I love cooking with lentil noodles. They are a great source of fiber and usually pack a nice punch of protein.
You can use pasta made from red lentils, green lentils, or even yellow lentils. Whatever type of pasta you have on hand will work for this easy recipe.
This is a great base recipe to build off of.
While I absolutely love making this Southwest Lentil Pasta Salad according to these instructions and using these ingredients, sometimes I like to mix it up and add other things we have in the refrigerator or on the counter that may end up going bad soon.
Why you'll love this recipe
- This healthy pasta salad is ready in 20 minutes.
- Easy to double or triple to feed a crowd.
- Uses fresh veggies and is protein packed dish with the best flavors.
- Using gluten-free red lentil pasta (or any lentil pasta) will still give you the texture of traditional pasta without using regular wheat pasta.
- It's a great recipe to use as a side dish at a party, but it's also so filling and hearty, it can be used as a main dish.
Ingredients you'll need
For the vegan southwest ranch dressing
To keep the dressing oil-free, I used silken tofu as a base.
To make the dressing, you'll need:
- Mori-Nu Silken Tofu
- Plant-Based Milk
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Lemon Juice
- Dijon Mustard
- Nutritional Yeast
- Chili Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Dried Parsley
- Dried Dill Weed
- Dried Oregano
- Black Pepper
For the pasta salad
I chose to use a lentil pasta for this dish for an extra protein boost and because I really happen to like its texture and ability to hold up to sauces and dressings.
Aside from the pasta, you'll also need:
- Canned Black Beans
- Corn (Sweet or Fire-Roasted)
- Grape Tomatoes
- Diced Red Bell Pepper
- Diced Green Bell Pepper
- Diced Jalapeno
- Fresh Chopped Cilantro
Equipment you'll need
To make the dressing, you'll need a food processor.
How to make this lentil pasta salad
First, cook the pasta according to package directions.
While the pasta is cooking, add all of the dressing ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and process on high until well-combined and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
When the pasta is done, drain and rinse it in a colander with cold water.
Add the cooked and cooled pasta to a mixing bowl.
Then, add the black beans, corn, diced red and green bell peppers, and diced jalapeno and stir to combine.
Add the dressing and cilantro and stir to combine. Season with more salt to taste.
Garnish with additional cilantro, if desired.
Substitutions and variations
- Lentil Pasta - If you don't have lentil pasta on hand or prefer to use a different gluten-free pasta, I recommend chickpea pasta or brown rice pasta as a replacement.
- Red and Green Bell Peppers - If you'd like, you can use all one color such as only green pepper or only red pepper, or you can use any combination of bell peppers, such as yellow bell pepper and orange peppers.
- Grape Tomatoes - Feel free to use cherry tomatoes in place of the grape tomatoes if you'd like.
- Cilantro - Don't like it? Leave it out. You can omit it entirely or replace with fresh chopped parsley, if preferred.
- Jalapenos- If you don't like the heat that jalapenos bring, you can omit them from this recipe.
- Additional Ingredients - Try adding some vegan pepperjack-style cheese, regular cucumbers, kalamata olives, or chopped avocado for some flavor variations.
- Other Garnishes- You can use whatever garnishes you like, I enjoy fresh basil or other fresh herbs and some vegan feta cheese on top.
- If you are not serving the pasta salad right away, reserve ¼ cup of the dressing and mix it in right before serving.
- Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If you find that the pasta salad is drying out, you can mix in a splash of unsweetened plant-based milk before serving leftovers.
- For best results, cook your lentil pasta al dente. It will hold up longer when mixed with the homemade dressing.
Frequently asked questions
Using lentil pasta can be healthier than using regular pasta. Some lentil pastas have less calories than regular pasta and most are more nutrient-dense and protein-packed.
You can make a double batch of this Southwest lentil pasta salad for sure. It's great to use this way for meal prep or for feeding a large number of people.
Any leftover lentil salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
As noted in the tips, you may want to wait to add in all the dressing to the lentil salad if you plan on storing the salad immediately instead of serving it. Eventually, over time the dressing will start to break down the lentil pasta and everything will become soggy and start to change its texture.
If you have extra dressing, I recommend storing it in a glass jar in the refrigerator also.
Ideas for serving
It's also great with your favorite veggie burger.
More vegan salads
Southwest Lentil Pasta Salad
FOR THE DRESSING
- 12 oz package soft Mori-Nu silken tofu, excess water drained
- 2 tablespoon unsweetened plant-based milk
- 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, divided
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon agave syrup
- 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¾ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon dried parsley
- ¼ teaspoon dried dill weed
- ⅛ teaspoon oregano
- ⅛ teaspoon paprika
- pinch of black pepper
FOR THE PASTA SALAD
- 8 oz lentil pasta of choice
- 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup corn, sweet or fire-roasted (if canned, drain and rinse; if frozen, cook, drain and cool to room temperature; if on the cobb, cook and cool to room temperature and then cut off the cobb)
- ½ cup diced red bell pepper
- ½ cup diced green bell pepper
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
- ¾ cup grape tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
- 2 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro plus more for garnish, if desired
FOR THE DRESSING
- Add all of the dressing ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and process on high until well-combined and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
FOR THE PASTA SALAD
- Cook the pasta according to package directions. Be sure not to overcook or it will become too mushy. Drain and rinse with cold water. Allow to stand for 1-2 minutes. Add cooked pasta to a mixing bowl.
- Add the black beans, corn, peppers, and jalapeno to the pasta and stir to combine.
- Add the dressing and cilantro and stir to combine. Season with additional salt to taste, if desired. Garnish with additional cilantro, if desired.
(Please refer to the post above for instructional photographs and other helpful information for this recipe)
This post originally appeared on Watch Learn Eat on April 4, 2016. It has been republished to reflect content, recipe, and photo revisions.
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