The classic pasta salad is one of the easiest meals to rustle up for lunch. For vegans or vegetarians, it can be an easy way to bulk out salad ingredients and make it more filling. And while it’s true that white pasta gets a bad rap for delivering empty calories, switching to wholegrain gives you 300% more stomach-filling fibre. By choosing wholegrain pasta, you’ll feel fuller for longer and keep glucose levels balanced, preventing the highs and lows that often come with eating simple carbs.
So pasta salad is actually a very healthy choice when you opt for wholegrains instead. It’s also incredibly easy to prepare and makes an affordable alternative to grabbing lunch out. But how can you keep a vegan pasta salad dish appealing day in, day out, when you’re already quite limited with ingredients? Here we have some pasta salad ideas with an international twist to keep things exciting. They’re all delicious, easy to make and vegan friendly...
Pasta salad Californian style
Not only is California one of the best destinations in the world for health foods, vegan and vegetarian dining and the sustainable food movement, but it’s also a haven for wine lovers. Responsible for 80% of the USA’s wine production and home to multiple Michelin star restaurants, Cali is a foodie heaven. This Californian style vegan pasta salad pays homage to the Golden State and its sun-drenched ingredients. If you’re a foodie and want to make your lunches a little more exciting, this is a great recipe to try.
The classic Californian pasta salad takes its inspiration from Italy (of course) and is usually made with parmesan cheese. To make it vegan, simply skip the cheese or use a dairy-free cheese alternative.
- Rotini pasta (80-90g dried)
- ½ cup chopped cucumber
- ½ cup chopped cherry tomatoes
- 1 chopped green pepper
- ¼ cup diced red onion
- ¼ cup black olives
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tsp tarragon (dried)
- 1 tsp marjoram (dried)
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
Cook the pasta according to instructions on the packet and drain. Combine all the chopped vegetables and pasta together in a bowl. Whisk together all the ingredients for the Italian herb dressing and pour over the salad. Grate over a vegan-friendly cheese alternative if desired.
Pasta salad with a Greek twist
If there’s one thing we love about Greece, it’s tzatziki. A yoghurt-based sauce that adds a refreshing taste to any salad dish. You can instantly transform a lacklustre plate of veggies into something exciting with a dollop of this stuff, and you there are even vegan versions available now. Coconut cream yoghurts are a popular dairy-free alternative, but to make a nice savoury tzatziki, something like cashew yoghurt works best.
You can buy cashew-based yoghurts from health shops or specialist supermarkets, or you can quickly make your own at home - it’s really easy! The result is super creamy vegan pasta salad, with the coolness of cucumber and the refreshing taste of dill or mint.
- Bow tie pasta (80-90g dried)
- ½ cup black olives
- ½ cup sun dried tomatoes
- ½ artichoke hearts (chopped)
- 1 cup raw cashews (soaked)
- 2 tbsp almond milk
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lemon (juiced)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- ½ cucumber (chopped)
- Fresh dill or fresh mint
Soak cashews overnight (or at least 4 hours). When they are soft, they are ready to be drained and placed in the food processor. Add in almond milk, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cucumber, dill or mint - and blend together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Then cook and drain your pasta according to instructions. Mix in the olives, sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts, before putting your tzatziki sauce on top. Toss before serving and garnish with some fresh dill or mint.
Pasta salad the Mexican way
A great option for summer or winter, a Mexican style pasta salad is tasty, filling and loaded with protein. If you’re a fan of Latin and South American flavours, this lunchtime pasta dish is for you. Loaded with healthy avocado, it’s creamy and delicious while also being a great source of good fats. And topped with a vegan chipotle lime dressing, you’ll be transported to Mexico City or the coastline of Cancun in a few bites.
- Fusilli pasta (80-90g dried)
- 2 cups frozen sweetcorn
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes (halved)
- ½ cup black beans (drained and rinsed)
- ½ cup chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
- ¼ cup red onion (finely chopped)
- ¼ cup coriander (chopped)
- 1 green pepper (finely chopped minced)
- 1 avocado (diced)
- ½ jalapeno (minced)
- ¾ cup thick vegan yoghurt
- ½ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
- ¼ cup avocado oil (or another neutral flavoured oil
- 3 tbsp adobo sauce (available in most supermarkets)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp oregano
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 garlic clove (grated)
Cook and drain the pasta and set aside. Put all the chipotle dressing ingredients into a mason jar or airtight jar and shake vigorously to mix. Place the drained pasta, sweetcorn, cherry tomatoes, black beans, chickpeas, onion, coriander, avocado, green pepper and jalapeno into a bowl and mix together. Pour on the chipotle dressing to serve.
Tabbouleh vegan pasta salad
If you love Lebanese food then you will love this exotic twist on your lunchbox pasta. A tabbouleh pasta salad combines the delicious flavours of finely chopped parsley, tomatoes, mint and fresh onion with pasta instead of bulgar wheat. However, feel free to add some bulgar wheat if you want an extra texture and an added boost of fibre. Bulgar wheat is super healthy, can promote weight loss, and is great for digestion and gut health, making it an ideal alternative to other grains.
- Fusilli pasta (80-90g dried)
- 1 tomato (finely chopped)
- ¼ red onion (finely chopped)
- ½ cup cucumber (finely chopped)
- Handful of fresh parsley (finely chopped)
- A few mint leaves (finely chopped)
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the pasta according to instructions, then drain. Add all the chopped ingredients (tomatoes, onions, parsley, mint and cucumber) to a bowl. Add the pasta and toss well. Then add the lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. Toss well. Chill the pasta salad for at least an hour to allow flavours to infuse. Before serving, taste and season with more lemon, salt and pepper or a pinch of cayenne pepper. You can also add a clove of minced garlic if you prefer a stronger taste.