Vegan Italian Pasta Salad

June 27, 2020

Summer is the time for big batch salads! Potato salad, Greek salad, and pasta salads like classic macaroni or this vegan Italian pasta salad are great for summer.

Close up of fusilli pasta, tomatoes, and herbs in vegan Italian pasta salad.
This vegan Italian pasta salad is quick, easy, and full of flavour. Fusilli pasta, fresh herbs, a colourful array of summer tomatoes, tofu “feta”, olives, pepperoncinis, red onion and a basil dressing. It’s perfect for summer barbeques and picnics.

A carton of colourful mixed summer tomatoes.
It takes less than 35 minutes to throw together. Make the basil dressing and prepare the tofu while the pasta boils. Prepare the rest of the vegetables while you marinate the tofu and chill the pasta. Once the pasta is cold, toss everything together and you’re done!

Vegan Italian pasta salad ingredients in a mixing bowl.

5-Minute Basil Dressing

The tangy basil dressing is based on the vinaigrette in our Greek salad recipe. Just throw everything into a blender and blitz until the dressing is a creamy light green with plenty of basil flecks throughout.

Vegan Italian basil salad dressing in a jar.

Tips for Flavourful Pasta Salad

  • Cook the pasta longer than the directions suggest. Al denté is ideal for hot pasta dishes, but for pasta salads you want to slightly overcook the pasta. The pasta firms up a lot once it’s cold.
  • Don’t rinse all the starch off the pasta. Give it a super quick rinse with hot water, just passing it under the water once or twice. It’ll help the dressing cling to the noodles but it won’t pick up so much that it makes the salad dry.
  • Always mix the dressing into the pasta while it’s hot and then chill it.
  • Corkscrew pastas like fusilli or rotini are ideal because they have lots of surface area to pick up the flavourful dressing.
  • Soak raw onions in salt water and then rinse. This tames the onion flavour so it doesn’t overwhelm the whole salad. If you like a lot of onion flavour, just add more!

Vegan Italian pasta salad in a dark wooden bowl.

Customization Ideas

This vegan Italian pasta salad recipe is a great base for you to customize to your liking. Spinach, bell peppers, pickled jalapenos, green olives, marinated artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and sun-dried tomatoes are all great options.

More Vegan Summer Salads

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Vegan Italian pasta salad in a dark wooden bowl with salad tossing spoons.

Vegan Italian Pasta Salad


  • Author:
    Brittany Mueller

  • Prep Time:
    25 minutes

  • Cook Time:
    10 minutes

  • Total Time:
    35 minutes + chilling time

  • Yield:
    12 cups

  • Category:
    Sides, Salads

  • Cuisine:
    Vegan


Description

This vegan Italian pasta salad is quick, easy, and full of flavour. Fusilli pasta, fresh herbs, a colourful array of summer tomatoes, tofu “feta”, olives, pepperoncinis, red onion and a basil dressing. It’s perfect for summer barbeques and picnics.


Ingredients

Basil Dressing:

  • ¾ cup (175 ml) canola oil (or other neutral tasting oil)
  • ⅓ cup (80 ml) white vinegar
  • ⅓ cup (80 ml) water
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) *coarse sea salt
  • ½ tbsp (7.5 ml) garlic powder
  • ½ tbsp (7.5 ml) onion powder
  • ⅛ cup (30 ml) *fresh basil, add more to taste
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) dried basil, add more to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste

Vegan Italian Pasta Salad:

  • 1 lb (454 grams) fusilli pasta
  • 175 grams (½ block) firm or extra-firm tofu, *pressed and broken up into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp (4 grams) nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 cups (400 grams) chopped cherry tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup fresh herbs (I use basil and flat-leaf parsley), packed and chopped
  • ⅓ cup (35 grams) Kalamata olives, chopped
  • ⅓ cup (55 grams) chopped red onion, soaked in salt water and rinsed
  • ¼ cup (4-5) chopped pickled pepperoncinis (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions, but add an extra minute to the cooking time. The pasta should be just slightly overcooked (past al denté). While the pasta boils, prepare the dressing.
  2. Add all of the dressing ingredients (oil, vinegar, water, sea salt, garlic powder, onion powder, fresh basil, and dried basil), to a blender. Blend on medium-high speed until the dressing is a creamy light green with plenty of fresh basil pieces flecked throughout.
  3. Drain the pasta and transfer it to a large bowl. Immediately toss the hot pasta with ⅔ of the dressing (enough to liberally coat). Chill.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the *tofu with nutritional yeast. Stir in the remaining dressing and chill.
  5. Once the pasta is cold, mix in the tofu and dressing mixture, tomatoes, olives, chopped herbs, pepperoncinis, and red onion. Chill. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving.

Notes

* Be sure to use coarse sea salt. If using fine sea salt, start with a 1½ tsp. Taste and adjust the dressing with more salt as needed. The dressing should still taste strong and salty to adequately season the large volume of pasta.

*If needed, you can prepare the dressing without fresh basil. Increase the amount of dried basil to 2-3 tsp, add more to taste.

*For best flavour and texture, press as much moisture out of the tofu as possible. I like to slice it up before pressing it to increase the surface area. After that, I break it up into small pieces and briefly press it again (using my hands) to further remove excess moisture.

Keywords: pasta salad, vegan pasta salad, italian pasta salad

The post Vegan Italian Pasta Salad appeared first on I LOVE VEGAN.

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