The best of both worlds–a spinach salad and a pasta salad, all drenched in an easy, Asian dressing. Sunflower seeds give a fabulous crunch, instead of nuts, as well as water chestnuts. A cool summer must-have, this Gluten & Dairy-free Asian Pasta & Spinach Salad is also free of: wheat, eggs, soy, peanuts and tree nuts, making this top-8-free and a very allergy-friendly recipe!
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Do you ever have a recipe that you used to love, and then you forget about it? This is what happened with this Asian Pasta Salad! I first had it at work almost ten years ago when we had a potluck. It was sooo good, that I begged my co-worker to give me the recipe (thanks Cori Lynn!). This was back when I was newly married and had no children. I would make this often–even making it when I had company over.
After my son was diagnosed with his food allergies, I kind of hid all of my recipes away figuring I couldn’t have them again. I was going through memory lane and suddenly realized that this could TOTALLY be adapted to be allergy friendly and I was THRILLED to say the least. It’s like being reunited with an old family friend.
My husband, who is not a cold pasta salad lover (how are we even married!!??), actually says this is one of his favorite–although he is quirky, and has to warm his bowl up–says it’s better warm, which I say defeats the whole “cold pasta salad” thing going on. I don’t get it, but I let it slide. He has many other redeeming qualities.
If your kids are like mine, they’re not huge on spinach salads, so the fact that I tear the spinach, so it’s smaller and easier to get in their mouths, and that it’s usually wrapped around pasta, makes them a lot more willing to eat it.
If you cannot have a soy allergy (it’s one of the few top 8 we can) then you can sub out coconut aminos for the same amount, no biggie!
Frequently Asked Questions About My Gluten and Dairy-free Asian Pasta & Spinach Salad:
- Can I use another green other than spinach? Yes! My son couldn’t do spinach for years and we’ve been trialing it. Feel free to use any green you like.
- What type of gluten-free pasta do you use? I prefer Barilla as I feel it is sturdier, since it has both rice and corn in it.
- Can I use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts? Absolutely.
- We’re allergic to sunflower seeds, what can we do? You could use pumpkin seeds!
- Can I make this a few hours in advance? Yes! In fact, I recommend it, so it can soak in the dressing well. But, I wouldn’t go over a few hours so the spinach doesn’t wilt.
- Is this good as a lunch or dinner? Heck yes to both.
- I’m allergic to sesame, what can I do? You can just omit this. It just adds an extra layer of flavor, but doesn’t make or break the recipe.
- Can I adjust the salad ingredient amounts? Definitely. If you like more spinach, or more pasta, more chicken, less sunflower seeds, it’s all very flexible. If you end up adding a lot more, I’d recommend you double the dressing.
I hope that this Gluten & Dairy-free Asian Pasta & Spinach Salad helps you have a cool, refreshing meal this summer with lots of flavor and lots of crunch! Enjoy this easy dinner!
- 5 oz spinach, roughly chopped or town (half of a 10 oz bag--save the rest for smoothies!)
- 8 oz. gluten-free pasta, cooked to al dente, drained and cooled
- ½ cup salted sunflower seeds
- 2 small cans of sliced water chestnuts, drained
- 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (This is also great for leftover rotisserie!)
- ⅓ cup oil (I use canola)
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 Tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce (if you can't do soy, use coconut aminos)
- 2 Tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon jarred minced garlic
- ½ tsp. sesame seed oil (omit if you have a sesame allergy)
- In a large mixing bowl place the torn spinach, cooked and cooled pasta, sunflower seeds, drained water chestnuts and shredded chicken.
- In a jar with a fitted lid (I use a mason jar) pour all of the ingredients for the dressing: cooking oil, sugar, salt, gluten-free soy sauce, garlic, rice vinegar and sesame seed oil. Place the lid on and shake vigorously. Immediately pour over the salad.
- Toss well to coat. Serve immediately, or place in the fridge for several hours to chill before serving. Toss again before serving.
DON’T FORGET TO PIN IT, SO YOU DON’T LOSE IT! BE SURE TO ALSO CHECK OUT MY OTHER ALLERGY-FRIENDLY PINTEREST BOARDS!
Looking for more allergy-friendly pasta salads? Try these!