The Best Creamy Vegan Macaroni Salad


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This vegan macaroni salad is reminiscent of the classic deli style but healthy and made with whole food ingredients. Creamy, easy and simply the best ever!

I could eat this vegan mac salad daily. It’s perfect for a picnic, barbecue or just a summer side dish. It may be dairy free, and not made with mayo, but the homemade creamy dressing makes it incredible!

Two white bowls stacked and filled with creamy macaroni salad and a fork getting a bite from it.

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This post was originally published on April 17, 2017.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of truRoots. The opinions and text are all mine.

I use the same creamy dressing flavors in my vegan potato salad, which is also the perfect summer side. it blows my mind how these recipes are not only dairy free but gluten free too!

The classic recipe traditionally uses a mayo type base, so I set out to find a way to make a macaroni salad without mayo, but still have the same tangy creamy flavor that mayo brings. I nailed it, and when mixed with everything else it is spot on! I don’t even think it’s a stretch to call this the best vegan macaroni salad recipe ever!

Ingredients

Here is what you need to make this creamy macaroni salad:

Salad Base:

  • Macaroni
  • Peppers
  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Pickles
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Creamy mayo like dressing:

  • Cashews
  • Potatoes
  • White beans
  • Pickle juice
  • Salt
  • Garlic
  • Ground mustard seed
  • Water

This combo makes a perfect mayo like taste and texture that would fool just about anyone! After mixing in the toppings and pasta it was pure joy to shovel into my belly!

How To Make Vegan Macaroni Salad

This is a fairly simple recipe that requires 3 main parts to be made, then mixed and you’re done!

  1. Cook pasta.
  2. Make the creamy dressing.
  3. Sauté peppers.
  4. Add everything into a bowl.
  5. Mix well, refrigerate to let it get cold if preferred.

What kind of pasta is best?

Because this is a cold type of pasta recipe, I needed a macaroni that kept it’s great texture in the fridge. With gluten-free pasta that isn’t easy to find. There are a few go-to brands I love and TruRoots pastas are one of them!

The texture is perfect for salads and such that you want to serve later that day or even the next day. Plus they are Certified USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified and gluten-free.

Also awesome, they come in Spaghetti, Penne, Elbow, and Fusilli varieties. Woot woot! Because where there is more pasta, there should always be more pasta.

Ideas for Mix-ins

You can definitely change this up to make it your own. The ingredients I use here are to capture that spot on deli flavor, but you can add in even more for a veggie macaroni salad! Here are some ideas:

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Green onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow squash
  • Tomato
  • Peas

What to Serve with Macaroni Salad

There are so many amazing dishes that go with this healthy macaroni salad! I literally can have it with anything but generally, think picnics and barbecues. Here are some of our faves:

Top side view of two white bowls stacked and filled with creamy macaroni salad surrounded by ingredients in smaller bowls.

Tips for Making Ahead

This vegan macaroni salad is a great dish to make ahead of time! In fact, letting it rest in the refrigerator allows the ingredients to marinate together longer, which will allow for even more flavorful bites! Which makes this perfect for a vegan picnic.

  • Use a solid pasta brand, some pastas will break down too much as they sit.
  • You should only make this a day or two ahead of time as you don’t want it to get soggy.
  • You can also just prep the parts ahead of time, then make the pasta fresh and mix in everything else day of.

Storing Tips

  • Keep this macaroni salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • It will be best to eat within 2-3 days, but safe to eat for up to 5.
  • It will keep out of the refrigerator longer than the traditional mayo filled kind, but you’re not going to want it to sit out for more than a few hours. Let’s be honest, chilled macaroni salad always tastes better than room temperature!

Common Questions

Is macaroni salad healthy?

Usually macaroni salad is made with mayo and sometimes even sugar, making it not very healthy. This recipe however uses all plant based ingredients to make a healthier version!

What’s the difference between macaroni salad and pasta salad?

Sometimes the terms are used interchangeably, and technically both are in the pasta salad category. However, macaroni salad has a creamy base, whereas pasta salad the dish is dressed with a vinaigrette.

Can you freeze macaroni salad?

Technically yes, however it won’t be quite as good once defrosted since the texture might change. Your best bet is to mix up the dressing and freeze that separately. When you are ready to serve simply defrost the dressing, give it another blend if it separated, then mix with the pasta!

More Vegan Side Dish Recipes

Whether it’s a family cookout at home or a big potluck, these plant based recipes will have everyone coming back for seconds!

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A fork getting a bite of creamy macaroni salad from a stack of two white bowls with blue rims.

The Best Creamy Vegan Macaroni Salad

Sophia DeSantis

This vegan macaroni salad is reminiscent of the classic deli style but healthy and made with whole food ingredients. Creamy, easy and simply the best ever!

Prep Time 15 mins

Cook Time 15 mins

Total Time 30 mins

Course Main Course, Side Dish

Cuisine American

Servings 6

Calories 446 kcal

Ingredients 

 

  • 16 ounces elbow macaroni pasta , or other preferred shape
  • 2 cups chopped sweet red/orange/yellow pepper , one kind or a mix
  • your favorite oil to sauté , or broth if oil free
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ cup chopped celery
  • ¾ cup chopped dill pickles
  • ¼ cup dill pickle juice , from the jar
  • ¾ cup chopped red onion , soaked in cold water for a few minutes and drained (see note)
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Creamy dressing

  • 1 cup raw cashews , see note
  • ¼ cup cooked potato , see note
  • ½ cup cooked white beans , rinsed and drained
  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons dill pickle juice , from the jar
  • 1 ½ – 2 teaspoons sea salt , adjust for your preference
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon ground mustard seed

Instructions 

  • Cook pasta according to package directions.

  • Once pasta is done, rinse in cold water then add it to the bowl with the veggies below.

  • Saute chopped sweet pepper over medium heat using veggie broth or oil and a dash of salt. Cook until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, put celery, red onion, dill pickles, pickle juice and black pepper in a large bowl.

  • Next, make the creamy dressing by putting the ingredients into a blender and blend until creamy and smooth.

  • Add the creamy dressing to the bowl and mix. Taste and adjust salt as necessary. I needed an extra ½ teaspoon.

  • Place in the fridge while you clean up to allow it to get cold and so the flavors can marinate completely.

  • Once ready, garnish with ingredients of choice and devour!

Notes

  • Any sweet pepper variety works, or a combo of all.
  • Soaking the onion helps takes the bite out of it. This step is optional but it helps reduce the strong onion flavor.
  • I like putting the extra pickle juice in the bowl with the veggies to help them marinate in the flavor while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  • If you don’t have a high speed blender, soak the cashews overnight to soften them. You can also boil them for 20-25 minutes if you forget. Another method is using a coffee or spice grinder to grind them dry (not soaking) into a very fine powder.
  • I used red potatoes but any starchy potato will work, just don’t use sweet. It also won’t work to substitute with something that is not an actual potato (such as another root vegetable). 

Tips to prep ahead:

  • Chop veggies. Saute red pepper. Soak or grind cashews if not using a high speed blender. Cook potato. Make creamy dressing.

Baby/toddler food idea:

  • Make sure pasta is well cooked and veggies are finely chopped.

Recipe by Veggies Don’t Bite, visit our site for more great plant-based recipes.

Nutrition

Calories: 446kcalCarbohydrates: 72gProtein: 15gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 954mgPotassium: 560mgFiber: 5gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 190IUVitamin C: 93.6mgCalcium: 54mgIron: 3mg

Nutrition and metric information should be considered an estimate.

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