This satisfying, vegan pasta salad is crowd-pleasing and easy to make. The tangy, creamy avocado aioli dressing makes this cookout staple extra special.
Pasta salad is a must-have for cookouts and picnics, but that doesn't mean it has to be conventional. This creamy, citrusy Vegan Pasta Salad with Avocado Aioli is still a crowd-pleaser, but it's anything but run-of-the-mill.
Confession: I am incredibly picky about pasta. Until recently, I would have flat out told you that I don't like pasta. But my family loves it, so I've been working hard to come up with pasta recipes we can all get behind.
For me, a good pasta dish is packed with flavor, has lots of good texture, and doesn't take too much effort to make. This pasta salad fits the bill perfectly.
Tips for perfect pasta
Nailing the pasta is really the key to any pasta salad, since even with plenty of veggies and a flavorful dressing, the pasta is the star of the show.
Here are my tips for making pasta that's perfect every time:
- Use a huge pot with lots of water. The amount of water the the box calls for is not arbitrary, it turns out!
- Stir frequently. Every 3-5 minutes, give the pot a stir. You won't be sorry!
- Don't put oil into the pot, but do put some salt, if you like. There are different schools of thought on salting your pasta water, but I think a little bit of salt - maybe 2 teaspoons for a pound of pasta - makes a big difference in the taste.
The salad part of this pasta salad is super simple. Just toss cooked pasta with frozen peas, shredded carrots, and minced onion, and call it a day.
Making the pasta is the bulk of the cooking time when you're preparing this recipe. Set your water to boil, and make the aioli while the shells cook up.
For the aioli, I wanted to create a dressing that packed a ton of flavor. This dressing uses half mayo and half avocado to the base. On top of that creamy goodness, you add plenty of fresh lime juice, basil, and garlic. Boom! Pow!
To make the citrusy, basil-y aioli, just throw your ingredients into your blender, and puree until you have a smooth, creamy batch of dressing.
By now, your pasta should be about ready to drain. Once you drain the pasta, you just toss it together with the veggies and sauce, and you're ready to serve.
How to serve and store it
You can make this recipe up to a few days ahead of time. It will keep for three to five days in an airtight container in the fridge.
I like to use my lidded Pyrex mixing bowl to make this. That way, I can toss, serve, and store this dish all in a single bowl. Fewer dishes to wash? Don't mind if I do!
More easy pasta recipes
Like I mentioned above, I'm super picky about pasta. These are some of the pasta recipes I've been making that my family loves (myself included!)
- Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- Spaghetti Casserole (pictured above)
- Roasted Cherry Tomato Pasta
- One-Pot Creamy Pasta Bake
- Instant Pot Pasta with Tomato Pesto Cream Sauce
Vegan pasta salad recipe
For the pasta salad
- 1 batch Avocado Lime Basil Aioli Pasta Salad Dressing - (see below)
- 1 16 ounce box of shell pasta - whole wheat or gluten free is fine, cooked
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 cups shredded carrots - or 1 cup minced carrots
- ¼ cup minced red onion
Make the pasta salad.
- Pour the frozen peas into your colander while the pasta is cooking. When the pasta is ready, pour it in over the peas. The heat will defrost them without overcooking! Rinse, as usual.
- In a large bowl, toss the pasta and peas with the carrots, onion, and pasta salad dressing.
- Chill until you’re ready to serve.
Make the aioli.
- Combine all of the dressing ingredients in your blender, and puree until completely smooth.