This Easy Vegan Pasta Salad comes together in 15 minutes. It’s perfect when you need a healthy and tasty dish to bring to a cookout, BBQ, or potluck. It can be made ahead of time for a fast and delicious gluten-free dinner or lunch.
One of my favorite things to bring to potlucks, barbecues, cookouts, (or really any type of gathering), is a vegan pasta salad.
They’re great for a few reason:
- It ensures you (and other vegans) have something to eat – you ever know what people might be serving
- Pasta salads are easy to make and can even be made ahead of time so you don’t have to spend too much time cooking the day of the event
- They’re very customizable – you can add in veggies you know people will love or make it gluten-free by switching the type of pasta you use
- Pasta of choice – You can use regular pasta or a gluten-free one if needed.
- Spinach – Fresh spinach leaves are best for this recipe.
- Chickpeas – Drain and rinse canned chickpeas, or consider making from dried beans if you prefer. If you don’t like chickpeas, chose another bean!
- Vegetable Broth – The broth adds a nice kick of flavor and helps keep the pasta moist.
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes – You can soak the tomatoes in water to help soften them up. If you don’t have sundried, you can dice up cherry tomatoes to replace them.
- Basil – Look for bright green leaves, that do not show blemishes. That is key for fresh delicious basil.
- Kalamata or Black olives – Either variety of olives work in this recipe. Feel free to try them out and see which flavor you prefer.
- Garlic and Onion Powder – These two spices will help to add a few layers of flavor to your pasta mixture.
- Olive Oil – I love olive oil as it is heart-healthy. You could even swap with avocado oil as well. You are in control of how much or little you use.
Healthier Pasta Salad
This recipe only uses a few tablespoons of oil for the whole dish.
However, since I’m not using a highly processed vegetable oil feel free to add a little more if you want because extra virgin olive oil is heart-healthy. Check out my Fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between post for more info on healthy fats!
I included chickpeas for an extra kick of protein. Chickpeas also contain fiber, iron, vitamin B6, and important electrolytes like magnesium and potassium.
The olives and sun-dried tomatoes add flavor as well as some healthy fat, vitamin C, and beta-carotene.
How to Make this Vegan Pasta Salad Recipe
Simple ingredients and minimal prep is all it takes to make this simple cold pasta salad recipe.
Cook Pasta: Start by cooking your pasta as directed on the back of the box.
Cook Spinach: Add a bit of water and the vegetable broth to a skillet on the stove. Toss in the spinach to wilt it a bit.
Process Veggies: Toss basil and the sun-dried tomatoes in your food processor and pulse to mix it up. You want to chop it up a bit, but not too much. Once chopped, set aside.
Prep other Ingredients: Drain and rinse chickpeas and put in a large bowl along with the cooked spinach, olives, and sun-dried tomato & basil mixture.
Finish: When the pasta is done, drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. Toss in a bowl, add all the other ingredients. Then toss the pasta salad, and serve!
- Add in other vegetables you have on hand to create more flavor and texture to the pasta dish.
- You control how little or much you use in terms of oil in this recipe. I like to use just enough to combine the ingredients but oil olive is heart-healthy so use more if you like!
- Feel free to reach for more spices to flavor your salad. The onion and garlic that I use are staples, but branch out and use other herbs or spices.
- A drizzle of fresh lemon really helps to bring out tons of flavor in the pasta salad.
Honestly, pasta salad is one of the most versatile dishes. Toss in vegetables, a homemade or store-bought dressing, cheese substitutes, etc.
Store this vegan pasta salad covered in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. When you are ready to eat, give the dish a good toss before serving to incorporate.
To season pasta salad you will find using herbs, spices, and vegetables are what create dimension to the salad. I used garlic and onion for this recipe, along with olive oil as a simple dressing.
Interested in More Summer Side Dishes?
These are some tasty recipes that I make all summer long:
- Grilled Tofu Steaks – These are a staple for our household during grilling season.
- Ramen Noodle Salad – Crispy, sweet, savory, all in one simple ramen noodle salad dish. This is one popular potluck salad.
- Street Fair Corn – If you love street corn, you have to try this recipe. One of my favorites that are so easy to prepare.
- Mediterranean Quinoa Salad – Simple ingredients with a whole lot of flavor! This side dish is incredible and can easily be the star of dinner.
If you make this recipe and LOVE IT, please give it 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐!
Easy Vegan Pasta Salad
- 8 oz gluten free pasta (or regular pasta if not gluten-free)
- 2.5 cups spinach (feel free to add more!)
- 2-3 TB vegetable broth
- 15 oz can chickpeas
- 10 – 12 sun-dried tomatoes soaked in hot water for 5 mins if too hard
- .25 cup fresh basil leaves
- ⅓ cup kalamata or black olives chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 3 TB olive oil (more if needed – evoo is heart healthy!)
- 1 lemon juiced
- Cook pasta to package directions.
- While pasta is cooking, add a few tablespoons of veggie broth or water to large pan/skillet . Add the spinach and cook until just wilted.
- Put sun-dried tomatoes and basil in food processor and pulse till chopped. You don’t want to do it too much to make it into a paste, you just want it chopped.
- Drain and rinse chickpeas and put in large bowl along with the cooked spinach, olives, and sun-dried tomato/basil mixture.
- When pasta is done rinse with cold water and add to the bowl along with the rest of the ingredients.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- The salad will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days.
Please Note: The nutritional information is a computer generated estimate so these numbers should be used only as a guide.
Mary Ellen Valverde MS, CNS, LDN is a Licensed Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist who empowers vegans to feel confident in creating sustainable habits that align with their values and health goals. She shares easy gluten-free plant-powered food to nourish your body + satisfy your tastebuds. Mary Ellen’s recipes and nutrition info have been featured on Yahoo News, Parade, VegNews, LIVESTRONG, Dr. Axe, Greatist, LIVEKINDLY, Brit+Co, Well+Good, and more.