easy vegan pasta salad by Desiree Nielsen RD

This easy vegan pasta salad has a Mediterranean vibe and is super flexible so you can make it using whatever you have on hand in the pantry. It’s filling, fresh and SO satisfying. Make it for your next picnic or whenever it’s too hot to fuss in the kitchen.

I always forget how much I love a good pasta salad…but this easy vegan pasta salad recipe is my reminder that I should have it on weekly rotation, especially when the weather heats up. It’s the quintessential picnic food, so I opted for a mayo-free dressing so you don’t have to worry about it sitting out a bit.

I originally created this recipe for my friends at Maple Magazine, where I am the nutrition columnist so I thought it would be fun to share it with you all! This recipe was part of a ‘Quarantine Kitchen’ series that aimed for flexible recipes that you could create using whatever you have on hand. Regardless of what’s going on in the world, these are the kind of recipes I use most often at home in an effort to reduce my food waste and streamline my weeknight cooking.

How to make a healthy pasta salad

You know me…I’m all about the whole foods. But that doesn’t mean that I avoid pasta – far from it! Whole grain pasta (or gluten free if you need it!) absolutely fits as part of a plant-based, anti-inflammatory diet I love my pasta. Why?

  • Whole grain pasta, cooked al dente, is actually a low glycemic index food, which means that it won’t spike blood sugars and fan the flames of inflammation.
  • Whole grains contain fibre that feed the gut microbiome, resulting in the production of short chain fatty acids that help to calm inflammation further.
  • Whole grain pasta contains more plant-based protein than you might expect – from about 8 grams to up to about 15 grams per cup for bean-based pastas. Gluten free pastas made from rice and corn will have less.

When it comes to making a truly healthy, anti-inflammatory pasta salad I look for a few things:

  • Ratio of vegetables to starches One of my fave (and only) ‘rules’ for healthy eating it to aim to cover half your plates in fruits and vegetables at each meal. So I made sure that there was roughly equal veggies to pasta in this salad.
  • Adequate protein Protein is critical for supporting the immune system and keeping you full and satisfied with steady blood sugars. The pasta offers some protein and I’ve bumped it up with extra beans
  • Healthy fats Olives and extra-virgin olive oil are mono-unsaturated fats that are heart healthy and don’t worsen inflammation.

How to make this vegan pasta salad low FODMAP

This salad is easy to customize to fit a vegan low FODMAP diet for all my friends with irritable bowel syndrome out there! Follow just a few simple low FODMAP swaps:

  • Use a low FODMAP pasta such as gluten free brown rice or (gasp!) chickpea pasta…yes, chickpea pasta is actually low FODMAP in servings of 1 cooked cup or less.
  • If you can find jarred roasted red peppers without garlic and onion, they are a low FODMAP food! As are artichoke hearts in 1/3 cup serve.
  • Use low FODMAP veg, of course – and both capers and olives are low FODMAP
  • If you use canned, rinsed lentils this salad is low FODMAP. If you stick to 1/4 of the recipe as a serving, it will also be low FODMAP using canned, rinsed chickpeas.
  • Ditch the garlic in the dressing!

More plant-based picnic recipes

easy vegan pasta salad by Desiree Nielsen RD

20 Min Low FODMAP Vegan Pasta Salad

This easy vegan pasta salad has a Mediterranean vibe and takes just minutes to throw together from pantry staples. It's fresh, filling and picnic-ready! Low FODMAP or regular option
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Pasta Salad

  • 350 g of your favourite pasta, about 3 dry cups (750ml), gluten free for low FODMAP
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 large handfuls baby spinach or arugula
  • 1 cup assorted fresh herbs, basil, dill, parsley, cilantro, fennel
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, well rinsed and drained, use a full can if not low FODMAP!
  • ½ cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • ½ cup kalamata olives, chopped, or 1/4 cup capers
  • vegan ricotta, or your fave vegan cheeze, optional!

Salad Dressing

  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 1-1½ lemons
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, grated, omit for low FODMAP
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cane sugar
  • freshly cracked pepper, to taste


  • Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and toss with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. Place in a large salad bowl.
  • Whisk up lemon juice, oil, Dijon, oregano, salt, sugar and pepper in a small bowl or shake up in a jam jar. Taste and adjust salt as necessary. Set aside.
  • Add roasted red peppers, vegetables, olives and beans to pasta and toss to combine. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to coat. 
  • Salad will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge and is delicious topped with homemade almond ricotta or tofu feta.


My DIY almond ricotta is super easy to make and so delicious!

Recipe image courtesy Maple Magazine