Creamy caesar pasta salad is tossed with avocado, romaine lettuce, tomatoes and crispy garlic chickpeas. Drizzle on your choice of homemade or store bought caesar dressing (we used homemade vegan dressing!), for a flavorful-packed side dish. Or even add chicken to make it a meal!
Never face the dilemna of what to bring to a potluck again. Your summertime menu just got easier because I promise this simple caesar pasta salad will be your go-to. It can easily be made gluten free and vegan so everyone can enjoy it!
6 Simple Ingredients
- Rotini pasta or another short grain pasta like bowtie (we used a gluten free option).
- Caesar dressing (keep reading for a few options!)
- Large ripe avocado: you'll know it's ripe when it's still somewhat firm to touch, but gives slightly when you push down on the skin.
- Cherry tomatoes (would be so good from your garden!).
- Chopped romaine lettuce (but kale would be great too!).
- Chickpeas roasted to crunchy perfection in olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic.
Caesar Dressing Options
The caesar dressing is the star of this recipe, which means it's important to have a delicious quality recipe. What's in Caesar dressing? Usually a mix of mayo, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, salt and parmesan cheese.
Depending on your dietary needs and the time you have to make this recipe, here are a few dressing options:
- Homemade vegan caesar dressing: this is my recommendation and the one I chose to use for this recipe (and will make every time!). It's plant based and naturally vegan and dairy free so you know exactly what's in it.
- Store-bought dairy free/paleo caesar dressing: if you want to keep the ingredients clean you can opt for a brand like Tessamae for a simple caesar dressing.
- Classic caesar dressing: this option is simple and affordable! You can find any caesar dressing in the grocery store.
How to Make Caesar Pasta Salad
- Prep ingredients: make the pasta according to the package directions then make the caesar dressing if desired. Drain the pasta and rinse it under cold water.
- Toss the pasta: drizzle half of the caesar dressing over the pasta and toss well. Cover and store in the fridge to settle and marinade.
- Roast the chickpeas: toss them in olive oil, salt, pepper and minced garlic on a baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes until crispy and golden.
- Prep the veggies: wash and chop the romaine lettuce and tomatoes and slice and chop the avocado.
- Mix and serve: add all of the veggies to the pasta salad and toss well. Top with the crispy chickpeas and remaining dressing right before serving.
Caesar Pasta Salad: Frequently Asked Questions
A short cut pasta like penne, bowtie or rotini are best for pasta salads. Go even further and choose one that has a lot of twists and grooves (like rotini) to hold in all that creamy sauce or dressing.
Pasta salad with dressing on it will last up to 3 days in the fridge.
This caesar pasta salad is GREAT as is, but you could also add chopped bacon, hard boiled eggs, kale or croutons.
Most consider this an unhealthy option because of the amount of calories, sugar and or sodium in it. The dressing is option heavy and it's usually topped with croutons and parmesan cheese. However, this caesar pasta salad recipe calls for crispy chickpeas here and we also added avocado for healthy fat and used a vegan caesar dressing from scratch to keep the ingredients clean.
Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
If you're craving this as a meal and want to add something hearty to it, cube some rotisserie chicken and toss it before serving. It adds calories and protein that will balance an entire meal and keep you full.
Storage and Make Ahead Instructions
- How to prep in advance: make the dressing, pasta and chickpeas up to 5 days in advance. Toss half the dressing with the pasta then prep the veggies and finish mixing. This saves tons of time!
- Traveling with it? If you're taking it to a party, leave the last half of the dressing and chickpeas off in separate containers. Top and toss right before serving.
- Store in the fridge: Cover tightly and store for up to 3 days. Note the avocado can turn brown after being cut and the chickpeas won't be quite as crunchy. If you're trying to save time for a party, I recommend following the instructions to prep in advance. If you're storing leftovers, this is a great option!
If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a star rating ★ below. You can also tag me on Instagram so I can see it!
More pasta salads:
Caesar Pasta Salad
For the caesar pasta salad
- 1 (12 ounce) package of rotini or bowtie pasta (I used gluten free)
- 1 batch of homemade vegan caesar or 1 cup of store bought caesar dressing (we like Tessemae's paleo Caesar)
- 3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- 1 avocado cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
For the crispy chickpeas
- 1 (15.5 ounce) can of chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- To top: fresh cracked black pepper and chopped parsley
- Optional: Rotisserie or grilled chicken cut into cubes
- Make the pasta according to the package directions then rinse in cold water. If you're making your own vegan dressing, blend all of the ingredients together in a food processor (it should be about 1 cup). Mix 1/2 cup of your choice of caesar dressing with the prepared pasta then store in the fridge.
- To make the chickpeas, preheat the oven to 425°F. Rinse and drain the chickpeas and spread on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and top with garlic, salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes.
- While they're roasting, prep the veggies. Wash and cut the romaine and tomatoes. Cut the avocado into pieces then add all three to the prepared pasta with dressing and toss. You can also add optional diced chicken. Store for up to 3 days at this point or serve right away.
- Right before serving, add the roasted chickpeas and remaining 1/2 cup of caesar dressing. This helps keep the chickpeas as crunchy as possible. Top with fresh cracked pepper and chopped parsley if desired.