Yankee Doodle: Call it Macaroni Salad

by Kathleen Reale

Dairy Free Nut Free Fish Free Soy Free Gluten Free 

After getting diagnosed with celiac disease, I looked to my good ole’ yankee ingenuity to get pasta back full force into my menu plan.

It was a lot easier to adapt pasta dishes that are served hot, such as spaghetti and lasagna, into a gluten free version; but I had to dig deep to make the gluten-free versions of cold pasta salads work. In cold pasta dishes, the pasta must be cooked perfect, and the sauce is simply a complement to the pasta itself.

Pasta salads are simple. Exploding with color and freshness. All the other ingredients embrace the pasta, which can either make, or break, the end result.

Following are a few tips on making a perfect gluten and allergen free pasta salad, which will have you sticking a feather in your cap and have everyone asking for seconds:

Beyond macaroni & mayonnaise. Pasta salads have come a long way since elbow macaroni tossed with mayo. Let’s us all rejoice! Be creative when making a pasta salad. Visit your refrigerator and cabinet shelves and add ingredients that you have on hand, and your family loves.

Side dish or the main attraction? Pasta salad is the perfect side for any meal, yet can be hearty enough to be a meal in itself. Add beans, chicken or seafood and make a perfect make-ahead dinner or lunch for the week ahead.

Pasta-bilities. Experiment with types of pasta. Cold pasta salads are just not for penne and fusilli anymore. Try long pastas such as spaghetti or angel hair, or thick pasta such as fettuccine. Also, experiment with different type of gluten and allergen free pastas: Corn, quinoa, rice and potato are some of the ingredients of gluten free pastas. Experiment and have fun.

Marinade me. Olive oil, fresh herbs and a splash of vinegar are the perfect marinade for pasta salads. Simple, fresh ingredients work best. Add mayonnaise and yogurt for a creamier version.

Cooking is key. When cooking gluten free pasta for a cold pasta salad, make sure that you do not overcook it. As a rule of thumb, overcooked pasta is only forgiven in hot pasta dishes. In a cold pasta salad, the pasta must be tossed with the dressing and overcooked pasta will turn to mush. After cooking the pasta, drain with cold water, drain well and toss lightly with a splash of oil to prevent “pasta block”, or pasta that sticks together in one big brick.



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