A cold spaghetti salad packed with vegetables and served with balsamic tofu is a great idea to bring along to a BBQ, or enjoy as a refreshing summery lunch. Vegan, wholesome and just as delicious the next day.
We’re nearly in August, and I can say that I’m gonna enjoy the last month of summer to the fullest. Although, I couldn’t be more excited to start university! I can’t quite believe that in two months time, I’ll be studying my favourite subject full-time and finally jumping into my first year of the student experience.
It’s weird because at times, this gap year felt like ten. I urged the weeks and months to go by faster, for summer to arrive and for official uni preparations to start. But looking back, it did quite literally go by in a flash! This is the most cliche thing I’ve said, but it’s not a myth that gap years are a time of self-discovery. I didn’t even have to go to Thailand or Bali for mine to happen. Except for six weeks in Japan and three days in Venice, I spent most of it in good ol’ England and it’s been highly eventful to say the least. Both the very good and the very bad kind, lol.
Anyway, as I said, I’m gonna make sure the remainder of summer will be a time I’ll look back to and smile. Which, knowing me, has to involve food – lots of it. And believe it or not, lots of salads, too.
That’s where this vegan cold spaghetti salad comes in.
Everyone loves a cold pasta salad in the summer. While refreshing and ideal for hot weather, they are nonetheless filling thanks to the goodness of carbs. I love bringing them along to BBQs and other outdoor gatherings to show that yes, vegans eat a lot of salad, but a salad can be so much more than tomatoes and lettuce throw together.
I mean, the perfectly caramelised sweet potato chunks and red onions are good enough to serve by themselves. All you have to do in terms of preparation is drizzling them with agave nectar, sprinkling on a few spices and sticking them in the oven to roast while you prepare the rest of the dish. They add a hint of sweetness that’s not too overpowering, and their texture brings in variety within the crunchy fresh vegetables.
At the same time as the sweet potato and red onions are in the oven, we start to marinade the balsamic tofu. I thought no cold spaghetti salad could be complete without this, because before I went vegan I used to love feta in my salads, and this makes a fantastic alternative. Because the recipe works best if you chill the salad for at least fifteen minutes after combining with the dressing, this gives the tofu plenty of time to absorb the marinade.
The end result is full of flavour, and can be used in other dishes. For example, why not make a vegan Greek salad for your BBQ as well?!
The tahini dressing
I’ve spoken before about how the key to a good salad anyone can enjoy is in the dressing. This one uses tahini as the base. I’ve been loving this ingredient lately, because it works in countless recipes, from sweet treats to dips and sauces, or even drizzled on a bowl of oats!
Making this dressing is as simple as stirring the ingredients together. What you end up with is tangy, summery, and mild to balance out the spicier sweet potatoes. Just what you need for a great pasta salad, but perfect as a sauce for fries or any other potato based dishes too.
The final result? A vibrant cold spaghetti salad that you’ll keep coming back to as an easy summery recipe.
Served with the marinated tofu and green olives, this has to be one of my favourite dishes I prepared this summer so far. It’s:
- Healthy and full of nourishing, whole ingredients.
- Meal prep friendly. In fact, I would highly recommend making a little bit extra and keeping in the fridge for longer.
- Non-vegan approved – I’ve had a few people ask me for the recipe, so I guess this is their lucky day!
- Perfect as either a side or a main dish.
- Ready in thirty minutes.
In terms of the fresh vegetables, I stuck with the basics with cucumber, tomatoes, mixed greens and green pepper, but feel free to use whatever you have in the fridge. The finishing touch of olives was exactly what the dish needed to give this dish even more flavour and a holiday vibe. And of course, you don’t have to use spaghetti – any pasta variety works just as well.
So, let’s jump straight into it!
Let me know in the comments: what’s your favourite way to prepare a cold pasta salad? And if you try out this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram so I can see your creations!
Cold Spaghetti Salad With Balsamic Tofu
- 280 g firm tofu, cubed
- 4 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
- 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 1 large sweet potato, cut into small chunks
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 4 tbsp agave nectar
- 1 tbsp paprika
- Himalayan pink salt, to taste
- 400 g spaghetti of choice
- 5 large vine tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 large cucumber, diced
- large handful mixed greens of choice, roughly chopped
- 1 large green bell pepper, diced
- large handful pitted green olives, halved
For the dressing:
- 8 tbsp tahini
- 4 tbsp soy yoghurt
- juice of 1 lemon plus more if too thick
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 4 tbsp plant milk
- Preheat a conventional oven to 200 degrees C/392 F. Squeeze any excess liquid out of the tofu and combine with the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and dried basil, setting aside to marinade for up to 30 minutes.
- Coat the sweet potato and red onion in the agave nectar, paprika and Himalayan salt, roasting in the oven for up to 15 minutes, until the sweet potato is golden brown and the onions are crispy.
- Start cooking the spaghetti according to packaging instructions - this usually takes 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the dressing by simply combining the tahini, soy yoghurt, lemon juice, garlic cloves and plant milk.
- Drain and rinse the pasta with cold water. Combine with the dressing, vine tomatoes, cucumber, mixed greens and green pepper, leaving to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Combine with the tofu and olives, serving immediately or leaving in the fridge for longer.
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