Vegan Quinoa Pasta Salad Mediterranean-Style (Gluten-Free)

by Alena
Aug 11, 2020
white table with two bowls of vegan quinoa pasta salad with cucumber, onions, olives and vegan yogurt sauce

If you love outdoor eating and packable lunches as much as we do, this gluten-free vegan quinoa pasta salad will be the exact summer treat you’ve been looking for!

Loaded with all of the plant-based Mediterranean goodness you could think of yet super approachable, this explosion of flavor and color will keep you coming back for more. 

You know it’s summer when everyone brings out the cold vegan pasta salads! Our batch-cooking-friendly crowd-pleasing gluten-free and healthy lunch idea is sure to become your new go-to recipe.

It’s super family-friendly, customizable to your taste and nutritional preferences and ridiculously easy to make.

What we love is that quinoa pasta salads are perfect to make ahead of time and keep in the fridge for a couple of days — the flavor just gets better and better!

If you want a secretly vegan and beautiful Mediterranean quinoa pasta salad that you can bring to any get-togethers and that everyone will love, this recipe won’t disappoint.

No need to use every single ingredient we chose for this healthy vegan pasta salad; this dish can be dressed up in so many ways — some of which we’ll share with you below.

This colorful 30-minute whole food plant-based recipe is bursting with essential nutrients, completely oil-free and sugar-free, packs a good amount of satiating protein and works for sustainable weight loss.

Let’s see why we love this recipe, what it’s made of and how you can modify it to your liking!

woman in beige clothes standing by a table with a large white bowl containing a vegan Mediterranean quinoa pasta salad and mixing it with a spoon

The Best Gluten-Free Vegan Pasta Salad

You’ll just love the different textures in this healthy pasta salad with quinoa! The flavorful crunchy veggies are drenched in a delicious Mediterranean oil-free yogurt dressing full of delicious herbs that’ll have your guests come back for more.

This vegan pasta salad is very forgiving and the perfect combination of delicious comfort food and healthy add-ins!

Thanks to the cooked chickpeas and quinoa, it’s decently high in protein (especially when you choose whole grain or legume-based pasta) and packs a ton of fiber.

Plant-Based Protein Guide
white table with different sized bowls containing cooked quinoa, chickpeas, artichokes, macaroni, bell pepper and salad veggies

Mediterranean Quinoa Pasta Salad Ingredients

  • Short Pasta — we like to use macaroni shapes but fusilli, penne or shells also work well. For some double-quinoa-action, choose pasta made from quinoa or another gluten-free variety made from corn, rice or legumes. We like plain wheat, whole wheat or spelt for a non-gf version, too!
  • Quinoa — these little pseudo-grains add some wholesome plant-based protein and texture to your Mediterranean pasta salad and can be omitted if they aren’t available to you.
  • Artichoke & Olives — briny and salty, these two add-ins aren’t for everyone but if you’re looking for that Mediterranean salad action, that’s what you’ll need!
  • Cucumber, Tomatoes & Bell Pepper — crunchy and seasonal veggies work well for this salad but you can replace some of them with roasted vegetables for more variety and texture.
  • Chickpeas — adding another satiating whole carb and plant-based protein source that’s super delicious and versatile!

We don’t know about you, but especially when these fresh ingredients are in season, this quinoa pasta salad just screams summertime deliciousness! No wonder it’s usually the first to be gobbled up at any party.

woman holding a large white bowl with quinoa, chickpeas, olives, pasta, cucumber and tomatoes

How to Make Vegan Pasta Salad with Quinoa

Let us show you how easy it is to whip up this delicious outdoor dining sidekick or summertime cookout side. You can make this vegan pasta salad with cooked quinoa or simply choose quinoa pasta if you happen to find some at your store — totally up to you.

Start by cooking your quinoa and pasta separately on the stove and set aside once they are done. In the meantime, you can prepare the rest of the ingredients for this gluten-free pasta salad by draining, washing and chopping everything.

We highly recommend using canned artichokes and olives alongside fresh onion for a really robust and deep flavor — but the recipe is really flexible and if you know your guests or family won’t like any of the components, simply omit or replace them.

Once your veggies are chopped, put them in a large bowl along with the chickpeas, quinoa and pasta. Drizzle with our flavorful vegan Greek yogurt dressing or scroll down for more dressing ideas!

Now, you can eat this Mediterranean quinoa pasta salad semi-warm if you’re in need of some good food ASAP or put it in the fridge to chill for 1-2 hours — this also allows the flavors to nicely marinate everything.

This plant-powered bowl of goodness can now be enjoyed with your family or stored for a few days in the fridge for a quick lunch!

Plant-Based Meal Planning Guide
large white bowl with pasta, quinoa, chickpeas and chopped fresh veggies which is being topped with vegan Greek yogurt dressing

Tips for The Best Vegan Quinoa Pasta Salad

As we often get requests for modifications, there are a few questions we’d love to answer before we get into the exact vegan quinoa pasta salad recipe.

When using gluten-free pasta, you’ll end up with a firmer texture after you’ve chilled it in the fridge, which is why you shouldn’t serve it super cold. Also, make sure not to overcook your pasta!

If you happen to have any cooked pasta, quinoa or literally any cooked grain on hand, you can use this as your starch component and follow the rest of this recipe to create a delicious dish in about 10 minutes!

How to Store Vegan Macaroni Pasta Salad

This vegan pasta salad can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Since pasta salads are usually meant to be enjoyed chilled, this recipe is perfect to make a day ahead of time so you can allow for the flavors to marinate to perfection.

We like to use this recipe for our weekly meal prep and store the quinoa pasta salad in separate bento boxes for an easy portable lunch!

Before enjoying your stored and chilled quinoa pasta salad from the fridge, try to give it about 30 minutes to warm up at room temperature to wake up the flavors and see whether you need to add a bit more dressing — salads sometimes dry out over time.

white tables with three glass containers containing colorful vegan quinoa pasta salad with tomatoes, bell pepper and basil

What Veggies Are Good in Pasta Salad?

You can dress your quinoa pasta salad up any way you like! Here are some ideas for what else to add to this cold lunch.

  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Sautéd spinach or kale
  • Pickles 
  • Avocado
  • Corn
  • Arugula
  • Mushrooms
  • Peas
  • Zucchini
  • Asparagus
  • Green onion
  • Broccoli
  • Grilled eggplant
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Carrots 

On top of that, you can top it with some homemade vegan feta, cashew parmesan or even vegan chicken strips!

woman standing behind a table and holding a spoon with thick homemade vegan Greek yogurt dressing with garlic, tahini and parsley

Our Best Vegan Salad Dressings

If our easy yogurt garlic sauce isn’t your thing, you can use another vinaigrette of your choice — a simple olive oil and vinegar combo is traditionally served over Mediterranean pasta salad.

Another option would be to whip up our easy mustard dressing (recipe here) to give your vegan pasta salad a slightly different flavor. You can create a richer yet still super healthy quinoa pasta salad by adding homemade cashew mayo or our high-protein herby ranch as a dressing!

Looking for more ideas? Feel free to browse our favorite oil-free vegan salad dressings here.

Tasty Serving Suggestions

This quinoa pasta salad is loaded with chickpeas and lots of vegetables which makes it a colorful main meal all by itself! Thankfully, it also doubles as a delicious side which you can bring to any cookout or potluck to ensure there’s some vegan goodness.

When enjoyed at a BBQ, you can eat it alongside some freshly baked bread and bean burgers, hummus sandwiches, corn on the cob or grilled tofu.

During fall and winter, we like to prepare warm pasta salads loaded with hearty beans, grilled veggies, pine nuts and avocado instead of making this chilled Mediterranean version with crunchy summer vegetables.

woman in white apron holding a bowl of vegan quinoa pasta salad with tomatoes, olives, chickpeas and basil

More Vegan Lunch Ideas

No matter if you’re a vegan newbie or seasoned plant-based muncher, we all need a little inspiration for quick and delicious lunches! Here’s some goodness from the blog you can try next.

We hope you appreciated our tips around this vegan pasta recipe with quinoa and veggies — let’s see how easy it is to make.

Have you tried our Mediterranean vegan pasta salad with quinoa? Share with us in the comments below and rate our recipe! You can also Pin it here or tag us on Instagram if you’ve made it — we’d love to see your creations.

white table with two bowls of vegan quinoa pasta salad with cucumber, onions, olives and vegan yogurt sauce

Vegan Pasta Salad With Quinoa

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Colorful summer vegetables slathered in Mediterranean yogurt sauce make this vegan pasta salad with quinoa a true crowd-pleaser! Perfect for an easy portable lunch or to bring with you to any potluck and cookout, this gluten-free dish is bursting with flavor, nutrients and protein. It’s easily customizable, really satisfying and keeps in the fridge for days.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups macaroni pasta, gluten-free (about 180 g)
  • ⅔ cup quinoa, uncooked and rinsed
  • 1 cucumber, cubed
  • ½ can artichoke hearts in brine, drained (about 120 g)
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup black olives rings
  • 1 cup chickpeas, cooked and drained
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • ½ cup vegan yogurt dressing
  • Fresh basil leaves to garnish

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta in a medium-sized pot according to the package instructions, then drain and rinse the pasta under cold water. Set aside.
  2. At the same time, put quinoa in another medium-size pot with water and bring to a boil, then let simmer until all of the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let cool while preparing the rest of the salad.
  3. Wash and chop your vegetables, then get a large bowl and combine all of the ingredients for your quinoa pasta salad. Drizzle with garlicky vegan yogurt sauce and toss to combine.
  4. Garnish with fresh garlic leaves and serve slightly warm or place the quinoa pasta salad covered in the fridge for a few hours to allow the flavors to combine and serve chilled.
  5. Store any leftovers in your refrigerator for up to 5 days. If you want to prepare a larger batch to have quick grab-and-go lunches for the coming week, store your vegan pasta salad in separate bento boxes or glass containers.

Notes

  • Any type of short pasta, from wheat to corn, quinoa or legume-based, can be used for this Mediterranean salad.
  • If you store the quinoa pasta salad for a couple of days, it’s possible that the dressing will become dry and you may need to add some more before serving and eating the salad.
  • Chilled quinoa pasta salad should get around half an hour at room temperature to allow the flavors to “wake up” before serving.
  • You can replace the pasta with quinoa and vice versa! This recipe also works with many other grains.
  • Feel free to use any other legume instead of the chickpeas — white beans work especially well here.
  • This recipe is delicious with lots of fresh herbs, not just basil leaves! Anything from mint to parsley and oregano can be added.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 392Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 356mgCarbohydrates: 60gFiber: 10gSugar: 7gProtein: 14g

Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated automatically, their accuracy is not guaranteed. Just focus on whole plant-based foods and eat until satiety!

Did you make this recipe?

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Alena enjoying a bowl of fresh plant-based food and coffe in a restaurant
Alena Schowalter is a Certified Vegan Nutritionist who has been a vegetarian since childhood and vegan since 2012. Together with her husband, she founded nutriciously in 2015 and has been guiding thousands of people through different transition stages towards a healthy plant-based diet. She’s received training in the fields of nutrition, music therapy and social work. Alena enjoys discussions around vegan ethics, walks through nature and creating new recipes.
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