This vegan cold spaghetti salad with balsamic tofu is ideal for potlucks, BBQs and parties as a side dish or main course. Also a fantastic plant based meal prep option - it's even tastier the next day! Super easy to make for a plant based summertime feast.
People always joke that vegans eat a lot of salad. I go out of my way, in turn, to prove them wrong, by flaunting countless pasta dishes, burgers, and other comfort foods sourced either from the supermarket or my own kitchen.
But that makes me stop and think: there is nothing wrong with eating lots of salad! The word has negative connotations, for sure. You imagine a miserable bowl with a couple of lettuce leaves and cherry tomatoes, perhaps. Yet if you do them right, salads can become anyone's latest addiction!
Hence, this cold spaghetti salad with balsamic tofu. After all, pasta makes everything better - so let's not dwell and get straight to the food.
Vegan Cold Spaghetti Salad
As I write this, it's the start of March and I'm already getting excited for the summer. Summer means long days, warmer weather, and of course, BBQs. BBQs = lots of food, which is basically music to my ears. And of course, no one has to miss out, regardless of their dietary preferences!
The fab thing about this spaghetti salad is that it's not a vegan-only dish. Therefore everyone will love the creamy, satisfying and intense tanginess of it. Each forkful carries the chewiness of spaghetti, the creamy tahini dressing, and crunch from an array of vibrant vegetables. No one will ever guess that this dish is entirely plant based and made from healthy ingredients!
Balsamic tofu 'feta' cheese
The balsamic tofu is probably my favourite part of this recipe. However, make sure not to skip or shorten the marinading stage, as this is the step when the flavours really come together and take tofu from plain to an absolute melt in your mouth deliciousness.
In this spaghetti salad, the tofu acts as a bit of a feta cheese replacement. I used to add feta to salads all the time before going vegan. And, I quickly learned that it is very easy indeed to replace! You can also add this tofu to other dishes - how about adding a few chunks to a falafel salad, or serving on top of cauliflower steak?
Creamy Tahini Dressing
The key to an excellent salad, of course, is the dressing. After all, no good dressing = plain, boring sameness. However, with the right combo of ingredients? You won't be able to stop eating the exact dish you were sceptical of.
And the key to a good dressing is quite often tahini. It has an earthy, nutty flavour that works well in countless dishes. I'm so obsessed, I sometimes eat it by itself with a spoon like it's peanut butter. Ok, I admit that some of my eating habits are a bit strange (lol), but I think we can all agree that tahini is magic.
Making this dressing is as simple as stirring the ingredients together. What you end up with is tangy, summery, and mild to balance out the marinade of the tofu. This is just what you need for a great pasta salad! But you can serve this tahini dressing with other dishes too, such as my sheet pan potatoes and tofu dinner.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Firm tofu. Depending on the variety you buy, you may have to press it before cubing.
- Tamari. Use soy sauce if not avoiding gluten, or coconut aminos for a soy-free version.
- Balsamic vinegar. The perfect way to add a summery, tangy flavour!
- Maple syrup or agave nectar.
- Dried basil.
- Spaghetti. Simply use gluten-free spaghetti (or other pasta of your choice) if you want to make this meal gluten-free.
- Tahini. I tried this with peanut butter too and it's likewise delicious, just not as tangy.
- Soy yoghurt, or any other unsweetened vegan yoghurt of your choice.
- Lemon juice. Use freshly-squeezed for best results!
- Garlic granules.
- Plant based milk of your choice. Adjust how much you use depending on how thick you want the sauce to be.
- The vegetables: red onion, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and green bell peppers. Feel free to leave these out, or add any other vegetables of your choice.
- Pitted green olives. The best addition for an incredible pasta salad!
Step-by-step to this vegan pasta salad
STEP 1: Prepare the tofu. Add the tofu, tamari, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, dried basil and paprika to a mixing bowl. Stir together, and set aside to marinade for at least 30 minutes.
STEP 2: Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to packaging instructions.
STEP 3: Prepare the sauce by whisking together the tahini, soy yoghurt, lemon juice, garlic granules and plant based milk.
STEP 4: Add the spaghetti to the sauce together with the red onion, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, spinach and olives. Toss together really well, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
STEP 5: Add the tofu on top of the salad and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 10-15 minutes before serving.
Tips to take this spaghetti salad to the next level
- Cold pasta salads often taste better after left overnight in the fridge in an airtight container. It stays good in the fridge for up to 3 days in total.
- Don't skip out on marinading the tofu! The longer, the better, but at least 30 minutes is a great start.
- Make sure you don't overcook the spaghetti. It's best to leave it slightly al dente to avoid a soggy pasta salad.
- For a spicier salad, add a few drops of hot sauce.
Other vegan pasta dishes
- Nut-free vegan creamy pasta with butter beans
- Vegan kidney bean one pot pasta
- Vegetable and mushroom pasta
- Creamy tofu pasta
- One-pot chickpea pasta
Let me know in the comments: what's your favourite way to serve spaghetti? If you give this cold spaghetti salad with balsamic tofu a go, be sure to tag me on Instagram (@earthofmariaa) so I can see your creations, and leave your feedback in the comments below!
- ½ cup tahini
- ¼ cup soy yoghurt
- juice of 1 lemon plus more if too thick
- 1 tsp garlic granules
- ¼ cup plant milk
Other salad ingredients
- 14 oz gluten-free spaghetti
- 1 medium red onion chopped
- 10 cherry tomatoes halved
- ½ large cucumber diced
- 1 large green bell pepper diced
- 2 cups spinach chopped
- 10 pitted green olives halved
- Himalayan pink salt to taste
- Prepare the tofu. Add the tofu, tamari, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, dried basil and paprika to a mixing bowl. Stir together, and set aside to marinade for at least 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to packaging instructions.
- Prepare the sauce by whisking together the tahini, soy yoghurt, lemon juice, garlic granules and plant based milk.
- Add the spaghetti to the sauce together with the red onion, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, spinach and olives. Toss together really well, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the tofu on top of the salad and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 10-15 minutes before serving.