Vegan Bento Boxes! Nut Free & Gluten Free Back to School Recipes
Hawaiian Style Vegan Pasta Salad – Made with Gluten Free Pasta!
Add more fuel and fun to lunchtime with this Hawaiian style vegan pasta salad! It’s rich and creamy yet satisfyingly crunchy, thanks to all of the fresh, crisp veggies. And, to keep this vegan pasta salad dairy-free, I made my dressing using coconut milk yogurt instead of mayo or traditional yogurt!
It’s a simple plant-based swap, but the slight natural sweetness of coconut works perfectly in this Hawaiian-inspired recipe. With the pineapple chunks and juice, sweet pickles, carrots, and bell pepper, you get to enjoy a sweet and savory flavor experience!
If you didn’t need this to be a vegan pasta salad, you could also add some diced ham for that classic Hawaiian combo. And a boost of satiating protein!
Maximize the Fuel in Your Vegan Pasta Salad
Plus, you can choose ANY pasta you like to make this classic lunch more nutritious. In this vegan pasta salad recipe, I used a red lentil pasta for added protein, fiber, and that vibrant purple color! But, you could also try a bean-based pasta or even just whole-wheat noodles—whatever you enjoy eating.
The key to making this easy vegan lunch as nutritious as possible is knowing how to choose healthy pasta options. Traditional pasta is made from a refined wheat flour, known as semolina flour—which is admittedly super tasty, but not-so-nutritious. Instead, you can choose from a range of more wholesome choices for your vegan pasta salad.
Whole vs. Refined Grains
Opt for whole-grain pastas or a totally grain-free pasta—like the lentil pasta I used in this colorful recipe! It cooks up the same as regular pasta and is just as easy to prepare, it’s just a bit chewier in texture.
That’s because the grains in traditional pastas have gone through LOTS of refining, which makes for a softer texture. But, that refining also strips away the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber from the grains.
Whole-grain and grain-free pastas tend to be chewier because they’re NOT ultra-refined. And, that means they still contain the fiber and nutrients found in the original grains, lentils, or beans! So, if you try a more wholesome pasta option in your vegan pasta salad, keep an open mind and embrace the new texture experience
Remember that the chewiness is a sign you’re eating a more fuel-filled pasta! Personally, I love the texture the lentil pasta adds to this creamy, colorful vegan pasta salad. Because healthy food should be delicious AND fun to eat!
Make Eating Healthy EASIER on Yourself
Even though the rainbow of ingredients in this vegan pasta salad LOOKS impressive, it’s so simple to make. Really, it’s just cooking up a batch of pasta, chopping veggies, and mixing everything together. Consider making a large batch of this vegan pasta salad to have on hand throughout the week!
Many people are intimidated by meal prep, thinking it has to be a huge time-consuming ordeal. But, meal prep is really just prepping your healthy food ahead of time so it’s ready and accessible to eat! You could prep for the whole week, or just for one meal—whatever suits YOUR lifestyle.
If there’s a meal or recipe you enjoy, prep it in bulk so you can eat portions of it during the week. In particular, recipes like this vegan pasta salad that you can enjoy cold are great meal prep lunch ideas that you can take on-the-go!
Plus, since there’s no meat or dairy in this vegan pasta salad, you don’t have to worry about ingredients spoiling quickly or tasting funny after sitting in the fridge a few days. No heating necessary, loaded with wholesome veggies, and filled with fuel to keep you energized and satisfied!
Vegan Pasta Salad:
8 oz pasta of choice, cooked (about 4 cups cooked—I used a grain-free red lentil pasta)
1 can (14–20oz) pineapple chunks, reserve liquid
1 red bell pepper, diced
½ cup sweet pickles, diced
½ cup carrots, diced
¼ cup green onion, diced
1 cup coconut milk yogurt, or nondairy yogurt of choice
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3-4 Tbsp reserved pineapple juice
¼ tsp garlic powder
Cook pasta according to package directions.
Allow to cool slightly before combining with other salad ingredients.
In a bowl, whisk together dressing. Pour over pasta salad mixture and toss to coat.
Serve and enjoy!
Yields ~7 cups vegan pasta salad.
*Nutrition calculated using red lentil pasta and unsweetened coconut milk yogurt.