BBQ Part 2: Creamy Pasta Salad

Hey there! I'm back with Part II of what I cooked for my vegan BBQ.

I find dishes like these perfect for when you're having a hungry day and really want to silence that growling stomach. It's also super satisfying after some kind of physical exertion – last time I had it was when I came back from losing a football match, which seems to be a weekly event. Nothing as comforting as carbs, huh?

I can honestly say this pasta is astonishingly creamy given that it is totally vegan. To get this texture I've used a combination of cashews, olive oil and silken tofu. That is a fairly common vegan trick to make a caesar-type dressing, but I felt it needed to taste more like a nice coleslaw or remoulade, so I've added vegan mayo and dijon mustard. I am really enjoying tangy flavoured foods at the moment, especially the flavour from a lemon's zest, so the dressing here has some real zing to it. Decrease the lemon juice if this isn't your cup of tea.

Oh yeah - do play around with the recipe to suit yourself; substitute wholewheat or spelt pasta for a healthier carb-load or use up any leftover raw vegetables instead of the carrots and tomatoes.

I like sprinkling nutritional yeast over the top as a garnish. I know that sounds more like doctor's orders and not appealing in the slightest, but nutritional yeast is actually one of my favourite ingredients at the moment. It is a strain of yeast, just like the yeast used for baking bread, except that it has been deactivated using heat and dried into flakes. It has a really amazing cheesy flavour and makes an excellent Parmesan substitute. Make sure you check it out!

Creamy pasta salad

Creamy pasta salad

Yield:
Serves 6
Hands-on time:
30 mins
Hands-off time:
10 mins

Ingredients:

  for the dressing
200g/7oz silken tofu, drained
¼ cup/65ml extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup cashews, preferably soaked in water for 3 or more hours
1 garlic clove, crushed or finely chopped
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp vegan mayonnaise
tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp chopped basil leaves (approx. 20 medium leaves)
½ of a medium lemon's juice and zest
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp ground pepper
 
  for the pasta & salad:
500g macaroni pasta noodles
1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 red or yellow bell peppers (capsicums), thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, chopped
10 cherry tomatoes, chopped
½ red onion, thinly sliced
½ cucumber, diced
4 spring (green) onions, thinly sliced
 

Process:

  1. To make the dressing, put all of the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth and creamy. Add some water if the dressing is too thick.
  2. Boil a large pot of water and add 1 tsp of salt.
  3. Add the pasta when the water is at a rolling boil and simmer until the pasta is al dente.
  4. Drain the pasta in a colander. Refresh (rinse with cold running water) the pasta until it is room temperature and not at all hot to touch.
  5. Now in a large serving bowl combine the pasta, half of the dressing and all the raw vegetables. Toss gently.
  6. Season with freshly ground black pepper and add more dressing if you think it needs it. Now serve or box up and refrigerate if cooking in advance.