This colorful dish is as much about the vegetables as it is about the pasta. It's loaded with a mix of salty roasted broccoli, red onions, pepperoncini, and soft cannellini beans. It's mixed with a homemade pasta salad dressing that beautifully features the range of textures and tastes this Easy Gluten-Free Pasta Salad has. Just before serving, the vegetables and cooked pasta are tossed with a bit of vegan feta to make everything creamy and rich-tasting without being heavy.
Another vegan and gluten-free pasta to check out is our Gluten-Free Alfredo Sauce with Fettucine Pasta.
This recipe is a classic in my vegan kitchen. It's the dish I lean on when I want to make something easy, filling, and flavorful.
In this post, I share the following:
- Recipe for my lemon-oregano dressing and how to determine if your olive oil is sabotaging the dish's flavor.
- Expert roasting tips for perfectly salted and crispy broccoli straight from the oven.
- Techniques for cooking with gluten-free pasta noodles.
Use this section to jump to areas of interest within the post.
For this recipe, you'll gather ingredients for the homemade dressing, roasted broccoli, vegetables, pasta noodles, and toppings.
Lemon-Oregano Italian Dressing
- Olive oil (high-quality, organic) - one surefire way to upgrade your pantry is to exchange your bottle of generic olive oil for high-quality, organic olive oil. Sample a spoonful from the one you have in your cupboard - it should have a smooth grassy flavor with a clean, quickly dissipating aftertaste. That flavor (and aftertaste) will be present in every bite of this pasta, and your olive oil could make or break it. A dark glass bottle is key to detracting UV light and the breakdown of fatty acids. Get familiar with reading the label, and buy from brands that are actually making the oil not just bottled it.
- Lemon juice - for this recipe, you'll use ¼ cup of lemon juice (4 tablespoons). It may feel like a lot, but I promise it's the perfect amount. You'll likely use a whole lemon, depending on its size.
- Dijon mustard - a common ingredient in my dressing recipes, adding a necessary tangy twist.
- Maple syrup - whenever dijon is present, maple syrup is likely to follow - the tangy sweetness holds together a light creaminess in this dressing.
- Garlic - whenever you want a fresh garlic flavor without actual bits of garlic, reduce it to a paste. My preferred method is to use a garlic press. Run one clove through the press, sprinkle a pinch of salt over the minced garlic, and then use the side of the knife to repeatedly smash and scrape the garlic and salt until it forms a paste.
- Oregano leaves (fresh, finely chopped)
- Salt and ground black pepper
I prefer gluten-free pasta noodles; they make me feel best, and I stock Jovial noodles in my pantry. They cook fast, have a great texture, and hold up very well in recipes where big spoon mixing is involved. If stored in an airtight container, they hold up to refrigeration well, and the leftovers taste excellent!
(No affiliation with the brand. I just appreciate their product.)
- Red onion
- Cannellini beans (I know - it's a legume, not technically a vegetable)
It's a very versatile dish, add in what you're craving, like tomatoes!
Vegan feta cheese - I grab the 'Just like Feta' from Violife, but any brand will work. Slice a piece large enough to handle and gently grin over a grater. The addition of feta makes everything creamy and rich-tasting without being heavy.
Fresh basil leaves - coarsely chop a handful or rip with your hands. Fresh basil brings in an aroma of freshness and pairs well with the brined pepperoncini and crunchy onion.
See the recipe card for full instructions and quantities.
Prepare the pasta salad dressing by combining all ingredients in a mason jar. Close tightly and shake vigorously until combined. Allow the jar to sit and marinate in all its flavors while you move on to the next steps.
Perfectly roasted broccoli requires just a few simple tricks. First, trim the bottom of the broccoli and separate the stalks from the crowns. Follow the natural shape and avoid cutting through the florets as much as possible. Second, pile the broccoli onto a baking sheet leaving ample space between each floret. This is key in allowing each piece to roast perfectly. Too close together and trapped moisture will result in limp pieces. And lastly, drizzle 1 ½ tablespoons of oil and season with salt, tossing to coat fully.
The assembly of this pasta salad recipe should be done mindfully. Add all whole ingredients to a large bowl (cooked pasta, roasted broccoli, beans, and vegetables)—season with salt and black pepper. Give the dressing another shake and drizzle evenly over the top. Using two large spoons, toss until loosely mixed.
Finally, sprinkle fresh basil and vegan feta over the top and shake the bowl while turning the pasta with a spoon. Alternatively, place a plate or lid to cover the bowl and give a gentle up-and-down shake. Reserve extra toppings on the side and add more per serving if desired.
Helpful but not necessary: in their place, you will use a sharp knife.
- Garlic press
- Cheese grater
- & a large mixing bowl
Store this cold pasta salad refrigerated in an airtight container for 2-3 days. Line the container with a light coat of oil to prevent pasta hardening.
Top tips for cooking gluten-free noodles:
(1) When cooking gluten-free pasta noodles, wait for the water to come to a roaring boil, and add the pasta, oil, and salt. (2) Set a timer based on the package's recommended cook time. A timer will allow you a few minutes away from the stovetop without the risk of an error. (3) Once al dente (taste test to be sure), drain through a strainer and do not rinse. Shake the colander to ensure the separation of any noodles, and be prepared to add dressing or sauce immediately.
How to avoid hardened noodles after refrigeration?
Gluten-free pasta noodles typically harden or dry out once refrigerated. It's usually no problem if you reheat your pasta, but for dishes like pasta salads, you might want to enjoy a cold pasta salad. If you want soft noodles straight from the fridge, cook for an additional 2 minutes. Note: I've only tried this with Jovial and Barilla gluten-free noodles. I also recommend that you lightly oil the storage container before adding the leftover pasta noodles.
Is this easy pasta salad recipe allergy free?
This recipe is dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, gluten-free, and vegan!
More of my favorite dishes
All of these are gluten-free recipes:
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Gluten-Free Pasta Salad (Easy & Vegan)
Lemon-Oregano Salad Dressing:
- ⅓ cup olive oil (refer to post on how to determine high-quality olive oil)
- ¼ cup lemon juice (about 4 tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 3 cloves garlic (finely minced into a paste)
- 1 tablespoon fresh finely chopped oregano leaves
- ¼ cup filtered water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets
- 12 oz gluten-free pasta of choice (Jovial brand fusilli)
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup chopped pepperoncini
- 13-15 oz cannellini beans, cooked & drained
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves (about 15)
- ½ cup crumbled soft vegan cheese
- Heat the oven to 400°F non-convection (375°F convection). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Roast the broccoli trim the bottom of the broccoli stalks and separate them from the crowns. Cut the crowns into long florets so that they are 1 ½ inches across. Avoid cutting through the florets as much as possible. Follow the natural shape, no worries about being exact. Pile the broccoli onto the baking sheet leaving room in between. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of oil over the broccoli and season with salt. Roast until crisp, tender, and browned, 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven once done.
- Meanwhile, make the dressing. Place all dressing ingredients in a jar and close it tightly with a lid. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds and set aside allowing the flavors to marinade.
- Cook pasta: bring a pot of filtered water to a boil on the stove. Once at a roaring boil add the pasta noodles, a drizzle of oil, and a pinch of salt. Set a timer and cook per package instructions stirring frequently. Refer to the Top Tip section of this post for cooking gluten-free noodles to avoid hardening.
- Meanwhile, slice the onion into small squares. First, remove one stem end. Place the onion standing up on the flat side you just cut off and cut the onion in half (from top to bottom, one stem end to the other). Remove the papery skin and if desired the layer underneath that. Take one of the halved onions and lay it down flat. Place the knife tip about ½ inch from the pointed stem and slice down to the flat end making a long cut without separating the onion. Make many of these long cuts then turn the onion and make cross-section cuts along the long cuts. Revealing diced squares. Continue cutting up to the stem. Repeat with the other halved onion.
- Chop the pepperoncini remove them from the jar and coarsely chop them into smaller bits.
- Prepare the beans by opening the can and rinsing them.
- Assemble: Once the noodles are soft and fully cooked drain and add to a large bowl. Place the roasted broccoli, diced onion, pepperoncini, and beans in the bowl. Give the dressing another shake and pour over the top. Using a large serving spoon toss the pasta salad lightly and gently.
- Add the toppings: chopped vegan feta cheese and loosely ripped basil leaves on top. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and serve warm or room temperature.