Taco Pasta Salad – Taco salad meets pasta salad in this fresh dish! A yummy vegan take on a summer favorite. (Gluten free & vegan!)
Right now it’s summer, so everything it seems is in season–avocados, tomatoes, bell peppers, fresh herbs, summer corn, etc. I wanted to put it all together in a family-friendly salad we’d all love.
We knocked it out of the park with this one! It’s a pasta salad + taco salad blend that turned out absolutely delicious. It’s loaded with bright colors and fresh flavors. Plus, there are some shortcuts that can make it even faster to prepare, and lots of different ways to change it up.
The chili-lime vinaigrette was the (not-so) secret sauce that tied it all together. The end result is fresh, light, and beautifully simple. Exactly what I’m looking for these days.
Notes on the Recipe:
Shortcuts! If you prefer, you can use 1 1/2 tsp of your favorite taco seasoning in place of the cumin and chili powder for the vinaigrette. It’ll taste amazing either way! Or, I bet you could spoon over a few heaping tablespoons of your favorite salsa to use as a dressing instead. I also really like the jarred roasted bell peppers which cut down on prep time a bit.
Not vegan? I bet this would be amazing with some cheddar cheese tucked in there, but for the dairy free, this would be fabulous topped with some grilled chicken or even grilled steak.
What other veggies can I use? Whatever you like! You can easily add in a few handfuls of spinach or arugula for some extra color and nutrients, or add some shredded carrot, diced red or green onion, or even some black olives.
Gluten free pasta. We almost always use brown rice pasta (it has a texture really similar to the traditional white pasta made from wheat), but it can sometimes be a little chewy when cold. I’ve had the best luck for pasta salad with other pasta blends, like corn and quinoa or white rice. It’s less nutritious, but the texture is far superior for a cold salad.
Can I make this ahead of time? Yes, and I recommend it! Pasta salads get better with a little time, in my opinion. The pasta has more time to absorb the dressing, which makes every bite feel a little more flavorful. If you’re worried about your avocado browning, you can wait and do that *right* before serving, but I’ve found that with the lime and vinegar in the dressing, it stays pretty green for several hours ahead of time.
Want an extra flavor boost? Try using a flavored olive oil! I love the ones from Queen Creek Olive Mill. The roasted garlic or Mexican lime is fantastic here, or you can add a few drops of their chile or jalapeño olive oil for some serious kick.
You might also like these other summer faves:
- Honey Lime Fruit Salad (Vegetarian with vegan option)
- Sizzling Veggie Fajitas (Vegan)
- My Big Fat Greek Quinoa Salad (Vegan)
- Confetti Quinoa Salad with Lime Vinaigrette (Vegan)