First, a disclaimer: I’m usually not one to jump on the Tiktok food trend train. I personally find that most social media-driven food trends tend to not live up to the hype. Pasta chips? Pass. Bell pepper sandwich? It’s a no from me. Custard toast? Absolutely not. (Camille’s version that doesn’t involve eggs is way better, IMO.) However, there was one trend over the last year that I absolutely embraced. The green goddess salad. And with a few tweaks and hacks thrown in, this (vegan) green goddess pasta salad was born.
After Baked By Melissa’s take on the salad went viral last year, I heard over and over again from friends who were swearing by the salad. I had to admit after trying it, it’s really good. So good, that I started playing around with green goddess everything. And in my never-ending quest to eat vegetables without eating just a giant bowl of salad, I turned to my bin of pasta in the back of the pantry. And as it turns out, green goddess dressing paired with tender pasta is a match made in heaven. Enter: the best green goddess pasta salad that (wait for it) also happens to be vegan.
What is green goddess dressing?
If you’re not already familiar with the bright green and refreshing dressing, green goddess is traditionally made with a creamy base, a heaping of fresh herbs, and vinegar. I’ve had lots of green goddess dressings over the years, and some are better than others. I edited my go-to tahini dressing recipe into a green goddess version, making this version completely vegan. I also prefer the blend of both lemon juice and apple cider vinegar for the acidity in this version. While you could use one or the other, I find that lemon and ACV hit different flavors on the acidity scale. Used together, the result is magic.
What kind of herbs can I use?
The best part of a green goddess dressing is using any soft herbs you have on hand. Think cilantro, parsley, basil, chives, mint, and tarragon. While each herb hits a different flavor profile, a blend is always nice. And to get an extra serving of greens in here, I took a note from Melissa’s version and added spinach to the blender as well to really amp up the green here.
What vegetables can I use for green goddess pasta salad?
Clearly, I have a thing for the green-on-green combination when it comes to pasta. Visually, I kept all of my vegetables in the green family for this recipe. Peas, artichokes, cucumbers, avocado, and celery. You can use any vegetables you like, but especially with cold pasta salads, I like to think about how the flavors of the vegetables all marinate together.
For this version, I liked the crunch and freshness of the cucumbers and celery. The peas add a nice pop of sweetness that helps balance everything out. The marinated artichokes add a little tang and savoriness to the salad. And the avocado adds this nice mild creaminess that really brings everything together. Baby corn, radishes, edamame, and any other fresh veggies you have on hand would also be delicious!
Tips for making the best green goddess pasta salad
I’ve also been an avid fan of this pasta salad. It’s perfect for warmer days and is packed with freshness that’s still satisfying and hearty. So for this green goddess pasta salad, here are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years:
- The shape of your pasta matters. And don’t use fresh pasta. Boxed and dried is the way to go here. Shorter pastas with texture will hold onto more sauce which means more flavor per bite. I used farfalle for this version, but I also love macaroni and the classic fusilli for pasta salads.
- Add part of the dressing to your pasta while it’s still warm. Previously, I’ve either waited until the pasta is completely cooled before dressing, or used up all my dressing while the pasta is still warm. I find that a half-half approach allows the warm pasta to marinate and soak up the flavors of the dressing while it cools. Adding the rest of your dressing at the end finishes your green goddess pasta salad off with an extra punch of flavor.
- How you cook your pasta matters. Because pasta firms up as it cools, I like to err on the side of cooking just past al dente.
Pasta salad is a perfect blank canvas for your creativity in the kitchen! Use this recipe as your guide for a creamy vegan version, and assemble as you like.
- 1 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 bunch basil
- handful of any other soft herbs you like (chives, green onions, parsley, cilantro, etc.)
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (I ended up adding a little more to make it more vinegary but start here and adjust!)
- juice of 1 1/2 lemons
- big squeeze of honey (use vegan alternative sweetener to keep vegan)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1-2 tbsp of water to thin the dressing as needed
- 8oz fresh spinach
- 16oz pasta (two servings of any shape you like)
- prepped fresh vegetables: cucumbers, artichokes, avocado, peas, etc.
- Fill a large pot with water and set on the stove to bring to a boil.
- While the water begins to heat up, add the nutritional yeast, basil, fresh herbs, tahini, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, honey, and salt and pepper to a blender.
- Once the water is boiling, add the spinach and blanche quickly until the leaves turn bright green. Using a spider strainer, take the spinach from the pot and run under cold water. Add the the blender. ****This step is optional. You can also just add the raw spinach to the blender as is, but I prefer blanching mine first.
- Add the pasta to the water and cook according to package instructions.
- While the pasta cooks, blend the dressing ingredients together. Taste and adjust as needed to your own liking. Set dressing aside.
- When the pasta is finished cooking, drain from water. Add half of the dressing to the pasta while it's warm, and toss to combine. Let pasta cool to room temperature.
- While the pasta cools, prep the vegetables. Chop any veggies as needed into small cubes. Reserve part of the vegetables for topping if desired.
- When ready to assembly, add the dressed pasta to a large serving bowl. Add the vegetables and remaining dressing to the pasta and toss to combine. Top with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
- Either serve right away, topping with additional vegetables, or let sit in fridge until completely cold and serve. Enjoy!
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