Photo courtesy of PhotoXpress.com

Photo courtesy of PhotoXpress.com

When it’s cold I love eating soup and lots of it. When it’s hot, I like to avoid turning on the oven and love refreshing salads. When I was first diagnosed with celiac, I remember people telling me that dining out was risky and if I had to do it, I should order a plain salad with no croutons or dressing. Thankfully, I found out eating out was possible and could be quite delicious as well. I am happy to order a creative salad when dining out – as long as it’s not the only safe choice. It’s not as enjoyable if you feel like you didn’t have any choice when ordering your meal. Dining destinations like those in the Restaurant Guide make it easier to avoid that feeling.

It took me a couple of years to find a gluten-free pasta that I like in cold pasta salad. The corn and quinoa blend from Ancient Harvest works fine, but the Andean Dream pasta tastes fabulous in pasta salads. The rice and quinoa blend together to create a very wheat like pasta. People often tell me they use plain rice pasta for cold pasta salad, but we definitely don’t care for it. The first time I made a cold pasta salad, it was for a dinner party. The cold pasta was like a brick even though there was olive oil in it. I quickly whipped up a potato salad to replace the inedible pasta salad. Later, a restaurant server offered me a taste of their cold gluten-free pasta salad – made from plain rice pasta. I found it inedible as well.

Here are some of our favorite summer salads. Only one requires a gluten-free replacement item – the pasta salad.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups of cooked gluten-free pasta (your preferred brand)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (to taste)
  • Crumbled feta cheese (to taste)
  • 1/3cup of diced roasted red peppers (from a jar or home made)
  • 1/2 cup of sliced kalamata olives
  • 1/2 t. Medditerranean Spice blend (we use Alchemy Spice brand)
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts *optional
  • Touch of sea salt

Instructions:

  • Cook, drain and chill pasta (add olive oil to keep it from sticking).
  • Once pasta is chilled, add all other ingredients except pine nuts (if using).
  • Let salad chill for an hour (or more) before serving.
  • Add pine nuts at the last minute if using.

Low-fat Red Potato Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of red potatoes, skin on, cooked and diced
  • Non fat plain Greek yogurt (to taste) *Yoplait is labeled gluten-free
  • Spicy brown mustard (to taste)
  • 3 T. of mayo
  • 4 t. of sweet pickle relish
  • 2 chopped boiled eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Mix all ingredients together and let chill for at least one hour before serving.
  • Using a small amount of mayo gives it a traditional flavor without adding the traditional amount of calories.
  • Sour cream can be subbed for the mayo if desired, though that will add more calories than using mostly yogurt.

Watermelon Salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of chopped watermelon (seedless)
  • 1/2 crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup slice kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup minced green onions
  • Sea salt if desired (add when serving)

Instructions:

  • Gently blend all ingredients together and chill for at least one hour before serving.
  • This unique salad sounds strange but it’s refreshingly delicious.
  • Don’t knock it until you try it!

You might have noticed that these recipes don’t make a huge amount of food so feel free to increase the ingredients to suit your personal needs. Check out this great list of gluten-free salad recipes from Teri Gruss at About.com too!