Vegan Tuscan-Inspired Pasta Salad

Vegan Tuscan-Inspired Pasta Salad

This Tuscan-inspired pasta salad is summer’s best bud.

It’s packed with cannellini beans, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, red onion, black olives, vegan parmesan, and baby spinach. I’ve used bowtie/farfalle pasta, but you can use any short pasta that has nooks and crannies for the dressing and other ingredients to stick to. Think fusilli, rotini, penne. I also really recommend using fresh basil here because the flavor is unbeatable.

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You’ll need:

For the pasta salad:

  • Cooked pasta
  • Cannellini beans
  • Red onion
  • Sun-dried tomatoes or sliced cherry tomatoes
  • Baby spinach
  • Black olives
  • Vegan parmesan
  • Fresh basil

For the dressing:

  • Olive oil
  • White wine vinegar
  • Water
  • Dijon mustard
  • Agave or maple syrup
  • Garlic – fresh or dried minced
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • Pepper

To make it:

Cook and drain your pasta, then toss with a bit of oil to prevent sticking. Set aside and allow to cool down a bit.

Combine all pasta salad ingredients in a large bowl.

For the dressing, pour all ingredients into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and give it a good shake. Pour over top of the salad and toss to combine. Let sit in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. I find it’s even better the next day 😉

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Serving suggestions:

Occasions I like to make pasta salad for include: picnics, backyard BBQs, family get-togethers, and potlucks. More often than not, though, I’ll just make a big batch during the week so I have something to snack on or use as a side dish for days.

Here are some mains to try out alongside this tuscan pasta salad:

Vegan Jalapeño Burgers

Buffalo Cauliflower & Ranch Coleslaw Pretzel Hoagies

Buffalo Chickpea Pizzas

No Mayo Chickpea Salad

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Vegan Tuscan Pasta Salad

Vegan Tuscan-Inspired Pasta Salad

Hannah
This Tuscan-inspired pasta salad is summer’s best bud. It’s packed with cannellini beans, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, red onion, black olives, vegan parmesan, and baby spinach.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 10 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 10 oz farfalle pasta
  • 1 (15oz) can cannellini beans drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 large red onion thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup julienne-cut sun dried tomatoes, in oil oil drained*
  • 1-2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 (6oz) can sliced black olives
  • 1/2 cup vegan parmesan shreds or feta
  • 1/4 cup tightly packed fresh basil chopped

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar*
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp agave or maple syrup
  • 3 cloves minced garlic or dried garlic granules
  • 2 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 tsp kosher salt to taste
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • In salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain, toss with a little bit of olive oil to prevent sticking, set aside, and allow to cool.
  • Add all dressing ingredients to a jar with a lid, and shake to combine.
  • Toss all ingredients and the dressing in a large bowl.
  • Let sit in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.

Notes

*2 cups of sliced cherry tomatoes can be subbed for the sun-dried tomatoes
*Red wine vinegar or lemon juice can be used as a substitute for the white wine vinegar
Keyword bisque, pasta salad, tuscan pasta, tuscan pasta salad, vegan pasta salad, vegan tuscan pasta, vegan tuscan pasta salad

Garlic Scallion Noodles

These noodles come together in 15 minutes and are so easy. Feel free to add in extra veggies and/or protein of choice – some crispy tofu would be perfect.

I don’t know about you, but I definitely have wasted my fair share of green onions simply because I didn’t feel like prepping them. Now I try to make sure to wash and chop them all the same day or the day after purchase, then I put them in a reusable silicone bag in the freezer. That way I have green onions chopped and ready whenever I need them. Make sure you save the bulbs because you can replant them and have free onions!

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Ingredients:

  • 6oz spaghetti or ramen noodles, cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 scallions/green onions, chopped (sauté white parts and reserve green for serving)
  • 1.5 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2-3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce, to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste
  • Sesame seeds
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Instructions:

  1. Heat sesame oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Sauté onions and garlic for 1-2 minutes, then add the rice vinegar to loosen the brown bits up.
  2. Add the noodles to the pan. Mix together soy sauce (start with 2 tbsp) and sugar. Pour mixture over the noodles and stir to incorporate. Taste and add more soy sauce if needed.
  3. Serve topped with reserved green onions, crushed red pepper, and sesame seeds.

Notes:

Feel free to add in extra veggies and/or protein of choice! Some crispy tofu would be perfect.


Lemony Garlic And White Wine Spaghetti

Words I love to see in a recipe: garlic, lemon, butter, wine, pasta.

Make this vegan lemony garlic and white wine spaghetti in the time it takes to boil some noods and have a glass of wine. Seriously, it takes 15 minutes. You’ll need lots of garlic, a lemon, crushed red pepper, vegan butter, white wine, vegan parmesan, herbs, and some noodles (don’t pour out the pasta water).

If you like lemon and garlic, this one’s for you. If you’re not a mega fan like me, then feel free to scale back on the amount of lemon juice and cloves of garlic.

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What you’ll need:

  • Spaghetti noodles
  • Vegan butter
  • Lots of garlic
  • Crushed red pepper
  • A lemon
  • White wine
  • Vegan parmesan
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Fresh herbs like thyme or parsley
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Cooking tips for this recipe:

  • Prepare ingredients in advance. This pasta comes together very quickly, so I find it easiest to have everything ready before I start.
  • Make sure to salt your pasta water! It adds so much more flavor to the noodles.
  • Cook your pasta al dente. You’ll be adding the noodles to the sauce while it’s still hot, so you don’t want it to overcook.

Serving ideas:

  • Prepare a simple green salad with seasonal veggies and a lemony dressing.
  • Pour a glass of wine and call it a day!

Other pasta recipes to try:

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Lemony Garlic And White Wine Spaghetti

Hannah
Words I love to see in a recipe: garlic, lemon, butter, wine, pasta. Make this vegan lemony garlic and white wine spaghetti in the time it takes to boil some noodles and have a glass of wine. 
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 8 oz thick or regular spaghetti reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water
  • 4 tbsp vegan butter
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper scale back to 1/4 tsp or omit if you're sensitive to spice
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested about 1/4 cup
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup grated vegan parmesan plus more for serving
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • fresh herbs like thyme or parsley for serving

Instructions
 

  • Cook pasta according to package instructions and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
  • Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat.
  • Add garlic and crushed red pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes until fragrant.
  • Pour in lemon juice and white wine. Turn the heat up to medium high and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.
  • Remove from heat and add in cooked pasta, lemon zest, and parmesan. Toss to coat, gradually adding a bit of the pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce (you likely won’t need the full 1/2 cup).
  • Give it a try and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Serve with extra parmesan and fresh herbs. Enjoy!

Notes

Vegetable broth can be used in place of the white wine, if desired.
Keyword easy, lemon garlic spaghetti, pasta, vegan pasta


Vegan Mac & Beer Cheese Bites

It’s almost finger food and funny commercial day! Also I hear there are sports involved. Whether you’re here for the snacks or the football, you’ve gotta make some fun food! Personally, I think no Super Bowl is complete with two things: cheese and beer. Thus, vegan mac & beer cheese bites! These bites definitely make enough to serve a crowd, or for you to have leftovers all to yourself (what I’ll be doing on account of covid).

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Makes about 48 bites. Spread out to two mini muffin tins or bake a second batch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 oz) box cooked elbow pasta, minus 1 cup
  • 1 cup soaked cashews
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 cloves garlic or 1 teaspoon powder
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup beer (lager)
  • Grated vegan cheddar cheese

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. Add all ingredients except for beer to a blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Pour the cheese sauce into a saucepan with the beer, and heat over medium-low until thick and bubbly (5-10 minutes). Taste and season with more salt if needed. Stir the pasta noodles into the sauce.
  4. Lightly oil a mini muffin tin and spoon the mac and cheese into each hole. Pack the mac and cheese down tightly with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle some grated vegan cheddar cheese over the tops. Don’t skip this step because the cheddar shreds help keep the tops of the “muffins” together.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove and let cool for 10 minutes before gently removing each bite with a butter knife or the handle of a spoon. Repeat until all the mac and cheese is gone and you’re left with lots of mac and cheese bites.
  6. Serve alone or with a sauce like marinara or ketchup, and enjoy!


Vegan Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Okay, hear me out! This doesn’t taste like pumpkin or pumpkin pie – just cheesy deliciousness. Pumpkin purée makes this vegan mac and cheese SO creamy, plus it’s just 9 ingredients and ready in only 15 minutes.

And PLEASE, for the love of GOD! Use pure pumpkin purée and NOT pumpkin pie mix!

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Yes, I did put in on a burger with pickled jalapeños. I post things like this on my Instagram (@plantsinmypants) at least 3 times a week!

Prep time: 4 minutes | Cook time: 11 minutes | Serves: about 4

Ingredients:

  • 16oz cooked pasta of choice
  • 1 cup raw cashews, softened if needed*
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper (or black), optional
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Instructions:

  1. Blend sauce ingredients (cashews through garlic).
  2. Stir sauce into cooked pasta, along with 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper if using.
  3. Serve immediately.

Notes:

*if not using a high-powered blender: soften cashews by soaking in water overnight or by placing in hot water for 15 minutes prior to use


Vegan Penne alla Vodka

Penne alla Vodka was one of the first recipes I ever made in my first apartment, around 5 years ago. Mind you, I wasn’t vegan at the time so I didn’t know about the wonders of cashew cream. But now I do and here we are.

This dish is simple, creamy, hearty, and delicious – what more could you want?

So why vodka?

“Along with the penne pasta, this dish generally contains cream sauce mixed with marinara sauce or tomato paste, which are a combination unusual in Italian cooking because the acidity of the tomatoes tends to make the oil in the cream separate. The ethanol (vodka) serves as an emulsifier, allowing the water and lipids to remain mixed together.”

“Ethanol is also thought to solvate certain flavors from the tomato that would otherwise be inaccessible in water. This is seen in other vodka sauces, as well.”

Pretty neat! Read more about the origins of the dish here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penne_alla_vodka

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Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 35 minutes Serves about 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight*
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 1/2 a large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • A generous pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1 (28 oz) can of crushed or petite diced tomatoes (sometimes I’ll do a 15 oz can of each for a more interesting texture)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Penne, cooked according to box instructions
  • Fresh parsley or basil for serving (optional)
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Instructions:

  1. Add the cashews to a blender along with the nutritional yeast and water, and blend until very smooth.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté onion in butter for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and sauté another 2 minutes until the onions are soft and slightly browned, and the mixture is very fragrant.
  3. Pour in the vodka and let cook for about 5 minutes, until the alcohol has cooked off.
  4. Add the tomatoes, stir, and let the mixture simmer for 10-15 minutes until thickened – you may need to lower the heat some.
  5. Stir in the cashew cream and cook for about 10 more minutes, until the sauce is thick and creamy.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste (I usually end up not needing any), and mix well.
  7. Serve over penne cooked according to box instructions, top with parsley or basil, and enjoy!

Notes:

*If using a high powered blender, you don’t need to pre-soak your cashews to soften them. If you’re short on time, you can immerse the cashews in boiling hot water for 15 minutes (don’t keep the water boiling, just make sure it’s very hot when you put the cashews in, and then let them sit)


Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Fusilli

Oh man… Have I mentioned my love for sun-dried tomatoes before? Yes? Well I’m gonna say it again – that intense, sweet-tart flavor is everything!

Some lovely sun-dried tomatoes along with sautéed onions and garlic, white wine, baby spinach, and a cashew cream sauce make this vegan pasta dish so creamy and flavorful!

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The fusilli pasta really grabs as much of the sauce as possible – it’s awesome.

Cook up this dish and be amazed as your multiple cups of spinach are reduced to what seems like a tablespoon. We’ve all been there, am I right?

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Caution: be sure to cook enough for all parties present because your house will be smelling heavenly. Thank you onion, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes.

Anyways, let’s get to it:

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Prep time: 10 minutes – Cook time: 15 minutes – Serves: About 4 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight or use this quick boil method*
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water (if using water, you may want to add a bit more salt)
  • 1 tbsp of oil from the sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 of one medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3 – 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup julienne-cut sun-dried tomatoes in oil, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup white wine (I used a vegan pinot grigio)
  • 3 – 4 cups of baby spinach, optional
  • salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • pasta water to thicken if needed
  • 16 oz fusilli pasta, cooked (you could also use bowties, penne, fettuccine, you name it)
  • vegan parmesan for topping (optional)
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Instructions:

  1. Begin boiling the water for the fusilli pasta and cook according to package directions.
  2. Make the cashew cream by blending cashews, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and vegetable broth until very smooth.
  3. Heat oil over medium heat in a large pan and sauté the onion with a pinch of salt. Cook until tender and translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute.
  5. Then, toss in the sun-dried tomatoes and cook for about 2 minutes.
  6. Pour in the wine and simmer for a few more minutes until the wine has reduced by half. Add spinach, if using, and cook until wilted.
  7. Stir in the cashew cream and a few cracks of fresh ground black pepper until combined. Cook to thicken. If it gets too thick, stir in small amounts of the pasta water until desired consistency is reached. Add in the pasta noodles and stir again to coat.
  8. Top with vegan parmesan if you’d like, serve, and enjoy!

*Quick-boiling cashews: If you’re not someone who plans out far enough ahead to soak cashews overnight, you can add the cashews to a small sauce pan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Once it starts boiling, remove from the heat immediately, cover with a lid, and let sit for 10 minutes to soften.