This easy vegan pasta salad recipe is full of healthy ingredients and flavor and comes together in minutes. Cooked pasta is tossed in an Italian vinaigrette with all your favorite veggies!
Pasta salad recipes are great all-year side dishes. However, I love serving salad recipes in the summer months when you want to keep recipes quick and easy.
This is such a great vegan pasta salad recipe because it uses gluten-free pasta to make it perfect for just about anyone.
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- Using rotini pasta is the best for pasta salads because it captures the dressing, delivering delicious flavor in every bite
- Black olives add pops of color and flavor
- Using bite-sized cauliflower and broccoli florets helps the veggies tenderize under the influence of the vinaigrette.
What You Need
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
- Lemon — We’ll use both the zest and the juice of the lemon.
- Oats — I used rolled oats for this recipe, but you can substitute instant oats.
- Chia — We’ll add some ground chia seeds to create a thicker texture. You can use whole chia seeds; I just prefer ground because it creates a smoother finished texture.
- Syrup — I used maple syrup, but you can substitute agave nectar.
- Milk — We’ll use almond milk for the best overnight oats! Substitute your favorite plant-based milk.
- Yogurt — I love adding some plant-based yogurt (plain, unsweetened) for an even more tangy flavor.
- Protein Powder — I add some vanilla protein powder for increased flavor and nutrients. If your protein powder is not sweetened, you may want to add an extra teaspoon or two of sweetener.
- Cornstarch — We’ll use cornstarch to thicken the lemon curd topping.
- Turmeric — A pinch of turmeric makes that lemon curd sunny yellow.
- Pasta — I use gluten-free rotini pasta or you can substitute regular or whole-wheat rotini pasta.
- Fresh broccoli florets — I cut the broccoli into small, bite-size pieces. You can substitute frozen.
- Fresh cauliflower florets — This guide for cutting cauliflower is so helpful in creating cauliflower florets. You can substitute frozen cauliflower florets.
- Onion — Use a yellow onion for a milder flavor.
- Black olives — This is optional but it adds color and flavor.
- Italian dressing — You can use storebought or make your own Italian vinaigrette.
How to Make Pasta Salad
- Cook pasta in boiling water according to package directions.
- Chop the broccoli and cauliflower into bite-size florets. Place them along with chopped onions in a serving dish.
- Use a colander over the sink to drain the pasta cooking water. Then pour hot pasta over broccoli/cauliflower florets and chopped onions. Stir the ingredients together and cover to allow the heat from the pasta to steam the veggies for about 10 minutes.
- Add the black olives and Italian dressing, stirring until well coated. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour before serving.
Store pasta salad in an airtight container. It will keep in the fridge for up to 7 days. It can also be frozen for up to 2 months.
Looking for pasta salad ideas? Consider adding any of these additions:
- Vegan mozzarella cubes
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Chopped vegan chicken pieces
- Tofu feta
- Chopped red bell peppers
- Vegan parmesan sprinkles
- Edamame beans
- Vegan Pepperoni Slices.
Use these expert tips to make this vegan pasta salad perfect every time!
- Do not overcook the pasta. Al dente is perfect for pasta salad.
- Use gluten-free pasta to make this a gluten-free pasta salad.
- Add a tablespoon of balsamic vinaigrette for added flavor.
- The best pasta for pasta salad has a surface area and crinkles to trap the dressing. I like using rotini, but other shapes like penne work too.
- For a creamy vegan pasta salad, mix the Italian dressing with 1 to 2 tablespoons of vegan mayo or cashew cream before combining with the rest of the ingredients.
- Add even more flavor with some walnut pesto.
How many calories are in pasta salad?
Assuming six servings of rotini pasta salad per batch, each serving contains an estimate of 117 calories per serving. To transform this into a low-carb pasta salad, use low-carb bean noodles, and use a sugar-free Italian dressing.
Can you heat up cold pasta salad?
You can put vegan pasta salads in the fridge for an hour or so and serve them cold. Or you can add some steamed broccoli with vegan parmesan sprinkled on top and serve it warm. It’s a tasty dish either way.
More Italian Recipes
Be sure and give these delicious vegan Italian dishes a spin:
Vegan Pasta Salad
- 2 cups multi-colored rotini pasta uncooked (see note)
- 1 cup fresh broccoli florets
- 1 cup fresh cauliflower florets
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- ¼ cup sliced black olives
- ¼ cup Italian vinaigrette (see note)
- Bring 3 cups of water to a boil, add pasta, and boil for 8 minutes.
- In the meantime prepare the broccoli and cauliflower florets, and chop/slice onions and black olives. Place these in a serving/storing dish.
- When the pasta is done, pour it into a strainer over the sink to remove water.
- Rinse the pasta for a second or two. Pour hot pasta over broccoli/cauliflower florets and chopped onions. Stir the ingredients together and cover to allow the heat from the pasta to steam the broccoli, cauliflower, and onions. Let that sit for about 10 minutes or so until the pasta has cooled.
- Add the black olives and Italian dressing, stir until everything is well coated. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour before serving.
(The products above contain sponsored links to products we use and recommend)
The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
This post was originally published in 2019 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2021.