It’s picnic/barbecue/summer party season, and I know what that means: at some point, I’ll need to make a whole mess of salad. Everyone loves the creamy salads (myself included), so this year I came up with a good one: a recipe for almost 3 whole pounds of macaroni salad with a secretly healthy creamy homemade dressing, lots of colorful veggies and savory grilled chik’n chunks. I made a test batch this week, and every time I eat it I feel like I’m chillin’ at a barbecue.
I thought it would be extra groovy to make my salad vegan and throw in a little grilled veggie chik’n so vegans and vegetarians can dig in and get in on a little barbecue-style fun. I use Gardein brand, and I know Light Life and other places make similar stuff. You can also make your own, if you’re super into it. The chik’n is a nice to have but doesn’t make or break the salad, so if you leave it out you’ll still have a killer macaroni everyone can enjoy.
I went with gluten free pasta to up the healthiness. It costs slightly more than regular pasta, so if you’re seriously cash crunched use regular. I also used red and orange peppers which aren’t cheap, but you get lots of flavor and color for your money. Using tomatoes, carrots and a green pepper instead could save a buck and still look and taste great. If you have a handful of spinach or lettuce leaves hanging around with nothing to do, throw them down in your serving bowl or on plates to give it that sir quality everyone loves.
15 minPrep Time
20 minCook Time
35 minTotal Time
- 7 oz. (about half a package) firm tofu
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- juice of half a lemon (about 1 Tbs)
- 1 Tbs white wine vinegar (or use plain white vinegar)
- 2 Tbs almond milk (or any dairy-free milk)
- 1 tsp brown sugar (or your sweetener of choice)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 6 oz. (about half a box) gluten free pasta
- about 1 1/2 cups Gardein Chik'n Strips (or any veggie chik'n)
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1/2 a large onion, chopped
- 1 c frozen peas, thawed
- 1 large red pepper
- 1 large orange pepper
- pepper and seasonings to taste
- Combine all the dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until completely smooth.
- Saute the chik'n in the tablespoon of oil on medium heat for 8-9 minutes. Get them really browned, like slightly charred. Set them aside to cool, then chop them into bite-size pieces.
- Boil a few quarts of water to cook the pasta. In the meantime, chop the veggies.
- Cook the pasta to al-dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, flush with cold water and drain again.
- Transfer the pasta to a large mixing bowl. Stir in the veggies, chik'n and dressing. Add pepper and a pinch of additional salt to taste.
You can refrigerate the salad in a covered container for up to a week. If the dressing gets dry, add non-dairy milk a few tablespoons at a time and stir to reconstitute.
This recipe is vegan friendly; check the labels on your ingredients to make sure they work for you.
Per 153g, about 1.5 cups: 212 calories (68 calories from fat); 7.6g fat (12%)(0g trans); 0mg cholesterol (0%); 232mg sodium (10%); 23.4g carbohydrates (8%); 4.6g fiber (18%); 13.2g protein; Vitamin A 38%; Calcium 7%; Vitamin C 102%; Iron 12%; Potassium 5%