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Vegan Mediterranean Pasta Salad with Arugula & Arugula-Balsamic Dressing

A 1950s yellow plate by "Lilienporzellan", filled with some vegan Mediterranean pasta salad

This easy and quick vegan Mediterranean pasta salad with arugula is ready in just 15 minutes and is perfect for a light lunch or dinner on hot summer days. Alongside arugula, we add fresh ingredients like tomatoes and zucchini to create a summery pasta salad with an Italian flair. Pine nuts, olives, and beans are also included. This pasta salad is made without mayo and features a delicious arugula-balsamic dressing.

Pasta junkie

Anyone who has been following me for a while knows that I am addicted to pasta. I always eat pasta, whether hot or cold, day or night, winter or summer.

A few of my pasta favorites that are also perfect for a summer dish include this creamy vegan avocado pasta, this light zucchini lemon pasta with white beans, this lemony pasta with roasted fennel, and this cold vegan pasta salad with tofu.

This light pasta salad with arugula is now another favorite, and I’m delighted to share my recipe with you. It’s simple and incredibly delicious. In just 15 minutes, you can conjure up a taste of Italy on your plate.

A yellow pastel plate filled with a vegan mediterranean pasta salad

Ingredients for a Mediterranean pasta salad

I’ve made this recipe countless times in different variations. The following vegan ingredients have emerged as favorites (you can find the exact quantities in the recipe card at the end of this post):

  • pasta, of course. I prefer to use fusilli or similar. Farfalle are also a great option for this salad.
  • arugula (solid and liquid – more on this in a moment)
  • pine nuts
  • zucchini & olive oil for roasting
  • cherry tomatoes
  • (black) olives (I prefer Kalamata olives)
  • (white) beans

The ingredients have a very Italian flavor and style. However, as I have never tried any “original Italian pasta salad”, I’m talking about a Mediterranean pasta salad here.

Colorful vegan mediterranean pasta salad, seen from above

Variations

The good thing about a pasta salad is that it’s very flexible. In case one of the ingredients is missing: no problem. Leave it out or use another one.

Here are other ingredients that I’ve either already used or that I think would work well:

  • baby spinach
  • cucumber
  • fried eggplants
  • pickled artichokes
  • normal large tomatoes
  • sun-dried tomatoes (not preserved in oil)
  • capers
  • peppers (raw or fried)
  • red onion (raw or fried)
  • spring onion
  • Italian herb mix (frozen) or dried oregano
  • other beans or chickpeas
  • balsamic cream to garnish
  • vegan (crumbled) feta (the link will take you to a simple recipe for the most delicious “feta” made from almonds)

Ingredients for a Delicious Arugula-Balsamic Dressing

If you can’t decide between a pasta salad with pesto and a pasta salad with vinegar and oil dressing, then this arugula-balsamic dressing is perfect, as it combines the best of both worlds.

First, I always made Mediterranean pasta salad with a dressing made out of basil, vinegar, and oil. It was good, but somehow not tasty enough.

So I pondered and puzzled over it until I had the glorious inspiration to simply mix in the arugula. There was always some left-over in the pack anyway, so the dressing is a wonderful win-win on all levels, full of fresh flavors.

And since I can also imagine a pesto for the pasta salad (this is an option for an even quicker dish), but I wanted to keep it light, I created this pesto-vinegar-oil hybrid with the following ingredients (you can find the exact quantities in the recipe card at the end of this post):

  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar (alternatively red wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice)
  • fresh basil
  • arugula
  • garlic
  • toasted pine nuts
  • salt
  • pepper

Preparing the arugula dressing is very simple – more on this in a moment.

A pastel-colored 1950s plate filled with a vegan, colorful Mediterranean pasta salad with tomatoes, olives, beans, arugula, zucchini and pine nuts.

Preparation of the Pasta Salad and Arugula-Balsamic Dressing

This Mediterranean pasta salad can be prepared in no time (ok, in about 15 minutes). Preparation is quick and easy. You prepare hot water and boil the pasta. Meanwhile, you take care of the rest. That is:

  • Toast the pine nuts in a pan without fat (be careful not to burn them!). Put some of them aside for the dressing.
  • Meanwhile, cut the zucchinis in half or quarter slices (half the zucchinis lengthwise, do that again if you like, and then cut into slices approx. 5 mm or 0.2 inch thick).
  • Add the pine nuts to the salad bowl and fry the zucchini slices in olive oil.
  • While the zucchini are frying, slice the tomatoes and olives.
  • Add the zucchini, tomatoes, and olives to the pine nuts in the bowl.
  • Drain and rinse the beans and add to the bowl.
  • Add the arugula.

For the dressing, simply blend all the ingredients. I prefer to use my beloved Mini blender by KeMar *) (the link leads to Amazon Germany. This one *) would be something similar you can buy on Amazon.com).

Pour the dressing over the remaining ingredients (including the pasta, which is now also ready) and mix.

I love to eat it straight away when it is lukewarm. This Mediterranean pasta salad also tastes great cold from the fridge.

If you want to take your vegan Mediterranean pasta salad to a party or barbecue, add the arugula later (on-site) to stay fresh and crunchy. Or leave it out and only use it inside the dressing.

Speaking of takeaways for a party or barbecue: this authentic and flavorful Austrian potato salad, this refreshing vegan tzatziki sauce, the creamy oil-free hummus, or these tasty vegan pinwheels could also be an option for you.

Either way: enjoy your pasta salad.

@plantbased.redhead

πŸ’š Mediterranean Pasta Salad with Arugula & Arugula-Balsamic Dressing β˜€οΈπŸ₯— This easy and quick vegan Mediterranean pasta salad with arugula is ready in just 15 minutes and is perfect for a light lunch or dinner on summer days. 😎 Alongside arugula, we add fresh ingredients like tomatoes and zucchini to create a summery pasta salad with an Italian flair. Pine nuts, olives, and beans are also included. This pasta salad also features arugula in liquid form, namely as a flavorful arugula-balsamic dressing. 🀌 Find the detailed recipe in πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§ & πŸ‡¦πŸ‡Ή on plantbasedredhead.com πŸ€— πŸ’š Heidi πŸŒ±πŸ‘©β€πŸ¦° #pastasalad #arugula #nudelsalat #vegan #plantbased #plantbasedredhead #vegansoftiktok #fyp #thiskitchenisfordancing #smalltownboy #80s #bronskibeat

♬ Smalltown Boy – Bronski Beat
Yield: 4 portions

Vegan Mediterranean Pasta Salad with Arugula & Arugula-Balsamic Dressing

Vegan Mediterranean pasta salad with arugula, tomatoes, zucchini, pine nuts, olives, beans, and an arugula-balsamic dressing. Perfect for hot summer days.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

  • 500 g (17.6 oz) pasta (e.g. farfalle or spirelli)
  • 1 tbsp salt (for the pasta cooking water)
  • 50 g (4 tbsp) pine nuts (1.5 tbsp of them are for the dressing)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 zucchini (approx. 350 g or 12.3 oz)
  • 1 small tin (approx. 240 g or 8.5 oz drained weight) of white beans (e.g. cannellini)
  • 100 g (3.5 oz or 1/2 to 3/4 cup) (black) pitted olives
  • 50 g (1.8 oz or approx. 2 handfuls) arugula
  • 350 g (12.3 oz or approx. 2 cups) cocktail tomatoes

Arugula-Balsamic Dressing

  • 1.5 tbsp of the previously roasted pine nuts
  • 1 hand full of fresh basil (approx. 30 leaves)
  • 50 g (1.8 oz or approx. 2 handfuls) arugula
  • 80 ml (70 g or 1/3 cup or 2.7 oz) olive oil
  • 40 ml (40 g or 2.75 tbsp or 1.35 oz) balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • some fresh pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp water to rinse out the blender jug

Instructions

  1. Bring the water for the pasta to the boil, add salt, and cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet (usually around 10 minutes).
  2. Toast the 50 g (4 tbsp) pine nuts in a large pan without oil over medium heat until they start to brown. Place 2.5 tbsp of the toasted pine nuts in the salad bowl and 1.5 tbsp in the blender jug for the dressing.
  3. Cut off the ends of the zucchinis, halve them lengthwise, halve them again if you like, and then cut them into half or quarter slices about 5 mm (0.2 inch) thick.
  4. In the pan where you fried the pine nuts, fry the zucchinis briefly in 2 tbsp olive oil, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini slices are just beginning to brown (they should not be brown) so that the zucchinis are still crunchy but no longer raw. Add to the salad bowl.
  5. Meanwhile, chop the cocktail tomatoes and olives (cut both in half) and add to the salad bowl.
  6. Rinse the beans in a sieve, drain, and add to the salad bowl with the pine nuts, tomatoes, and olives.
  7. For the dressing, mix all the ingredients (pine nuts, arugula, basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper) using a mini blender *), for example.
  8. At the end of the cooking time, pour the pasta into a sieve, rinse with cold water, and place in a salad bowl.
  9. Pour the dressing over the pasta salad, briefly rinse the blender jug with 1-2 tbsp water if necessary, and pour over the salad.
  10. Mix everything well.
  11. I prefer to eat the Mediterranean pasta salad with arugula dressing lukewarm, but it also tastes great cold and well done from the fridge.

Notes

  • Pasta: This recipe is also ideal for mixing leftover pasta, e.g. 50 g fusilli, 300 g spirelli, ... Just take a look at the cooking time to see whether it is the same or whether you need to add the pasta to the cooking water a little at a time.
  • Beans: You can also use other beans or even chickpeas. Instead of canned beans, you could also soak 100 grams of dried beans in water overnight and cook them the next day for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until soft.
  • Tomatoes / zucchini: If the zucchini is smaller - it doesn't matter. Or bigger - also good. And you only have 250 g (8.8 oz) of tomatoes: Also fine. The quantities are approximate.
  • Arugula: If you are taking the salad to a party, add the arugula on the spot, or leave it out altogether before it gets soggy.
  • Balsamic vinegar: the dressing tastes also very nice with red wine vinegar. You could also use fresh lemon juice (I never tried it in this recipe so far).


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