02 June 2016

Dilly-Ranch Pasta Salad

The summer temperatures have arrived in Indiana! As I said last summer, summer temps and humidity make me not want to eat anything. Since not eating for an entire season is not a healthy option, it helps to have a collection of cold foods to eat that won't heat up the house. This is especially important when hosting a large gathering of people, as all those extra bodies create enough excess heat.

This semester's minions
I had just this situation occur a few weeks ago. I hosted my semi-annual Minion Dinner, but had an especially large group with 11 minions this semester. I was worried about unpredictable May weather and how to feed 13 people delicious vegan food with one gluten-free minion and one who doesn't like onions. The final decision was a soup/salad/bread buffet (with cake & cookies for dessert). I had all sorts of ideas for soups (I mean, have you seen this blog?!), but while I had a few good ideas for salads, I wanted something new. I mean, what's not to like about making a brand new recipe with 12 taste-testers ready and willing to offer commentary? 

To complement the other dishes already on the menu, I opted for a pasta salad. Pasta salads are great for parties because they are best when made ahead of time, as the resting gives the flavors a change to meld together. This particular pasta salad is also great because it has the creaminess of heavier mayo-based versions but uses silken tofu for a protein-packed punch. Above all, my minions were complimentary of it and I've been dreaming about it since. 

Dilly-Ranch Pasta Salad
This recipe is adapted from the one found here.

4 c. uncooked cavatappi pasta
1 large red bell pepper, moderate dice
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
5-6 green onions, chopped
8 oz. silken tofu
1 T. dried dill
2 T. ranch seasoning (Penzeys Buttermilk Ranch is awesome!)
2 T. agave nectar
2 T. vinegar
2 T. olive oil
1 T. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions, but give it an extra minute or two beyond al dente texture. Rinse well and drain.
2. Combine tofu, dill, ranch, agave, vinegar, oil, Dijon, salt, and pepper in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. You may need to scrape the sides.
3. Combine cooked pasta, veggies, and dressing in a bowl (the pasta does not have to be completely cold).
4. Chill at least 4 hours or over night.

Helpful Hints
  • The reason the pasta should be cooked a bit past al dente is that pasta gets harder as it cools. Watch your pasta carefully though, as cooking it too long will make it mushy. 
  • Many ranch seasoning mixes at the grocery store are not vegan - they often contain milk powder. The Penzeys ranch I linked above is SO good! It's what I use to make my vegan ranch salad dressing
  • You could absolutely add other veggies or use a different shape of pasta - including opting to use a gluten-free pasta. If you do switch up the pasta to a different shape, make sure it's a smallish shape. In other words, no jumbo shells or spaghetti. 
The post "Dilly Ranch Pasta Salad" originally appeared on Maggie's LesVegan Kitchen.

No comments:

Post a Comment