The best vegan pasta salad with a creamy sauce made from tofu as a secret ingredient! This is the perfect summery dinner or side dish that's packed full of wholesome ingredients and vegetables. Ready in 15 minutes and easy to make gluten-free.
I love salads, but I love pasta salads even more. I mean, salads by themselves don't keep me full for very long, so adding a carby base is super important, and gives salads a way better reputation. Add plenty of vegetables, a dressing of your choice, and perfection is on the table.
If you're looking for a new and creative pasta salad recipe to try out, I would 100% recommend you give this one a go. Despite the simple list of ingredients, you'll be amazed at how gourmet it tastes!
About this creamy vegan pasta salad
I've tried many pasta salad recipes over the last month or so, and this is definitely one of my favourites. There's a real emphasis on vibrant, colourful vegetables and their ability to create an interesting dish without any complicated preparation method. Of course, when you make this pasta salad, you can add any other ones depending on your preference.
As I mentioned, the key to making a salad filling is adding the pasta base. I usually use gluten-free penne for pasta salads, but any other short pasta works, too. Just make sure to never overcook it because gluten-free pasta in particular can be quite fragile and could fall apart when you're stirring it with the other ingredients.
If you're someone that loves pasta and loves salads, this is the perfect meal for you! You can serve it either as a main course, or a side dish to bring along to BBQs and outdoor gatherings. Vegans and non-vegans alike will love this dish.
Sauce made from tofu
I just love secret ingredients: ingredients that are unusual, but give dishes their distinctive qualities. The one with comes to mind immediately is cashews, which are often blended into cashew sauces and cheese alternatives. But tofu is another great one. In general, tofu is eaten as it is either fried or baked, but there are so many different ways to make tofu taste good.
One of them is sauces, as this recipe demonstrates. Typically, silken tofu makes a great option for blending, as it has the highest water content out of the most popular tofu categories and adds a silky smooth texture to soups, smoothies, sauces etc. But, for a denser and more filling texture, firm and extra firm tofu come in. They are very neutral by themselves, so you can flavour them however you'd like.
Here, we're making a garlicky, refreshing and creamy dressing that clings to the pasta and goes very well with the vegetables. I always like to make a little bit extra and use, for instance, as a dip or a spread. I even eat it by itself with a spoon because it's that delicious!
Ingredients and substitutions
- Pasta of your choice. To effortlessly make this dish gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta.
- Extra firm tofu. Silken tofu also works.
- Plant based milk of your choice. If you want to make the sauce creamier, you can use coconut milk from a can.
- Onion. This is added to the sauce for an earthy flavor.
- Onion powder.
- Nutritional yeast. This is used for adding a hint of cheesiness to the sauce.
- Lemon juice. A perfect ingredient for adding tanginess and freshness.
Vegetables for vegan pasta salad
The great thing about pasta salads is that you can use any vegetables of your choice. For this recipe, I used carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, celery and arugula. However, you can go ahead and add any other veggies or leafy greens that you have in the fridge.
For instance, spinach, steamed kale and lettuce all work well. I also love adding broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, sweetcorn and green peas. Both cooked and raw vegetables make a great addition to a pasta salad like this.
How to make the best creamy vegan pasta salad
First, cook the pasta according to packaging instructions until al dente. Drain when done.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by adding the tofu, plant based milk, onion, salt, onion powder, nutritional yeast, garlic and lemon juice to a blender or food processor, and blending until smooth.
Transfer the pasta to a large mixing bowl and add the carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, celery and arugula. Mix together.
Next, pour in the sauce and mix together really well once more. Serve immediately or leave to chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
How can you store pasta salad?
Pasta salad is a great meal prep option that keeps well in the fridge. Store it in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the fridge. I would not, however, recommend freezing it as the sauce will not be smooth when defrosted.
Other vegan salad recipes
- My potato salad with smoky tempeh is great for a summery side dish.
- Make a zucchini sweet potato salad in no time!
- My massaged kale salad with roasted chickpeas is so easy to make & flavorful.
- Try a cold spaghetti salad with balsamic tofu either as a side dish or main course.
- Make falafel salad with tahini dressing for a delicious weeknight meal.
Let me know in the comments: what's your go-to salad recipe? If you give this creamy vegan pasta salad a go, be sure to tag me on Instagram (@earthomariaa) so I can see your creations, and leave your feedback in the comments below, together with a star rating!
- 10 oz gluten-free pasta
- 10 oz extra firm tofu
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 large onion
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ lemon juice of
- 1 cup carrots peeled and chopped
- 1 cup cucumber chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 large bell pepper de-seeded and diced
- 1 cup zucchini chopped
- 1 cup celery chopped
- 2 cups arugula
- Cook the pasta according to packaging instructions until al dente. Drain when done.
- Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by adding the tofu, plant based milk, onion, salt, onion powder, nutritional yeast, garlic and lemon juice to a blender or food processor, and blending until smooth.
- Transfer the pasta to a large mixing bowl and add the carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, celery and arugula. Mix together.
- Pour in the sauce and mix together really well once more. Serve immediately or leave to chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.