoes, basil and the pasta. Drizzle with the dressing and toss. Season to taste. Sprinkle with the pine nuts and chill for 15 minutes. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.