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This Southwest Lentil Pasta Salad is the perfect side for your vegan barbecue, plant-based potluck or summer soiree. This flavor-packed side dish features gluten-free lentil pasta combined with an oil-free homemade vegan southwest ranch dressing tossed with black beans, veggies and cilantro.
Sorry, I’m still noshing on noodles over here.
Or as my youngest daughter would say…ova hea.
Somehow she ended up with the thickest New Jersey accent in the whole family.
And moving to Florida has not even changed it one bit.
Anyway, back to this deliciousness we have
For the vegan southwest ranch dressing
To keep the dressing oil-free, I used the thick and creamy version of my oil-free vegan mayo as a base.
To make the mayo base, you’ll need:
- Firm or Extra Firm Silken Tofu – I used Mori-Nu extra firm silken tofu.
- Aquafaba (canned chickpea liquid)
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Lemon Juice
- Dijon Mustard
- Agave or Brown Rice Syrup
I also made a vegan “buttermilk” using:
- Unsweetened Plant-Based Milk
- Apple Cider Vinegar
And, I added the following seasonings:
- Nutritional Yeast
- Chili Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Dried Parsley
- Dried Dill Weed
- Black Pepper
For the pasta salad
I chose to use 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.
For the photos featured in this post, I used Modern Table’s spirals, but the Modern Table rotini and penne also work well in this dish.
Of course, you can use any gluten-free lentil pasta brand of your choosing.
Aside from lentil pasta, you’ll also need:
- Canned Black Beans
- Grape Tomatoes
- Diced Red Bell Pepper
- Diced Green Bell Pepper
- Diced Jalapeno
- Fresh Chopped Cilantro
Equipment you’ll need
How to make Southwest lentil pasta salad – step by step
Step 1 – Make the dressing
First, make the vegan “buttermilk” by adding plant-based milk and apple cider vinegar in a mason jar or bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
Then, add nutritional yeast, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, dill, oregano, paprika, salt and black pepper to a small bowl and set aside.
Next, add tofu, aquafaba, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, agave or brown rice syrup and salt to the cup that came with your immersion blender.
If you are using a food processor or standard blender, add the tofu to the bowl or your food processor or to your blender.
Use the immersion blender, food processor or blender to combine the ingredients until creamy.
Add the tofu mixture to the the vegan “buttermilk” and stir to combine.
Then, add the seasonings.
Stir to combine.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Step 2 – Cook the pasta
Cook pasta according to package directions.
When done, drain and rinse with cold water.
Step 3 – Prep the remaining ingredients
While you are waiting for the pasta water to boil and while the pasta is cooking, drain and rinse canned black beans and corn. If using frozen corn, cook according to package directions, drain and bring the corn to room temperature.
Slice tomatoes in half lengthwise and dice bell peppers. Seed and dice jalapeno.
Step 4 – Put the pasta salad together
Add cooked pasta to a mixing bowl.
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
- Red and Green Bell Peppers – If you’d like, you can use any combination of bell peppers, such as yellow and orange.
- Cilantro – Don’t like it? Leave it out. You can omit entirely or replace with fresh chopped parsley, if preferred.
- Additional Ingredients – Try adding some vegan pepperjack-style cheese or chopped avocado for some flavor variations.
Tips for serving and storing
- If you are not serving the pasta salad right away, reserve 1/4 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.
What to eat with this Southwest pasta salad
This pasta salad pairs well with all your favorite vegan barbecue foods such as grilled tofu, grilled portobello mushrooms and grilled tempeh.
It’s also great with your favorite veggie burger.
You might also enjoy:
- Avocado Pasta Salad
- Hummus Pasta Salad
- Vegan Macaroni Salad
- Vegan Dill Potato Salad
- Oil-Free Vegan Ranch Dip & Dressing
- Oil-Free Vegan Blue Cheese
Southwest Lentil Pasta Salad
FOR THE DRESSING
- 1/4 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
- 3 tsp apple cider vinegar, divided
- 8 oz firm or extra firm silken tofu, excess water drained (I used Mori-Nu extra firm silken tofu)
- 2 tbsp aquafaba
- 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 1/4 tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt, divided
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp agave or brown rice syrup
- 1/2 tsp nutritional yeast
- 3/4 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 3/8 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp dried parsley
- 1/4 tsp dried dill weed
- 1/8 tsp oregano
- 1/8 tsp paprika
- pinch of black pepper
FOR THE PASTA SALAD
- 8 oz lentil pasta of choice (I used Modern Table Spirals)
- 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup corn (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)
- 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
- 3/4 cup grape tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro plus more for garnish, if desired
- fine sea salt or kosher salt, to taste
FOR THE DRESSING
- Add plant-based milk and 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar in a mason jar or bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
- Add nutritional yeast, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, dill, oregano, paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper to a small bowl and set aside.
- Add tofu, aquafaba, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, agave or brown rice syrup and 3/4 teaspoon salt to the cup that came with your immersion blender. If you are using a food processor or standard blender, add the tofu to the bowl or your food processor or to your blender. Use the immersion blender, food processor or blender to combine the ingredients until creamy.
- Add the tofu mixture to the the vegan "buttermilk" and stir to combine.
- Stir in the seasonings. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
FOR THE PASTA SALAD
- Cook 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, diced red and green bell peppers and diced 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.
This post originally appeared on Watch Learn Eat on April 4, 2016. It has been republished to reflect both recipe and photo revisions. Changes to the story were also made.
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