Growing up, I was a super picky eater. I was one of those kids whose food couldn’t touch any other food on the plate. (I know, I know, I was awful. Mom, if you’re reading this – thank you for putting up with me as a kid!! I love you!!). In fact, when I became a vegetarian at the age of 14, my mom all but gave up trying to cook for me… but it was this culinary independence that spurred my love for cooking. And now, at the age of 22, I’ll pile ten different foods into a dinner bowl (touching!!) with the best of them. But even after so many years, I haven’t entirely shaken my food idiosyncrasies. For example, I don’t like to eat cold food that’s meant to be hot. Cold pizza? No way. Lukewarm soup? Get outta here. But for some reason, the one hot thing I can tolerate cold is pasta salad.
The tricky thing about most pasta salads, though, is that they can get unsafe to eat if left unrefrigerated for extended periods of time.This is because most traditional pasta salad recipes call for mayo, which is egg-based. Mayo + heat = bad for you. Not ideal if you’re trying to bring a dish to a cookout. Fortunately, this pasta salad is 100% dairy-free, with a tangy, mouthwatering dressing that may be the most delicious thing I’ve ever made. It’s just perfect – a heavenly combination of grainy mustard, nutty almond milk, tangy spring onions, and tart lemon juice. Just writing about it right now is making my mouth water!!
I come from a family that is decidedly not vegan, so I was a bit nervous bringing this pasta salad to our Memorial Day Weekend cookout. To give you a better idea – my dad doesn’t consider a meal to be a meal unless there’s half a cow on the table. And as I gingerly placed my bowl full of orecchiette, tomatoes, green beans, chopped kale, and mustard vinaigrette on the picnic table, I couldn’t help but feel that my little pasta salad was terribly out of place amidst plates and plates of grilled meat. But I shouldn’t have been worried – it was a huge hit, even with my dad! In fact, my mom even texted me days later to tell me how much she loved it!
Maybe I shouldn’t have been so worried about my pasta salad (it sounds silly even just writing that), but when I went vegan my mom was pretty skeptical about it. I didn’t even bother telling my dad. Of course, my mom had the usual fears – that I wouldn’t be getting enough protein, that I would be a bother to my friends when going out to eat, etc. etc. Even though plant-based eating is becoming more and more popular, the Standard American Diet has certainly been ingrained into my parents’ generation, and even my own to some extent. In their minds, things like almond milk and kale are far-out, fringe ingredients that could just as well be replaced by dairy milk and iceberg lettuce. However, I think the long-term results of the S.A.D. are manifesting themselves in America’s population – 68.5% of adults are overweight or obese, which is associated higher risk for a myriad of health issues, such as cancer, heart diseases, and diabetes. In fact, the collective state of Americans’ health is comparably lower than that of other “wealthy” countries. But as we see the deleterious effects of our diet manifest as time goes on, we learn more and more about how diet affects overall health; especially how the foods we put in our body can be used to prevent diseases and health issues before they even arise. In fact, it was Hippocrates (460 – 370 BC) who is credited with first positing the concept of food as medicine.
But for all of my fact-checking and scholarly citations, I’m not a doctor, or a medical researcher. I don’t mean to proselytize or condemn others via my musings on health. All I can speak to, with absolutely certainty, is my own experience… and I have experienced that my health is exponentially better when I eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet. Which brings me back to this beautiful pasta salad. It’s a perfect example that plant-based food is delicious – if not more so – than its S.A.D. counterparts. Flavors the way nature intended. This is a dish that you can feel good about sharing with family and friends, not only because it tastes good, but because it’s good food.
I hope you enjoy this pasta salad as much as I have – it was crafted with love!
The Best Vegan Pasta Salad
- 1 lb pasta I used whole-wheat orecchiette
- 1 1/2 Cups Cherry Tomatoes halved
- 1 1/2 Cups Haricots Verts chopped into small pieces
- 1 Cup Finely Chopped Kale
- 6-8 Spring Onions using the white + light green parts
- Juice from 1 Lemon
- 4 Tbs Almond Milk
- 2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Tbs Water
- 4 Tsp Dijon Mustard
- Salt + Pepper
From the spring onions, take the white bulb + 1/2 inch above bulb, where it starts to turn light green. Roughly chop, and combine with all other ingredients in a high-speed blender. Mix until the vinaigrette has a smooth, creamy consistency.
Cook pasta according to directions. When finished cooking, drain and set aside to cool.
Chop tomatoes and haricots verts, mixing 1 1/2 cups each with pasta once it has cooled.
Finely chop kale, and combine 1 cup with pasta salad.
When pasta and veggies are mixed, drizzle generously with vinaigrette.
Serve and enjoy!
Song of the Day:
Blind to the Blues – Ola Podrida