Picnic Pasta Salad (Vegan + Gluten-Free)

When it comes to the start of summer, two things come to mind: picnics and the Fourth of July. In the Pacific Northwest, summer doesn’t truly start until after the Fourth. Even as I write this, the sky’s awash with gray and it’s a cool 60 degrees outside. It feels more like early spring than summer. Even though summer’s “true start” is still a week or so away, I’ve been making plans for picnics by the beach and our Fourth of July cookout; both of which include this Picnic Pasta Salad.

This vegan and gluten-free Picnic Pasta Salad is brimming with fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, briny Kalamata olives, red onion, marinated tofu “feta,” and fresh herbs. Brown rice casarecce pasta, a traditional short pasta often used for Sicilian pesto recipes, is the base of this simple recipe. The easy dressing, made from whisking lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and herbs together, offers a punch of zesty brightness. This colorful dish is great as a hearty vegan side to celebrate the start of summer.

Picnic Pasta Salad (Vegan + Gluten-Free) // Homegrown Provisions

This recipe is a snap to make and takes well to variations. Feel free to customize the dressing and the salad as you wish!

Looking for more summer recipes? Take a peek here!

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Picnic Pasta Salad (Vegan + Gluten-Free) // Homegrown Provisions

Picnic Pasta Salad (Vegan + Gluten-Free)

  • Author: Shannon
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 30
  • Yield: 68 1x

Scale

Ingredients

Marinated Tofu “Feta”

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp coarse grain sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 7.75 oz extra-firm tofu (I used this brand), drained

Dressing

  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp coarse grain sea salt

Pasta Salad

  • 12 oz uncooked brown rice pasta* (vegan/gluten-free variety)
  • 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes (halved or quartered; size-dependant)
  • 1 cup cucumber, peeled and diced (I used an English cucumber, but any variety will do)
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, halved
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • fresh oregano leaves for topping

Instructions

  1. Marinate the tofu. Use a fork to crumble the tofu into small pieces. (No pressing necessary.) Add the lemon juice, olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes, garlic powder, and coarse grain sea salt. Gently stir to combine. Set aside. 
  2. Whisk all dressing ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside. 
  3. Cook the brown rice pasta according to package directions; rinse in cold water and drain. Place the pasta in a large bowl.**
  4. Add the tomatoes, cucumber, olives, parsley and red onion to the bowl. Add the tofu and pour the dressing over the salad. Gently toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add a drizzle more of olive oil or lemon juice to taste as desired. Garnish with oregano leaves for something fresh.

Notes

  • *Any shorter pasta variety will work (bowtie, penne, etc.). Avoid long/large pasta varieties here!
  • **Let your pasta cool completely before tossing it with the other ingredients.
  • The dressing has a bright lemon flavor. It will mellow once it coats the pasta and has a chance to settle.
  • This salad can be made in advance. To freshen things up before serving, simply add a drizzle of olive oil or a splash of lemon juice and gently stir. Garnish with fresh oregano leaves. 
Picnic Pasta Salad (Vegan + Gluten-Free) // Homegrown Provisions

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2 Comments

  1. Reply

    Jen | My Healthy Homemade Life

    July 5, 2019

    I love the addition of the olives and tofu to a simple pasta salad! Can’t wait to try this, Shannon.

    • Reply

      Shannon

      July 7, 2019

      Thank you so much, Jen! I love getting bursts of briny flavor in-between bites of pasta. I hope your summer is off to a wonderful start!

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