This delicious and healthy dill pasta salad pickles recipe is a light and fresh take on the original. Made dairy free, gluten free, and packed with healthy omega-rich fats and veggies, it’s crunchy and colourful and loaded with nutrients!
A Healthy Take on Dill Pasta Salad Pickles
Oy, what weird times we are living in. While the start of April has felt like nothing less than the twilight zone, I am pretty happy we’ve made it here. This month we finally get to move into our newly renovated house (woo hoo!) and it’s the early start of Spring (yes, Spring starts that late here in the Canadian prairies!) so I’m praying this snow goes away for good and the warm weather comes. Spring always brings lighter dishes into my kitchen as I naturally start veering away from the winter comfort food.
It’s also the season of baby showers, brunches, and barbecues (given we will all be free to gather together again sooner than later…). That’s why this healthier dill pickle pasta salad is perfect for April. Dill pickle fans rejoice! It’s a lightened up, crunchy, colourful and healthier take on the traditional dill pickle pasta salad, and it won my Dad over when I made it for the blog (that says a lot, as I’ve mentioned before, he’s a pickier eater than my toddler, ha!). Enjoy this summer meal because I know we have.
Ingredients in Dill Pasta Salad Pickles
Traditionally, this delicious pasta salad recipe is usually made with regular pasta, chopped pickles, cheddar cheese, onion, mayonnaise, and sour cream. Yep, it’s as rich and creamy as it sounds, loaded with dairy, tastes pretty amazing, but is far from the lightest, healthiest, and freshest pasta salad out there. It’s definitely a crowd pleaser and family favorite.
To make my own healthier version of this creamy pasta salad recipe. I’ve switched and swapped a few ingredients and added in a nice dose of crunchy veggies to add in more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and omega-rich fats. I also decided to keep my version gluten free and dairy free for those who are trying to or need to avoid either.
To make this healthy dill pickle pasta salad here’s what you’ll need:
- Gluten-free pasta (or any dry pasta like bowtie pasta, bowtie pasta, elbow macaroni)
- Fresh dill for that great dill pickle flavor
- Dill pickles (I recommend using a brand that doesn’t contain the tartrazine additive)
- Dairy free cheddar cheese (I used Daiya brand) can also use sharp cheddar cheese or colby jack cheese
- Cherry tomatoes
- Red onion
Creamy Dill Pickle Pasta Salad Dressing
For the creamy dressing, I opted to swap out the sour cream and use another super creamy but much healthier alternative in combination with mayonnaise and dill. This superfood ingredient adds omega-3 fats, vitamins, and fibre. If you haven’t figured it out yet, it’s avocado! I also used honey to add some natural sweetness to the dressing and a touch of lemon for freshness.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this delicious, healthier creamy dill pickle salad dressing:
- Mayonnaise (I used an olive oil based mayo)
- Lemon juice
- Dill pickle juice
- Fresh dill
- Salt and pepper
How to Make Dill Pickle Pasta Salad
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until it is al dente. Once cooked, drain the water and rinse the noodles under cold running water for 2-3 minutes to help stop the cooking process. Set the cooled noodles aside in a bowl.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the dressing by mixing all of the ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Set the dressing aside.
Add your chopped cherry tomatoes, crunchy dill pickles, onions, radishes, cheddar cheese, and dill to a large salad bowl. Set aside.
Once the pasta has fully cooked, pour your tender pasta into a colander to drain the hot water. Immediately rinse under cold water until the cooked pasta is chilled and no longer warm. Let the water drain from the pasta before using it so that you don’t water down the salad recipe.
Pour the dressing over the cooled pasta in the pasta bowl and toss well to coat until well combined.
Transfer the coated pasta to the bowl with the fresh veggies and mix again, to combine and evenly distribute your vegetables and cheese.
Chill the pasta in the fridge and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to help the flavors develop.
Give your pasta one last stir to help redistribute everything before serving.
Tips for Dill Pickle Pasta Salad
When it comes to making a delicious, healthier pasta salad like this there are a few things to keep in mind!
- Make Ahead: Often, pasta salads are made a day or two ahead of an event like a baby shower or BBQ. I always like this idea because the flavours intensify over time and better the next day, but the salad can also get a little dry as the pasta and other ingredients soak up the dressing. If you plan to make this easy pasta salad recipe ahead of time I recommend making an additional 1/2 batch of the dressing and mixing it in an hour or so before serving, that way the salad will keep a nice, creamy consistency.
- Freezing. I do not recommend freezing this recipe as it will not hold up well once thawed.
- Storage: This salad is best stored in the fridge once made and if there are any leftovers after serving, it will last for up to 5 days.
- Veggie Add-Ins: If you want to get creative feel free to add in any other veggies of choice (think green peas, shredded carrots, and celery). The sky’s the limit!
Do I have to rinse my pasta?
Yes, rinsing your cooked pasta under cold water will help to stop the cooking process. This means that the pasta won’t become overly mushy and soggy in your salad and will hold up well to the wetness of the salad dressing. It also helps to wash off the excess starches on the pasta that would otherwise keep the pasta stuck together.
How long is pickle pasta salad good for?
This salad can be kept in an airtight container or well-covered bowl in the fridge for 3-5 days.
Can I use dried dill instead of fresh?
Yes, if you cannot find fresh dill or if you already have dried dill on hand then you can go ahead and use that instead. you will need at least a teaspoon’s worth to start, but add in more to taste as you go.
Have you already begun making and enjoying Spring-inspired recipes? I’d love to know what you are making in your kitch! Tell me about it in the comments section and be sure to pin the photo below to save this recipe for later and of course, share the love!