Healthy Vegan Pasta Salad Recipes

Healthy Vegan Pasta Salad recipes ~ made with a variety of fresh, raw or quickly blanched seasonal vegetables and noodles made from whole grain or bean flours, fortified with peas, beans, edamame, baked tofu, and optional nuts and/or seeds to boost both protein and calcium ~ are the quintessentially ideal food for a summer picnic, or to pack to-go throughout your work week.  Made the evening prior, flavors blend and are enhanced the next day.

A Healthy Vegan Pasta Salad is a delightful meal that can be enjoyed anytime of year, but especially during the warmer months when prepared with summer vegetables that help keep you cool.  Summer cooking favors more raw, lightly steamed, quickly cooked foods which keeps your kitchen more cool as well!

To make a Healthy Vegan Pasta Salad during the cooler months, add more protein and fat-rich plant foods, along with cooked winter greens, such as kale, collards, or other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli.  Try using noodles made with buckwheat flour, a more warming winter grain.  Make with a thicker, richer dressing.  Or simply enjoy it while still warm, as opposed to cold out of the refrigerator.

Pasta Salads are a meal in a bowl, and precisely why they are great to make to-go. Just grab a fork!

Healthy Vegan Pasta Salad with Kidney Beans

I've been making lunches to go to share with my mom when I see her on Wednesday afternoons. I like being able to bring her a variety of healthy, potassium-rich plant foods to balance the higher sodium and fat standard diet they serve at her residence.  Especially since diets higher sodium and saturated fats have been associated with increased risk for developing Alzheimer's disease. (I highly recommend reading Salt and the Seven Deadly Ills to learn more.)

It's been nice to picnic outside, and enjoy homemade food basking in the great outdoors as opposed to relying on eating out, or picking up food from the grocery store deli.  A Healthy Vegan Pasta Salad is one of my favorite, easy meals to prepare and eat out with mom.

I actually never order pasta salads when dining out, as they tend to be made with refined wheat pasta, and smothered in mayonnaise, with few fresh veggies. This makes the pasta salad filling, yet less satisfying due to being low in fiber, and less nutritious, and less appealing for my tastes. Plus, they are low in potassium and higher in sodium ~ a ratio that is bad for our health. 

Instead of getting pasta salad from a store or deli, make your own Healthy Vegan Pasta Salad instead. It's so easy and fun to toss your pasta salad with whatever you like!  I share some recipe inspiration, below.

Mom & I Toledo Metro Park 2022
Mom & I having pasta salad to-go while sitting outdoors

Making A Healthy Vegan Pasta Salad

Whole Grain Pasta 

A Healthy Vegan Pasta Salad requires healthy ingredients!  Start with whole grain noodles, use fresh or QB Greens or Vegetables, and make sure to use a lower sodium dressing.  Manage fat as per your health needs. I prefer lower fat, yet not necessarily no fat or oil-free.

Pasta noodles are made from a variety of flours these days ~ each with varying quantities of protein and fiber. I happen to love 100% whole wheat rotini noodles which has a corkscrew shape, for pasta salads, but penne, macaroni, or any smaller noodle shape will work for pasta salads.  

Whole grain pasta noodles will boost the fiber and possibly the protein content of your Healthy Pasta Salad, along with other vitamins and minerals that refined flours lack.

According to the nutrition information on the box of the Kroger 100% Whole Grain Rotini made from whole durum wheat flour, one serving (56g dry weight) of whole durum wheat rotini is 180 calories, and contains 7g of protein, 6g of fiber, and 243mg of potassium.  Whole wheat is also a good source of vitamin E, and selenium, among other vitamins and minerals. 

Plus, you'll get plenty more protein and fiber by adding either fresh peas, which are also very low in calories, or beans, along with other vegetables, and any seeds or nuts, if using. 

Of course, use your favorite pasta, including gluten-free if needed.  Pasta noodles made with Kamut, Einkhorn, buckwheat, spelt, quinoa, or brown rice and combinations of flours can be used instead of whole wheat.  

Noodles made with red lentil or chickpea flour are more expensive, but higher in protein and typically higher in fiber.  

Many gluten-free pastas are lower in fiber, however perfect for those with celiac disease.

A Healthy Vegan Pasta Salad can be made the night before, or at least mostly prepped. Cook the entire box of noodles, rinse, and let cool in the fridge until ready to toss, using however much you need. (Be sure to read about more great meal prep ideas, tips, and simple recipes.)

Once cooked and rinsed, pasta noodles will keep for a few days in an airtight container in the fridge.  To reheat or soften noodles, I do a quick dunk in boiling water, or place noodles in a strainer, and pour boiling water over the noodles.

I was able to make Healthy Vegan Pasta Salads several times one summer week from one 16 oz. box of pasta noodles: one lunch for my mom and I, one for Don and I, and yet another lunch for four of us to enjoy during a little road trip to nearby Hillsdale, MI. That's 8 servings from one 16 oz. box of pasta that cost less than $2!

Leftover already prepared noodles can also be added to a soup, or tossed with vegetables and Homemade Marinara.

Rotini Pasta Salad with Kidney Beans & Tomatoes
Healthy Vegan Pasta Salad with Spiral Pasta & Peas
Healthy Vegan Pasta Salad with QB Greens & Beans

Healthier Store Bought Vegan Salad Dressings

Healthy Vegan Pasta Salads need a healthier dressing.  I have some simple homemade dressing ideas below.

If you prefer bottled dressings, be sure to check labels! 

Many store bought, bottled dressings contain too much sodium, or other unwanted ingredients, such as poor quality oils and sweeteners, and/or preservatives, to name a few. However, some better options do exist. 

I personally rarely purchase bottled dressings, however, a Catalina dressing, Annie's Tahini Dressing, Neuman's Own Balsamic Dressing, are a few possible store-bought dressing options that would be good on a pasta salad.  Here is a good list on VegOut for more good vegan bottled dressings, including Follow Your Heart, Daiya and other brands.

In addition to the Mustard Vinaigrette used in this recipe, I included a couple extra alternative dressings you can make yourself, if you feel motivated.   Click for a list of my top recommended condiments for lower-sodium, plant-based and vegan macrobiotic cooking to keep stocked for fast, simple healthy dressings.

Cucumber Tomato Corn Pepper Salad

Healthy Homemade Vegan Pasta Salad Dressing

I'm the queen of simple when it comes to dressings.  Try the simple Mustard Vinaigrette dressing recipe below, or make a healthy dressing from blending fresh fruit and vegetables.

Blend together fresh, raw vegetables and fruits, such as tomatoes, citrus, cucumbers, sweet bell pepper and/or avocado, fresh herbs, and a handful of nuts or seeds, like walnuts, hemp seeds, or cashews to keep it oil-free.  Add an optional date or two to sweeten the dressing.  I have several fresh, raw salad dressing recipes in my previously published flagship book, Make Every Bite Count, which I plan to have available again soon!

Or, make a quick Tahini Dressing, blending tahini with lemon or orange, rice vinegar, and a little reduced sodium tamari and maple syrup.  Add other spices as desired, whether grated ginger, dill, or pepper.

Healthy Vegan Pasta Salad Homemade Dressing

This was the fresh raw dressing I made when I used up the remaining pasta noodles to pack a picnic lunch for the four of us to enjoy while in Hillsdale:


  • 1-2 fresh, peeled tomatoes
  • About 1/8 - 1/4 sweet or red pepper
  • Juice from 1/2 - 1 whole lime or lemon 
  • 1+ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons high oleic sunflower, sesame, or extra virgin olive oil, or sub 2 Tbsp. hemp seeds, or walnuts 
  • 1 Tbsp.+/-  maple syrup
  • Spices and fresh herbs, such as a lemon pepper, onion powder, or fresh or dried parsley, basil, cilantro, chives or part of a scallion as desired, or any of the variations listed, below.

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Taste, and adjust as needed.  

Or add any of the following variations:

  • 1 tablespoon each of Fearn's Soy Lecithin Granules, and nutritional yeast. The lecithin provides choline, and will help emulsify the dressing when blended. Nutritional yeast adds a savory, salty flavor along with several B vitamins.
  • White or mild miso paste or a little low-sodium tamari can be added in lieu of salt.
  • Peeled and seeded cucumber, a little bit of scallion, or a tad of jalapeño can be added as well
  • Swap out ground chia seeds soaked in water for the oil if desired. The chia seeds will thicken the dressing. (Or thicken with a teaspoon of Xanthan gum if really wanting to keep the dressing light, yet oil-free.)
  • Blend unsweetened soy milk, or vegan yogurt with a little water, fresh herbs, and seasoning to taste, including any of the above mentioned options.

Healthy Vegan Pasta Salad Recipe - Ingredients & Steps

Healthy Vegan Pasta Salad Main Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked whole wheat / whole grain Rotini or other pasta noodles (About 2 oz. dry or 1 cup cooked per serving)
  • 1 can no-salt kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 4 small, or 1 larger pickling or other cucumber, peeled, seeded & diced
  • 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced on an angle
  • 1/4-1/2 sweet or red or orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • Any of the optional extras, below
  • Dijon-Horseradish Vinaigrette, or the Fresh Raw Dressing, above

Pasta Salad Dijon-Horseradish Vinaigrette

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4-1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp.+ Horseradish-Dijon Mustard (or use plain Dijon or a grainy mustard)
  • 2-3 Tbsp. oil of choice ~ High Oleic Sunflower Oil is light & neutral, or XVOO (See notes for oil-free version)
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or sweetener of choice
  • 1 tsp. white or mild miso paste or 1/2 - 1 tsp. low-sodium tamari 
  • Pepper or lemon pepper & Pinch of salt or 
  • 1-2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes, optional

Optional Extras for Pasta Salad

  • Chopped lettuces, arugula, or steamed dark leafy greens
  • Other grated, blanched or steamed vegetables such as carrot, beet, red cabbage, snow peas, cauliflower, green beans or zucchini
  • Garnish with 1/2-1 Tbsp. roasted unsalted sunflower seeds, chopped roasted walnuts, or 1/4-1/3 avocado per serving
  • Fresh herbs: chives, parsley, and/or a little fresh mint, dill, or basil
  • Crumbled / cut up dulce seaweed pieces
  • Chopped fresh olives
  • Baked tofu or tempeh  (See Pro Tips / Notes / Variations, below
  • Naturally fermented vegetables

Healthy Vegan Pasta Salad - Recipe Steps

  • Cook noodles according to box directions, around 8-10 minutes.*
  • Prep vegetables. A serrated grapefruit spoon makes quick work of deseeding cucumbers, but this step is optional.
  • Add all pasta ingredients to a large bowl. Separately, combine vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake until well combined. (Or whirl in a blender or food processor.)  Taste test, and adjust as needed. If too sour, add a bit more oil, and/or sweetener. If too oily tasting, add more lemon or vinegar. Add more pepper, spice, or a pinch of salt or low-sodium tamari as needed.
  • Toss, then top with any optional roasted seeds, walnuts, or fresh herbs.

Healthy Vegan Pasta Salad - Pro Tips / Notes / Variations

Salad with Quinoa & Edamame
Quinoa Salad with Walnuts & Vegetables
Salad to-go with purple & white potatoes & local seasonal vegetables

  • *Save the pasta cooking water! Use it to make your morning oatmeal or porridge the next day for added creaminess. Or, use in soups, or to water your vegetable garden!
  • I used 4 pretty small pickling cucumbers, as we have an abundance of them at this moment. I like deseeding because it only takes a second, and I prefer not having a lot of the seeds in the salad. That said, Japanese and English cucumbers don't really need to be deseeded.
  • Vary the dressing to suit what you have on hand. Swap out apple cider vinegar for white or red balsamic vinegar, or try rice vinegar with sesame oil. Spice it up with a pinch of cayenne pepper or a few drops of hot sauce.
  • I used to make oil-free vinaigrettes, but it's been a while. I don't recall the exact measurements, but I would mix roughly 1 tsp. of Xanthan gum with 1 Tbsp. of water until combined, then add to the rest of the ingredients. 
  •  Soy lecithin is an emulsifier, and great source of choline. 1-2 Tbsp. granules can also be added, however, it needs to be blended to dissolve the granules. Otherwise, shake well, and adjust as needed with more herbs, sweetener, citrus, or water.
  • Pasta Salad Variation with Peas: Sub fresh or frozen peas or edamame for the beans, or use garbanzo beans instead of kidney beans. Baked tofu can also be used instead. Cook edamame in boiling water until tender ~ usually longer than package directions.
  • Sub any whole grain like quinoa, farro, or whole wheat couscous for the pasta, or make Potato Salad instead of Pasta Salad using a variety of potatoes instead of noodles ~ such as the beautiful, sweet purple potatoes, red skins, Yukon golds or your favorites
  • If making pasta salad ahead of time, peas can be added from frozen, as they will thaw in no time. Garnish with fresh mint, basil, or cilantro.

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