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Close up of the pasta salad topped with fresh basil leaves, on a woven placement.

Healthy Pasta Salad

Naturopath Lauren Glucina
A delicious, Mediterranean-inspired Healthy Pasta Salad made with gluten free red lentil penne. Serves 4 as a main or 6 as a side.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine Mediterranean, Plant-based
Servings 4
Calories 408 kcal


  • 250g red lentil penne
  • 4 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 large capsicum (bell peppers)
  • 1 head garlic
  • 250g cherry tomatoes
  • 1-2 tablespoons cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 medium eggplant (aubergine)
  • 1 preserved lemon
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves


  • To start – place an ovenproof tray on the top shelf of the oven, set it to
    grill and pump the temperature right up to high. Place whole capsicums on the tray
    and use tongs to turn them every five minutes or so. After a while, the heat
    will blister and blacken the skins.
  • Once capsicums have completely blackened, leave to cool on a board, then cut
    off the stalks and remove the skins and inner seeds. Slice into thick strips
    and set aside.
  • Reset the oven to bake, at 200˚C / 392˚F, with the baking tray on the middle shelf.
  • Slice the top off a whole head of garlic, revealing the exposed cloves.
    Drizzle with olive oil then wrap it in tinfoil. Place on a baking tray with baby
    tomatoes, then roast for about 30 minutes, removing the tomatoes after 15-20 minutes as they'll cook quicker.
  • The garlic cloves should be soft and brown by the time you’re done, and
    they should easily be squeezed from their skins – use a cocktail fork if it’s
    too hot for you, set aside.
  • While the tomatoes and garlic roast, dry toast a handful of pine nuts till fragrant then set aside.
  • Add oil to the pan and finely slice a large red onion, fry over
    low-medium heat with diced eggplant until all are soft and golden.
  • Cook pasta as per packet instructions, drain, rinse, and transfer to a large bowl.
  • Finely slice 1 preserved lemon.
  • Combine all ingredients together in the bowl and toss, add fresh basil leaves to finish.


  • You can use regular penne if you like, it doesn’t have to be gluten free. But either way, make sure you rinse under cold water for a few seconds to avoid it sticking together.
  • The type of pasta I use is made with 73% red lentils, 27% brown rice flour. It’s soft in texture, the closest I’ve found to regular pasta.
  • You can try a gluten-free grain-based pasta (for example, made with sorghum/buckwheat/quinoa flours), but in my opinion they’re just too starchy and doughy
  • If you’re short on time, you can blacken the capsicum and roast your tomatoes and garlic the day before
  • You can make your own preserved lemons (easy) or buy them
  • This dish is best served right away – red lentil penne does tend to dry out a bit
  • If you’re re-heating this dish, sprinkle a little water over the top before hand to moisten it up
  • Honestly – if you follow my ingredients and instructions exactly – you will not need a dressing! Strange but true


Calories: 408kcal
Keyword Healthy Pasta Salad
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