Taco-Style Pasta Salad

The recipe for pasta salad in Cooking for Your Gluten Free Teen (page 101) works like a charm, but it requires a certain amount of work in preparation. Most of the labor involves keeping the ingredients dry, because wet ingredients spell disaster for refrigerated pasta salads.

For the summer months ahead I developed an easier pasta salad with a different flavor profile. This salad would even be possible for Sarah to prepare at college because the ingredients are all pantry staples, and the quantity is somewhat smaller.

A 12-ounce bag of gluten free pasta makes for fewer leftovers.

The beauty of this new salad, aside from the easier preparation, is the great new flavor: black beans, tuna, mild chilies, cheddar cheese, black olives, crisp corn chips and a surprise dressing of chunky tomato salsa. The black beans are rinsed and drained in a colander and all the other canned ingredients are added to drain without rinsing. Already shredded packaged cheese comes both in finely and coarsely shredded. I prefer coarsely shredded for this recipe.

Who could ask for anything more? I could, because I would like a pasta salad that uses chicken and has a completely different flavor profile. So visit me next week for Easy Chicken Pasta Salad with Ranch Dressing.


Taco-Style Pasta Salad

Yield: 8 servings


  • 1 (12-ounce) package gluten free penne pasta
  • 1 (15 ½ ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained in colander
  • 1(3.8-ounce) can sliced ripe olives, drained (in same colander)
  • 1 (4-ounce) can mild diced green chilies, drained (in same colander)
  • 2 (5-ounce) cans chunk light tuna (in oil or water), drained, in same colander
  • 1 cup coarsely shredded Cheddar cheese
  • ¾ cup chunky mild tomato salsa
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Gluten-free corn chips, as needed for garnish
  • Extra shredded cheese and tomato salsa, for garnish


  1. Cook the pasta in 6 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain and rinse well under cold running water. Shake colander to remove excess water then turn pasta out onto a clean tea towel. Roll towel loosely and set aside.
  2. Place beans, olives, chilies, tuna and cheese in a large bowl. Add reserved pasta and toss to combine. Add salsa and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper, tossing well. May be refrigerated, covered, for 6 hours or overnight. Or may be served at room temperature.
  3. Serve with a large bowl of corn chips, and smaller bowls of extra salsa and Cheddar for garnishing.


Variations: Substitute chopped pitted kalamata olives for ripe olives (extra work), hot salad and chilies for mild (extra spice).




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