Since summer is officially here, taking a chilled pasta salad to a park potluck, on a road trip, or just enjoying it right out of fridge is fun and exciting. However, after gluten-free pasta has been chilled, the noodles can become dry and stiff. Have you ever experienced this disaster? After reading today’s post and following a few tips, you’ll put an end to those stiff noodles for good. This summer tahini pasta salad will rock your summer parties.
I enjoyed cold pasta salad ever since I was a child. My mom would often serve mouth-watering, spicy pasta salad on those hot days. With all different sauces, spices, and herbs, pasta salad from her kitchen was never boring. I inherited her affection for pasta salad and passed it on to my son, Leo.
This summer tahini pasta salad is one of my mom’s favorites. Although my mother used wheat pasta back then, I can easily adapt the gluten-free version using brown rice spaghetti. With the addition of shredded cucumber (using one of my favorite tools, the vegetable spiralizer) and lightly cooked carrots, this salad is refreshing, appealing, and perfect for the summer.
Like I said earlier, sometimes pasta can be very stiff and dry when it’s cold. From my experience, gluten-free pasta has even more trouble with this. No one could possibly like that stiff texture. You might think that adding more water will solve the problem. Nope! Too much water just makes things worse. When pasta soaks in water and gets cold, it will turn to mush. It can totally ruin the texture of the entire dish.
Here is my mom’s trick to make cold pasta soft but not mushy.
- Rinse the cooked pasta with cold water and drain well.
- Toss the pasta with a little bit of oil.
The oil provides a hydrophobic barrier and prevents the pasta from sticking together. It also helps the pasta retain its moisture. She learned this trick from my grandma and passed it on to me. Hopefully Leo will also carry the torch.
I toss the cooked-rinsed-drained gluten-free spaghetti with hot oil, minced garlic, chopped green onions, and cayenne pepper. Then I cover the dish with a lid and add the shredded cucumber, carrots, and sauce right before serving. If you add the salty sauce too early, the cucumber will lose its crunchiness.
If you follow this recipe instruction closely, I guarantee you won’t get stiff pasta at all. If you have any leftovers or prepare the dish ahead of time, it will still be soft even if kept in the refrigerator for a couple days. Does that sound like the perfect dish you can prepare in advance and bring to a picnic when the time comes?
- 10 cups water
- 1 large carrot, shredded
- 10 oz uncooked gluten-free spaghetti
- 1 large cucumber, seeded and shredded
- 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne or chili pepper
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon gluten-free low sodium soy sauce
- 1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- ½ teaspoon organic coconut sugar
- 3 tablespoons spice broth (see note for instructions)
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Blanch shredded carrots for 1 minute. Use a ladle to remove the lightly cooked carrots and place in a strainer; set aside.
- Add uncooked spaghetti into the saucepan and cook according to package directions; rinse with cold water and drain well. Use a salad spinner to remove excess water if necessary.
- Transfer the cooked spaghetti into a large mixing bowl. Place chopped green onion, minced garlic, and cayenne pepper on top of the spaghetti.
- Heat a skillet over high heat until it’s smoky hot. Add oil and wait for 15-30 seconds until the oil is hot. Pour the hot oil over the green onion, garlic, and cayenne pepper. Gently toss. Cover the mixing bowl with lid and set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining sauce ingredients. Before serving, combine the shredded cucumber, carrots, and spaghetti. Pour the sauce into the spaghetti and toss gently.
- Sprinkle sesame seeds to garnish.