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Quick & Creamy Vegan Ranch Pasta Salad


When I first transitioned to plant-based eating, a friend gave me some good advice. She said, "Do yourself a favor and buy some vegan mayo, Braggs Liquid Aminos, Apple Cider Vinegar, and Nutritional Yeast. You'll use them a lot!"


Well, my friend was most definitely correct, and that was great advice! Although I try not to eat too many processed or high-fat foods, one of my very favorite vegan products is 'Follow Your Heart Original Vegenaise.' It's ingredients are pretty simple, it's got ZERO cholesterol, and I've found that it's one of the best ingredients to use for making creamy dips and dressings.


In my pre-vegan life, my pasta salad consisted of penne with shredded chicken breast, tomatoes, oily artichoke hearts (from a jar), black olives, shredded cheddar and mozzarella, all tossed with a half-bottle of super-sodium-filled-unhealthy oily Italian dressing. If I happened to throw in a few broccoli florets, it was probably because I was feeling guilty about the heart-attack-dish I was about to consume!


As a plant-based, born-again eater, I'm happy to say that this recipe is not only a MUCH healthier option for pasta salad, but using my recipe for Vegan Ranch Dressing, it's WAY tastier too! There are so many yummy veggies in this dish, my husband and I like to prepare it as a quick and easy main entrée for nights when there's no time to cook. Oh, and the leftovers make a delicious, nutrient-dense lunch the next day, too!


Ingredients:

- 1 lb penne pasta (preferably whole grain)

- 1 large juicy, ripe tomato or 3 Roma tomatoes, chopped bite-size

- 2 cups frozen broccoli florets, steamed to fork-tender, then cooled

- 1 1/2 cups frozen sweet peas, steamed to warm, then cooled

- 1 cup frozen cauliflower florets, steamed to fork-tender, then cooled

- 1/2 cup sweet onion, diced


Ingredients for Vegan Ranch Dressing:

- 3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (as mentioned above, I LOVE Follow Your Heart brand)

- 2 Tbsp lemon juice

- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar

- 1 1/2 tsp dried dill

- 1 1/2 tsp onion powder

- 2 Tbsp almond or soy milk to thin while whisking. Be sure to use unsweetened, plain.


Instructions:

  1. Cook the penne pasta per package instructions. Drain and cool (it's ok to rinse the pasta under cold water if you're rushed for time.) Pour pasta into a bowl or pot large enough to accommodate tossing with all the veggies.

  2. Add the remaining ingredients to pasta and toss to mix up. Set aside to prepare your ranch dressing.

Instructions for Dressing:

  1. Add all the 'vegan ranch dressing' ingredients listed above to a bowl or measuring cup. I use a glass, 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup to mix it all.

  2. Using a small whisk, mix up all the ingredients until blended smooth. Whisk in the almond or soy milk as needed to thin to a Ranch-dressing consistency. Be careful not to add too much milk as you want the dressing to cling to the pasta and veggies.

  3. Pour all of the dressing over your pasta and veggies and toss well.

  4. Ladle some good, healthy servings into deep bowls, and dig in!

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