This easy vegan pasta salad recipe is quick to make, refreshing, and seasoned with a delicious lemon-mustard vinaigrette dressing.
It's perfect as a make-ahead lunch and dinner - for work or at home. And it is incredibly nutritious and full of healthy vitamins.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Pasta: pick one made with hard wheat flour, water and nothing else. We prefer farfalle (butterfly) shaped pasta for this recipe as they look pretty and have a great bite. You can use any short pasta like penne, fusilli, maccheroni, etc.
- Coarse sea salt: this is a must for pasta cooking when salting the pasta water. Imported from Italy or France is best.
- Green asparagus: we prefer green for the colour.
- Cherry tomatoes: any type of small vine tomato is fine as long as is bright red. We want this for colour and sweetness.
- Sweet corn: It adds sweetness, crunch, and colour.
- Black pitted olives: olives add umami to this salad. Make sure you get olives without pits. Olives in brine are fine, make sure you drain the salted water away before tossing them in the salad. We prefer black ones for the colour.
- Red bell pepper: perfect for crunch, colour and sweetness. Green peppers are too sour. Yellow and orange work too.
- Avocado: get a ripe avocado, but not an over-ripe one, or it'll mash and cloud the pasta salad. Avocado is perfect to add some healthy fats and creaminess to this recipe.
- Red onion: shallots work too. Red is best for colour.
- Salt and Pepper: keep some extra fine sea salt and black pepper at hand for a final seasoning touch.
If you want to increase protein
Feel free to add a can of chickpeas or ½ cups of cooked red or green lentils, they will go amazing with these ingredients.
Salt the pasta water with coarse sea salt
Italians cook pasta in plenty of salted boiling water. This is because the salted water will give a fuller flavour to the pasta. If you only add salt at the end, you will not get the same flavour.
Add the salt after the water is boiling
Adding salt only once the water is already boiling as adding it before will extend the water boiling time.
Use a large pot with plenty of water
In Italy, the rule is 1L of water for 100 grams of pasta. Why? First, enough water will prevent the pasta from sticking together. Second, the pasta won't become gluey. Third, some of the water will evaporate and if you put too little the pasta won't cook evenly.
Don't put oil in the pasta water
The only time you should put a little oil in the pasta water is when you are cooking fresh pasta that is not completely dry. In all other cases, you should not add any oil. In fact, the oil will make it harder for the condiments and sauces to stick to the pasta.
Don't cover the pasta while it boils
Use a lid while you wait for the water to boil. It will boil faster. As soon as you add the pasta to the water you will not need a lid anymore. The lid will make the water overflow.
Cook the pasta al dente
Al dente means that the pasta has some bite. The best way to do cook pasta al dente is to look at the cooking time on the pasta package and cook 1 minute less than instructed.
Cool the pasta under cold running water
Cooling the pasta under running cold water will make sure your pasta won't keep cooking with the residual heat, and become overcooked. We recommend this step with all cold pasta dishes.
Some more tips
Keep the asparagus crunchy
Like the pasta, the asparagus are best served with a little bite, and not mushy and overcooked. Their colour will also be brighter if you don't overcook them.
Let the pasta sit for 30 min before eating it
This is done to let the flavours come together. The pasta salad will taste a lot better this way. If you store the pasta salad in the fridge, let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to regain flavour.
Add some chickpea for a more complete protein profile
To get a full protein profile with all essential amino acids you can add some chickpeas or green peas to this easy pasta salad.
Legumes, in general, contain a high level of Lysine, an essential protein building block, but are deficient in Methionine. On the other hand, pasta and grains, in general, are rich in Methionine (another essential protein building block), but deficient in Lysine. So grains and legumes together are highly recommended for a healthy and balanced vegan diet.
Questions & answers
Yes, this recipe is perfect for gluten-free pasta alternatives. Just make sure they are also vegan by looking at the label.
Al dente means "to the tooth" literally. Pasta cooked al dente is pasta that retains some bite, and it's slightly undercooked. Pasta al dente is better for taste, texture and it is also easier to digest.
A vinaigrette is a dressing generally used for salads and gives the pasta salad a delicious finish. Vinaigrette is made by mixing an oil with something acidic such as vinegar or lemon juice. The mixture can be enhanced with salt, herbs and/or spices.
Yes. You can use any short-shaped pasta for this recipe. Fusilli, conchiglie, penne, will all work.
Yes, but make sure you keep into account three things when you change the veggies: 1) colours - you want bright colours that go well together, 2) textures - you want a mix of crunchy, soft, and creamy, 3) flavours - you want sweet, acidic, and umami.
Baked vegetables are also delicious in this pasta salad. Follow this recipe for Italian Roasted Vegetables for inspiration.
Yes, this recipe is perfect for food prep and tastes even better a few hours after it's been made.
Vegan pasta salad recipe
- 360 grams (13 oz) uncooked farfalle pasta
- 1 tbsp salt (for the pasta water)
- 250 grams (2 cups) green asparagus
- 120 grams (½ cup) cherry tomatoes
- 100 grams (½ cup) sweet corn
- 60 grams (½ cup) pitted olives
- 1 avocado
- 0.5 red bell pepper
- ¼ red onion
- 2 piches sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ½ lemon
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 pinch sea salt
- In a bowl, add the olive oil, mustard powder, grated garlic, lemon juice, salt and whisk well.
- In a large pot, bring the water to boil, then add the sea salt, and then add the pasta. Cook the pasta al dente. In a smaller pot, boil the asparagus for 5 minutes. We only used the tops of the asparagus as they are more tender and prettier. When cooked, drain the pasta and the asparagus and cool them under cold running water.
- In a large bowl, add the pasta, sweet corn, pitted olives, chopped red onion, and boiled asparagus.
- Then open an avocado, remove the stone inside, cut it into cubes and add it to the pasta salad.
- Add the mustard-lemon vinaigrette into the bowl, add a pinch of salt and pepper and mix very well.
- Let rest for about 20 minutes before serving to allow the flavours to come together.
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Did you try this recipe at home? Let us know in the comments below, or take a picture and tag us on Instagram @italiaplantbased.