I don’t know what it is about a simple pasta salad that makes people so happy, but it never seems to fail. A good pasta salad anchors a picnic, a potluck, a buffet. It’s portable, it’s flexible, and (this is going to sound terrible), kids can pick out the pasta and whatever vegetables they like and leave the rest behind. I know, I know – we are not encouraging this. But we are addressing it as a reality.
Vegan Pasta Salad
This isn’t just a vegetarian pasta salad, it’s also a vegan pasta salad. So a good back pocket thing to keep in mind for potlucks, or whenever you know there will be the need for a vegan offering. Add some fresh herbs in here if you like – slivered basil, oregano, thyme – all would be good.
Make Ahead Pasta Salad
It will hold at room temperature for a few hours before serving. Double this is you’re going for volume; it’s the perfect pasta salad for a crowd. If you are going to make this ahead of time (and go ahead – up to 2 days), leave the tomatoes out of the salad until you toss right before serving. In a perfect world tomatoes never see the inside of a refrigerator, and since you’ll have to refrigerate the salad to keep it (duh), tossing in the tomatoes at the very end will keep them from getting mealy.
Also, try not to serve this straight from the fridge – let it be at room temperature for at least 20 minutes to take the chill out before serving. If you refrigerated it, it might need an extra drizzle of olive oil, and a toss, to get it nice and glisteny again, since the pasta will have absorbed the dressing a bit.
Wondering what that festive looking dish is on the lower right of the photo? Brussels Sprouts, Apple, and Pomegranate Slaw Salad. And that preppy-pretty pasta salad with salmon on top? That’s Pasta Salad with Salmon and Creamy Cilantro Dressing.
A pretty little trio, no? This was what I made when I had some friends over, and didn’t want, under any circumstances, to be futzing around in the kitchen while they were drinking wine and talking.
Simple Vegetarian Pasta Salad
- 1 pound dried small shells or other pasta salad-friendly shaped pasta
- 4 cups roughly chopped arugula
- 2 bell peppers red, yellow, or orange, finely diced
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes cut in half, or quarters if larger
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ½ cup chopped shallots
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain again.
- Place the pasta in a bowl with the arugula, peppers, and tomatoes.
- In a small bowl or container combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar red wine vinegar, mustard, shallots, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the pasta salad and toss well to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
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