By Kelley Lindberg
Last week, we looked at potato salad recipes that are free from the Top 8 allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish). This week, I stalked the web for the best-looking pasta salads I could find. To make my list, recipes have to eliminate the most common allergens, but definitely keep the flavor! As always, I look for recipes that taste great, look wonderful, and won’t have a single person at your barbecue or potluck party even noticing milk and egg aren’t part of your creation!
Note: If you must avoid wheat or gluten, you’ll want to use gluten-free pasta for these recipes, of course.
Let’s get started.
First, I have to share a Ranch Dressing tip or two. Ranch dressing mix is a tasty addition to pasta salads, but finding a milk-free version is tricky. My local Smith’s grocery store (which is part of the Kroger brand of grocery stores) carries an envelope of mix called “Kroger Party Dip – Ranch,” which is milk-free. I have used it to make ranch dip by mixing it with Tofutti “BetterThan Sour Cream” soy-based non-dairy sour cream—a huge hit at parties. I also mixed it with Vegenaise (egg-free mayonnaise substitute) to make a sauce for a pasta salad the other day. My son declared it was “the best pasta salad you’ve ever made, Mom!” So if you live near a Kroger store (such as Smith’s, King Soopers, or Fred Meyer), check to see if they carry the “Kroger Party Dip-Ranch” mix. (Don’t confuse it with the Kroger Salad Magic Ranch Dressing mix, which contains milk. Sheesh. Don’t these people know they’re just making our lives complicated with all these different versions?)
If you can’t find the Kroger mix in your local store, you’re still in luck. I found a recipe online to make your own Homemade Ranch Seasoning & Dressing Mix, and it’s super easy! (I’m serious. Throw some spices in a blender or spice grinder. Voila! You’re done!) We have Megan, over at her “These Things I Love” blog, to thank for this recipe.
Now, on to some great-looking pasta salad recipes that will perk up that potluck table like nobody’s business:
Italian Pasta Salad: In its simplest form, a good pasta salad consists of 3 things: cooked pasta, some veggies, and a dressing. This recipe from About.com gives you the step-by-steps. It uses a cup of your favorite safe bottled Italian salad dressing, or you can substitute a favorite safe vinaigrette (like balsamic! Yum!).
Easy Vegan Artichoke Pasta Salad: This recipe from About.com is even easier, because you use the oil from a jar of marinated artichoke hearts instead of the salad dressing! Plus I think artichoke hearts always add a little extra class to anything they’re in, don’t you?
Vegan Pasta Salad with Pickles,Vinegar, and Olive Oil: Love that hint of pickle/vinegar flavor? Then you’ll love cooling off with this pasta salad from PopSugar.com that uses a dressing of vinegar, olive oil, and Dijon mustard (and some diced dill pickles for a little extra kick).
|Southwestern Pasta Salad|
Photo credit: CookinBug at AllRecipes.com
Southwestern Pasta Salad: I’m a fan of all things Southwestern flavored, so this recipe from Allrecipes.com is right up my alley. Its dressing consists of vegetable oil, fresh lime juice, and spices, and it will definitely spice up your picnic! You could also turn this into a main dish by adding some diced grilled chicken or taco chicken (shredded chicken cooked with taco seasoning).
Greek Goddess Pasta Salad: This recipe from AllRecipes.com calls for a bottle of pre-made Greek vinaigrette, and it includes sun-dried tomatoes, avocados, Kalamata olives, a jar of roasted peppers, and other tasty tidbits. If you can’t find a safe Greek vinaigrette dressing, try this recipe to whip up your own: Absolutely Fabulous Greek/House Dressing.
Kelley’s Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad: Okay, since my son loved this one so much, I figured I’d better post it.
|Kelley's Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad|
- 1 box of pasta, any shape (I used 2 different shapes, to mix things up)
- 2 c. total veggies, such as halved cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes (drained), or lightly steamed veggies such as broccoli, spinach, kale, carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, snowpeas, cauliflower, red and yellow peppers, or edamame
- 6 strips bacon
- Ranch dip/dressing mix (1 envelope’s worth, or about 3 T)
- 1 c. safe mayo, such as Vegenaise (there is a soy-free version, if that’s one of your allergens)
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 c. rice or soy milk (or other safe milk)
Cook pasta according to directions. If using veggies that you prefer to be lightly steamed, go ahead and steam them. Dice bacon into small pieces and fry. When the bacon is almost done, add the steamed veggies to the bacon so that the veggies take on that bacon flavor, and continue to cook until bacon is crispy enough for your taste. In a small bowl, mix the Ranch dressing mix, safe mayo or Vegenaise, garlic powder, and rice milk. When the pasta is done, drain it and run some cold water over it to stop it from continuing to cook. Then put the pasta in a large serving bowl with the veggies and bacon. Gently stir in the ranch dressing. Serve and enjoy!
My son, who is now an always-on-the-go 16-year-old with a hollow leg, is primarily a carnivore. He thinks vegetables are a conspiracy by mothers world-wide to punish their children for trumped-up grievances. Oh well. There are only a handful of veggies he will willingly eat: artichoke leaves (not the hearts), fried okra (he had to learn to like fried okra or he wasn’t allowed to continue living under my roof), and edamame. I don’t know why edamame made the list, because he refuses to touch any other legume, but I don’t question small victories. So when I made this salad, the only veggie I added was shelled, steamed edamame. That and the bacon made a great combination, and he was happy. So were the other party-goers, so I call that a win.