Cold Gluten Free Pasta Salad with Pesto, Mozzarella & Veggies
Here’s an easy gluten free pasta salad recipe that’s totally tasty, and you can make it with only 8 ingredients! A nutritious, budget friendly, vegetarian pasta salad with chickpeas, mozzarella cheese, and plenty of veggies. Perfect for meal prep and on-the-go packed lunches.
Dressed in an herby, creamy pesto yogurt sauce, with tangy cubes of mozzarella and fresh crunchy peppers in every bite, it’s a wonderfully colorful summer meal! And, I think leftover pasta is better cold anyway, so why not turn it into a cold pasta salad with your favorite vegetables?
Since I enjoy gluten free pastas just as much as regular pasta, I made this gluten free pasta salad with brown rice and quinoa noodles. You’re welcome to use a different gluten free option—like bean or lentil pasta for a protein boost. Or, go with regular noodles if that’s what you like most!
An added protein boost can be a welcome addition to a vegetarian pasta salad recipe like this, but you can also add in other protein sources as well. I went with chickpeas and cubed mozzarella cheese for this recipe, but switch it up if you like! Simple, satisfying, and oh-so-convenient—ready to serve and enjoy straight out of the fridge.
Gluten Free Pasta Salad Ingredients
16oz brown rice & quinoa pasta, or gluten free pasta of choice 6oz jar pesto ½ cup plain yogurt 2-3 oz arugula, spinach, or greens of choice 2 cups mini sweet peppers, sliced into rings 1 pint cherry tomatoes, whole 8oz fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes 1 can (15oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
You can serve this gluten free pasta salad in any dressing you like, but I highly recommend giving the pesto and yogurt a try! Just be sure use a plain, unflavored yogurt and check out the ingredients on any store-bought pesto. Some contain additives and added sugars, but I’m generally willing to compromise a bit for the convenience! Or, if you prefer to make your own, I’ve got a super easy pesto recipe that’s also vegan.
As for the protein, I’m using chickpeas for a plant based protein source, but you can toss in any beans you like! Plus, the mozzarella cheese adds a nice protein boost, too. For those who aren’t concerned with keeping this a vegetarian pasta salad recipe, you can of course add any meat you like! Diced chicken, pulled pork, or even bacon would all be delicious additions.
How to Make Vegetarian Pasta Salad
To make this cold pasta salad recipe, start by getting the noodles cooked, ideally giving them some time to cool. Whatever pasta you choose to use—gluten free or not—refer to the package directions. For those making a gluten free pasta salad like I did, I recommend cooking your noodles 1-2 minutes less than the package instructs. This will prevent them from getting gummy!
Once cooked, drain the pasta in a colander and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking. This will also help to cool the pasta faster, so it’s ready to toss together with your other ingredients. Transfer the cooked pasta into a large mixing bowl or serving dish, and toss with a bit of oil to prevent clumping if desired.
Then, add in your remaining vegetarian pasta salad ingredients: greens, chopped peppers, whole cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, and cubed mozzarella. To make the pesto yogurt sauce, simply mix the two together in a small bowl, then pour onto the salad and toss well to coat. And quick as that, in less than 30 minutes, your healthy lunch is meal prepped and/or ready to serve!
This is a pretty large batch, yielding around 10-12 servings depending on your preferred serving size. To store, cover the dish with a lid or transfer into airtight containers, and it will last in the fridge up to 5 days. The ultimate easy meal to keep on-hand throughout the week—no reheating or assembly required!
Vegetarian pasta salad in a pesto yogurt sauce, with mozzarella cheese, chickpeas, and veggies.
Prep Time:7-9 minutes
Cook Time:15 minutes
Total Time:20-25 minutes
Yield:12 servings 1x
Gluten Free Pasta Salad
16oz gluten-free pasta (I used a brown rice & quinoa pasta) 6oz jar pesto ½ cup plain yogurt 2–3 oz arugula, spinach, or greens of choice (as much as you’d like) 2 cups mini sweet peppers, sliced into rings 1 pint cherry tomatoes, whole 8oz fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes 1 can (15oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Cook pasta according to package directions. (I recommend cooking gluten free pasta for 1-2 minutes less than the package instructs.)
Drain cooked pasta, rinse with lukewarm water, and allow to cool completely. Toss with a bit of oil to prevent clumping, if desired.
In a bowl, mix together pesto and yogurt.
Transfer cooked and cooled pasta into a large bowl/serving dish.
Add greens, peppers, tomatoes, cheese, chickpeas and pesto yogurt mixture. Toss well to coat.
Store in an airtight container for the week, or enjoy immediately!