This creamy vegan macaroni salad is just like the classic macaroni salad you remember. It’s creamy, crunchy, chewy, and delicious! You’ll also love that this is dairy-free and mayo-free. It’s also so easy to make and the perfect picnic food. Serve it with our Spicy Black Bean Burgers at your next barbecue.
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The Best Vegan Pasta Salad
It’s a bold statement, we know, and it’s true.
This isn’t just any vegan mac salad, and that’s because it has a special ingredient. Gherkin pickles.
What’s the Difference Between Pickles and Gherkins?
Gherkins are pickles, but pickles are not gherkins.
Pickles can be pickled in just a few hours, but a gherkin needs about 30 days to pickle properly.
Gherkins are also crunchier than pickles, which is why they’re perfect for this pasta salad.
How to Make It
This is an easy 3 step vegetarian pasta salad recipe that everyone will love.
The first thing that you’ll need to do is boil the cashews until they’re soft and puffy, and cook the elbow macaroni (or any short pasta).
Chop the gherkins, bell pepper, celery, and red onion.
These should be chopped evenly and small. There’s nothing worse than large uneven pieces of veggies in a pasta salad.
Drain and rinse the cashews and put them in the blender with the remaining sauce ingredients and blend until it’s smooth and velvety.
You shouldn’t see any solids from the nuts.
In a large bowl, mix the pasta and the sauce together until the noodles are coated, then stir in the chopped veggies until fully combined.
Tips for Making the Perfect Pasta Salad
- Cook the pasta until it’s el dente (firm to the bite). Test it 1 minute before the suggested cooking time.
- Finely and evenly chop the vegetables. They all be the same size. This adds to the presentation and texture of the salad.
- Stir the creamy pasta dressing and the vegetables into the pasta right after draining it so the noodles don’t stick together.
- Taste it and add salt and pepper to suite your taste.
More Vegan Summer Salads You’ll Love
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- 16 oz macaroni noodles or any small cut pasta
- ½ cup gherkins pickles SEE NOTE
- 1 red bell pepper finely chopped
- 3 celery stalks finely chopped
- 1 small red onion finely chopped
- FOR THE DRESSING
- 1 cup raw cashews
- ½ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup water SEE NOTE
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cover the 1 cup of cashews in water and boil for 12 to 15 minutes. When they’re soft and puffy, drain and rinse in cool water.
- Boil the noodles according to the instructions on the package. For best results, cook until el dente (firm to the bite). Check the texture 1 minute before the suggested time.
- While the noodles are boiling prepare the gherkins and vegetables and make the dressing.
- FOR THE DRESSING
- Put the drained and rinsed cashews in a blender and add the ½ cup lemon juice, ¼ cup water, SEE NOTE, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, ½ tsp garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until creamy and it is thick but pourable.
- Drain the noodles and place in a large bowl. Stir in the dressing until the noodles are fully coated. Add the chopped gherkins and vegetables and stir until fully combined. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
Gherkins pickles are crisper and have a perfect sour flavor for this salad. You can use dill or sweet, but the flavor won’t be the same.
Add more water to the blender if needed. The dressing should resemble ranch dressing from a bottle.
Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
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