Thursday, June 17, 2021
Home Healthy food Recipe Vegetarian Pasta Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Vegetarian Pasta Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

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Fresh summer veggies are tossed with chilled pasta and a tangy lemon vinaigrette in this simple but satisfying pasta salad! This recipe comes together in under 30 minutes and is great for sharing or as a main dish.

Overhead view of large glass bowl filled with pasta salad

Recipe features

  • Cold pasta salad with colorful summer veggies and a tangy lemon vinaigrette
  • Ready in just 30 minutes
  • Light, refreshing and easy to customize
  • No mayo or French dressing!
  • Can easily be made in advance

If you like my pasta salad in a jar then you’ll love this recipe!

What you’ll need

Labeled ingredients used to make pasta salad
  • Rotini pasta or your favorite pasta shape. You can use protein pasta for extra protein, whole wheat pasta or gluten-free pasta to make this recipe gluten-free.
  • Mozzarella pearls add a caprese feel with the basil and sliced cherry tomatoes.
  • Chickpeas are my vegetarian protein of choice. White beans would also be a good option.
  • Veggies: cucumber, orange bell pepper and sliced cherry tomatoes add a pop of color, texture and flavor. Red or yellow bell pepper also works, as do grape tomatoes in place of cherry tomatoes.
Labeled ingredients used to make lemon vinaigrette
  • Lemon vinaigrette: I recommend using a “nice” olive oil that you enjoy the flavor of because it is a strong flavor component of this recipe. This vinaigrette is similar to the one I use on my lentil salad recipe.

Step by step instructions

Boil the pasta in well-salted water. There are a few ways you can cool the pasta for the salad:

  • Gently rinse until cold water until chilled
  • Fill a large bowl with ice. Place pasta in a large bowl and set that bowl on the ice. This will work more quickly than refrigerating the pasta
  • Make the pasta 1-2 hours in advance and let chill in the fridge

Make sure to toss the pasta with 2 tablespoons olive oil before chilling (this needs to be done for every method).

Vinaigrette being whisked together in a small glass measuring cup

Make the vinaigrette by combining the shallots, lemon juice, lemon zest, white wine vinegar, olive oil, basil and salt. I like to make this before prepping the veggies so that the shallots can tenderize.

Prep the veggies and add to the chilled pasta.

Vinagirette being poured out of glass measuring cup onto chickpeas and orange peppers

Toss the vinaigrette and pasta salad ingredients together. Top with freshly ground black pepper, red pepper flakes and remaining basil. Enjoy chilled.

Expert tips and FAQ

  • Sweetness: This is a tangy dressing. Start with one teaspoon agave syrup (or honey) and increase to taste.
  • Pasta cooking tips: Cook the pasta to al dente. It should be cooked through but still have a bit of bite. Make sure to cook in well salted water so that the pasta itself is salted.
Can I make this in advance?

You can make the salad 24 hours in advance. You can also make the pasta in advance and prep the remaining ingredients the next day.

Should I make this salad the day before?

Making this a day in advance will help the flavors meld together but it’s not necessary. I usually make pasta salads the day of for the most crisp veggies and to avoid any chance of sogginess.

How long does this keep?

For best quality keep covered and refrigerated for 3-4 days. Enjoy cold.

How do you keep the pasta from sticking to itself?

Before chilling in the fridge, toss the pasta with 2 tablespoons of olive oil to prevent it from sticking. If you’re chilling the pasta under cold running water you can toss it with olive oil once its chilled.

Close up of white bowl filled with rotini, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and mozzarella pearls

Looking for more summer salads?

If you’re looking for a creamy option you might like this vegan ranch pasta salad.

Did you make this recipe? You can leave a star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ in the recipe card or a review down in the comment section. I always appreciate your feedback! You can also follow along on my YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest or sign up for my newsletter!

Overhead view of large glass bowl filled with pasta salad

Print Recipe

Vegetarian Pasta Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Chilled pasta, bright summer veggies and a tangy lemon vinaigrette come together in this refreshing pasta salad.

Prep Time20 mins

Chill Time (Optional)1 hr

Servings: 6 servings

Author: Cassidy Reeser, RDN, LDN

Instructions

  • Cook pasta to al dente, according to package instructions, in well salted water. Drain and rinse until cold running water until chilled. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil. You can also refrigerate the pasta for 1-2 hours to chill it (make sure to toss with olive oil first).

  • Meanwhile, prepare the vinaigrette. Combine the shallot, lemon juice, ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup fresh basil, white wine vinegar, honey, coarse salt and lemon zest in a small mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Let sit for at least 15 minute while you prepare the veggies.

  • Prepare the cucumber, bell pepper and tomatoes. Toss with the chilled pasta, mozzarella pearls and the vinaigrette.

  • Toss with the remaining ¼ cup fresh basil. Serve topped with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and a crack of freshly ground black pepper.

Notes

  1. Rotini pasta is my go-to but any medium pasta shape works. You can use protein pasta, whole wheat pasta or gluten-free pasta.
  2. Make in advance: You can make the salad 24 hours in advance. You can also make the pasta in advance and prep the remaining ingredients the next day.
  3. Leftovers: For best quality keep covered and refrigerated for 3-4 days. Enjoy cold.

Calories: 596kcalCarbohydrates: 70gProtein: 23gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 350mgPotassium: 586mgFiber: 8gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 1134IUVitamin C: 41mgCalcium: 254mgIron: 4mg



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