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This 30-minute Vegan Pasta Salad is the perfect dish for all of your get-togethers coming up this spring and summer. It’s packed with Italian flavors like vegan mozzarella, vegan pepperoni or salami, and an abundance of veggies. Toss in a simple Italian dressing, then serve at room temperature or chilled.
This Italian-inspired vegan pasta salad is one of our absolute favorite pasta salads. It’s the perfect side dish for any occasion and also makes excellent leftovers. Feel free to double or triple the recipe to serve a large crowd. We can’t wait for you to give this easy recipe a try!
Ingredients You’ll Need (+ Substitutions!)
- Veggies – The best part of making your own vegan pasta salad is it’s customizable! Add or subtract ingredients based on the seasons and your preferences. We like to use green bell pepper (orange, red, or yellow bell pepper are great too!), red onion, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes. You can also use squash, broccoli florets, green beans, fresh corn, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, peppery arugula, and diced carrots.
- Pasta – We use farfalle or “bow-tie” pasta for this pasta salad, but any smaller shaped pasta like penne pasta, orzo, ditalini, or orecchiette. If you’re looking for an amazing vegan macaroni salad, try this Vegan Deli-Style Macaroni Salad.
- Vegan cheese – Since this is an Italian-inspired pasta salad, we recommend using vegan mozzarella and vegan parmesan cheese. We used Miyoko’s classic mozzarella cheese, but they also have a smoked mozzarella-style variety that would work very well in this salad.
- “Meat” – Traditional Italian pasta salads are typically made with salami, but a vegan salami brand is hard to come by. Instead, we used a plant-based pepperoni by Sweet Earth. If desired, you could also try making your own homemade Vegan Salami recipe!
- Fresh herbs – We like adding finely chopped basil and fresh parsley to brighten the flavor and make this cold pasta salad extra herbaceous.
- Olives – If you aren’t a fan of olives, you can leave them out, but adding sliced black olives is a great way to add some additional flavor.
- Dressing ingredients – This pasta salad is dressed in a simple Italian dressing made from extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, vegan parmesan, agave, garlic, and spices.
How to Make Vegan Pasta Salad
- Cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add in 1 pound of bow tie pasta and cook according to package instructions (just past al dente).
- Prepare the pasta salad dressing. While the pasta cooks, whisk together the Italian dressing ingredients until well combined. Set aside.
- Rinse the pasta. Once the pasta is cooked, strain the pasta cooking water using a colander or fine mesh straining then run the pasta under cool water for a few seconds to stop the cooking process.
- Toss the pasta in the dressing. In a large bowl, add the cooked pasta and remaining salad ingredients, pour over the dressing, and mix until combined.
- Enjoy. This pasta salad can be served immediately or chilled in the fridge until ready to eat.
Various Ways to Use the Italian Dressing
In addition to dressing your pasta salads with homemade Italian dressing, it can also be used a number of ways. Try it with:
- Simple salads
- As a marinade for tempeh, tofu, or Easy Vegan Antipasto Skewers (7-Ingredients).
- As a dipping sauce for No Knead Bread, veggie sticks, or focaccia.
This cold pasta salad can be enjoyed as a main course, side dish, or made for an easy meal prep recipe. Bring it to birthday parties, cookouts, potlucks, holiday meals, and more in the summer months. It’s always a hit!
Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container or in a large mixing bowl tightly covered with plastic wrap or reusable wrap. Freezing pasta salad is not recommended. The texture of the pasta will not thaw well and the vegetables will not have the same crisp, crunchy texture.
Yes, absolutely. If desired, replace the wheat-based pasta with your favorite gluten-free pasta and cook it according to package instructions. If you are new to cooking with gluten-free pasta, we find that brown rice or corn-based pasta is the most realistic in texture and holds up the best in cold salads, but chickpea pasta or other legume-based pasta are great options.
This is a personal preference, but in general, it is considered better to make pasta salad about 12 hours in advance. This helps the pasta salad flavors mesh well together and become more flavorful in general.
As with any dish, it is best to let the pasta cool before refrigerating. In this particular cold pasta salad recipe, running the pasta under cool water should help stop the cooking process and begin to cool down the pasta. Then once cooled, toss in the Italian dressing and refrigerate until chilled.
Most store-bought pasta noodles are vegan. Fresh pasta or lasagne sheets can sometimes be prepared with egg, but almost all dried pasta is vegan. If you’d like to learn how to make your own vegan pasta from scratch, try our Homemade Vegan Egg Pasta, Herbed Ricotta Ravioli, or this Easy Butternut Squash Ravioli.
More Cold Vegan Salad Recipes You May Enjoy:
- Vegan Quinoa Salad – this salad is packed with protein from quinoa, black beans, and vegan feta cheese!
- Esquites-Inspired Pasta Salad – a delicious Mexican street corn-inspired salad.
- Mom’s Vegan Potato Salad -an easy oil-free potato salad made with an amazing creamy dressing.
- Easy Avocado and Corn Salad – the ultimate side dish or companion for salty Homemade Tortilla Chips.
- Classic Deli-Style Macaroni Salad – this version is spot on to the original and is one we crave every summer.
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