Pasta Salad with Coriander "Pesto"

This is a wonderful summery pasta to serve for dinner, lots of happy colours and satisfying textures - and you get to have it for lunch the next day as well (warm slightly in the microwave for 30 seconds or so to refresh the texture of the pasta). It would also go really well with a barbecue - try with my Unreasonably Good Slaw and Barbecue Ribs or Spicy Chicken Wings.

Use whichever Gluten-Free pasta you usually use - the best kind I’ve found is brown rice pasta, it holds its shape better and is the most similar in texture to normal wheat pasta of all the GF options I’ve tried.

This is a “fridge-raider” recipe - use your odds and ends of salad fruit and veg if you don’t have something on the ingredients list. Strawberries and grapes work well!
You could vary the cheese as well - a mature cheddar is always welcome in a pasta salad. I used the mozzarella here for the light Mediterranean summery feel (hint: pair with rose wine and a barbecue!)

I love my food processor. Time-saving kitchen gadgets in general (I have a cupboard-full), but particularly my food processor (which lives out on the worktop!). I have not only used it to make the pesto in this recipe, but also to prepare the radishes! I find them fiddly and annoying to finely slice by hand, but it takes about 3 seconds to slice a dozen of them using the food processor slicing attachment. Brilliant! But don’t panic if you don’t have one - try chopping the radishes into chunks instead (unless you don’t mind spending time slicing them). For the pesto, simply finely chop all of the ingredients, and then chop them together and mix well, or use a mortar and pestle.

FODMAP-rating: Good; leave out the raisins and cannellini beans if you’re in your elimination phase or know you can’t tolerate these
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 10 minutes to cook the pasta, 30 minutes to assemble
Serves: 6-8, depending on whether it’s a side or a main


For the pasta salad:
  • 500 g dried pasta, cooked, drained and tossed in lots of olive oil
  • ½ red pepper, cut into small dice
  • 5cm cucumber, chopped into small dice or matchsticks
  • ¼ melon, seeded and peeled, chopped into small chunks
  • 6 medium radishes, thinly sliced
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 100g reduced fat mozzarella, chopped into small chunks
  • 1 spring onion, thinly sliced (no white bits!)
  • 50g pumpkin seeds, toasted in a frying pan for a minute or so until brown and popping.
  • A couple of pinches of rock salt
  • Plenty of black pepper
  • Optional - 100g raisins (if tolerated)
  • Optional - 100g soaked cannellini beans (if tolerated)
  • Optional - 1 tsp curry powder, ground coriander or ground cumin.
  • Optional - ham or marinated anchovies (to serve)
For the coriander “pesto”:
  • 50g chopped coriander, stalks and leaves
  • 1 spring onion (no white bits!) roughly sliced
  • 3 large spring green leaves, roughly chopped
  • 30g sesame seeds
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 50g fresh parmesan, finely grated
  • A pinch of rock salt
  • 3 tbsp oil (I use a mixture of garlic and plain olive)


For the pasta salad:
  • Cook the dried pasta as per the packaging instructions, al dente works best for pasta salad - toss it around in olive oil to coat thoroughly once you’ve drained it so it doesn’t stick together in a nasty gummy mess!
  • Prepare the other salad ingredients as above, and mix everything together with the pasta in a large mixing bowl.
For the coriander “pesto”:
  • Chop and slice the “pesto” ingredients as above and pop it all in a food processor or blender and blend for several minutes until as smooth as possible.
  • Loosen with a few tablespoons of water if necessary.

Serve the pasta salad with the “pesto” stirred through or spooned on top.
You can substitute the coriander for parsley, basil or thyme if preferred. If you have lots of the “pesto” left over, try using it as a dip or chop some veg into it (cucumber works well) to serve on a leafy salad or mixed with yoghurt on a baked sweet potato.