Gluten Free Italian Pasta Salad (Mayo Free, Dairy Free)

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer, and with that comes backyard get togethers, BBQ’s, and picnics.   Chances are the usual cast of characters will be present at most summer gatherings.   You know them well: coleslaw, potato salad, and pasta salad.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a big fan of each of those, but I must admit that I do get a bit weary of the mayo overload.  Sometimes I think that I can literally feel my cholesterol and LDL rising with each bite (OK, that’s a bit of hyperbole there).  Again, I like mayo…really like mayo, but I am also game for changing traditional foods up to improve the nutritional value.

Know what?  Sometimes those new, remade dishes are better, far better, than the original.  That’s how I feel about my pasta salad.  This is a no mayo pasta salad, but I  haven’t skipped out on one ounce of the creaminess that you expect in pasta salad.

The secret to this pasta salad comes in a humble (and inexpensive can) of cannelini beans.  Pureed, cannelini beans are smooth and luxurious (if a bean can me).  Blended with some healthy avocado oil, lemon juice, and some seasoning, you have the perfect mayo substitute.  I’ve been working on remakes of other mayo-based dishes, all using the same bean base just with tiny tweaks to seasoning.  Keep a look out for them in future blog posts.

So if you’re heading out to a gathering this weekend, consider trying my remade pasta salad.  It’s a healthy dish that everyone will love.

One last thing, if you haven’t done so already, head over to my Instagram page and enter a great giveaway. One entrant will win a $50 gift certificate from Jovial Foods.  You can use it to buy anything from their online story.  You could even order some of their GF fusilli and make this recipe!

Gluten Free Italian Pasta Salad (Mayo Free, Dairy Free)
Serves 4 (main course serving) or 6-8 (side dish serving)

12 oz. package Jovial Gluten Free Fusilli pasta, cooked, drained, rinsed under cold water
3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup diced grape tomatoes (mixed colors of red, yellow, & orange tomatoes)
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
3/4 cup cooked, diced Canadian bacon
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil & herbs, drained
1 cup finely chopped kale leaves, packed
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil, packed
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, packed
1 cup finely cubed mozzarella cheese (optional, eliminate if dairy free or opt for a dairy free cheese instead)

15 oz. can cannelini beans, drained, rinsed
1/3 cup avocado oil (or other oil of your choosing)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoon prepared, jarred pesto
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Cook gluten free pasta according to package instructions.  Drain.  Rinse under cold water.  Drain.  Set aside in a large bowl.

To create the dressing, place the drained beans, avocado oil, lemon juice and zest, pesto, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper into a blender.  Puree until completely smooth.  There should be no large pieces or chunks remaining.

Pour the dressing into the bowl with the cooked pasta and stir to coat.

Add all of the remaining salad ingredients into the pasta mixture (peas, tomatoes, onion, Canadian bacon, sundried tomatoes, kale, basil, parsley, and mozzarella).  Stir to combine.  Cover and chill if desired, or serve immediately.


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