Low Calorie Pasta Salad (LOW CAL, GF, VEGAN)

Low-Calorie Pasta Salad

A fresh and light pasta salad that’s perfect for picnics or potlucks. I’m always on the hunt for new ways to enjoy pasta without feeling weighed down. This low-calorie pasta salad is one I keep coming back to again and again. The best part about this salad is that it’s incredibly versatile you can swap out ingredients to suit your tastes or what you have on hand. The base of pasta, vegetables, and herbs provides the foundation for endless flavor combinations. I like to use rotini or fusilli pasta for its spiral shape that holds the dressing nicely. As for veggies, I love the crunch of cherry tomatoes and English cucumber. Bell peppers add a pop of color and nutrients.

Recipe Ingredient

  • For the pasta base, I use 2 ounces of chickpea pasta. High in protein and fiber, this gluten-free pasta adds nutrition without the heaviness of traditional varieties. For veggies, 1/3 cup of red onion provides a mellow sweetness when diced small. Alongside it, 1 cup of English cucumber contributes crisp texture and only a few calories.
  • I also like to include 1 orange bell pepper for a burst of color as well as vitamin C. The 3 cups of diced bell pepper add volume without much cost to the calorie count. For a pop of flavor, 1 cup of halved grape tomatoes lends bright acidity to the mix. And no pasta salad is complete without 1/4 cup of pitted and sliced black olives.How to Make ThisHow to Make This
  • For extra creaminess without dairy, I sometimes add 2 tablespoons of crumbled dairy-free feta cheese or other non-dairy topping. Finally, to pull it all together, the light vinaigrette consists of 2 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1 teaspoon dried parsley.

How to Make This Low Calorie Pasta Salad Recipe

Preparing the Ingredients

The first step is to gather and prep all the ingredients. Boil water for the pasta in a large pot. Meanwhile, dice the red onion, bell pepper, cucumber, and tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Slice the olives. Measure out the olive oil, vinegars, and herbs for the dressing.

Cooking the Pasta

Once the water is boiling, add the chickpea pasta and cook for about 8-10 minutes until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. This helps prevent sticking.

Making the Dressing

In a small jar or bowl, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, and parsley. Seal the jar and shake vigorously until emulsified. You can also whisk everything together in a bowl.

Assembling the Salad

Transfer the cooked pasta to a large serving bowl. Add the prepared vegetables, olives, and optional feta cheese. Pour the dressing over top and gently toss everything together until fully coated.

Chilling

Cover the pasta salad and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving to allow the flavors to blend. This makes it perfect for picnics or potlucks.

Serving Instructions

This pasta salad is perfect for potlucks, picnics, and lunches all week long. For potlucks, transport it in an airtight container nestled in an insulated bag or cooler. When serving, use a large spoon to portion it out onto plates or into smaller containers. Garnish with extra veggies or herbs if desired.

Storage Instructions

The salad can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. To store, place the leftover pasta salad in an airtight container. Press plastic wrap or parchment directly onto the surface to prevent browning. You can also divide it between multiple containers for single servings.

Freezing Instructions

This recipe freezes beautifully for up to 3 months. To freeze, place portioned servings in freezer-safe zip lock bags or containers, pressing out excess air. Lay the bags flat in the freezer. When ready to eat, thaw overnight in the fridge or microwave just until thawed and edible. The flavors will be even more blended after freezing.

Low-Calorie Pasta Salad

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FAQs

Can I use other types of pasta?

Yes, feel free to substitute the chickpea pasta for another variety like rotini or penne. Just adjust the cooking time as needed.

What if I don’t like olives?

You can leave out the olives or replace them with another favorite ingredient like sun-dried tomatoes.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

Yes, as long as you use a gluten-free pasta. Check labels to ensure any non-dairy cheese or dressing is also certified gluten-free.

Will the salad get soggy?

As long as you toss it gently with the dressing and refrigerate promptly, it should stay fresh for 5 days. The acid in the lemon juice helps prevent sogginess too.

Can I make it ahead of time?

Yes, you can assemble the salad up to a day in advance. Just hold off on adding the dressing until you’re ready to serve or pack it up.

Are there any nutrition facts?

A single serving (1 cup) has only about 150 calories. It provides fiber, vitamins, and minerals from the variety of veggies while being low in fat.

Low-Calorie Pasta Salad

Low Calorie Pasta Salad

A fresh and light pasta salad that’s perfect for picnics or potlucks. I’m always on the hunt for new ways to enjoy pasta without feeling weighed down. This low-calorie pasta salad is one I keep coming back to again and again. The best part about this salad is that it’s incredibly versatile you can swap out ingredients to suit your tastes or what you have on hand. 
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6
Calories 198 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 oz chickpea pasta
  • 1 cup red onion diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper diced
  • 3 cups English cucumber diced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes sliced
  • ¼ cup black olives pitted and sliced
  • dairy-free cheese
  • 2 tbsp or feta For the Dressing
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried parsley

Instructions
 

  • First, collect all the components needed – pasta, assorted veggies, olives, optional cheese. Measure out ingredients for the bright lemon vinaigrette as well.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Once boiling, add the chickpea pasta and cook until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  • While the pasta cooks, prep the colorful mix-ins by dicing the onion, bell pepper, cucumber, and slicing the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces.
  • In a small jar, combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and dried herbs. Seal tightly and shake to emulsify. Or whisk everything together in a bowl.
  • Add the cooked pasta to a serving bowl. Toss in the cut vegetables and olives. Pour on the lemony vinaigrette and gently mix well.
  • Cover the salad and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavors to blend. Toss again before serving.
Keyword gluten free pasta salad, healthy pasta recipes,, summer pasta dishes
Hey there! I'm Betty Spangler. I love food, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple.