Flavourful vegan dish also great with fish, chicken or beef!
I love pasta salad, though definitely NOT with creamy dressings – I’m a vinaigrette girl all the way (unless, of course, I’m using pesto thinned with the hot pasta cooking water as an alternative). True to form, I rarely make the same pasta salad twice because I really enjoy coming up with delicious ways to shake up familiar favourites. My latest creation follows the same technique I use for all my pasta salads which includes blanching the firmest vegetables (in this case, broccoli and carrots) in the same pot as the pasta for the final two minutes of cooking time. It’s a great method because it saves on dishes and the salty pasta water adds a delicious flavour to the vegetables. The Vietnamese-inspired dressing I’ve concocted is really flavourful and best of all, it makes a super marinade for grilled or pan-fried salmon, beef or chicken, all of which just happen to pair exceedingly well with this salad – you can just sneak a tablespoon or two of the dressing from the batch and drizzle it over the salmon before cooking. You can prep the dressing and cut up all the vegetables ahead of time and pull this salad together in just 15 minutes for a quick dinner or spontaneous picnic. As a bonus, gluten-free pasta would work really well in this recipe. Win-win-win!
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (23 mL) soya sauce
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) chili garlic paste (or more, to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) grated fresh gingerroot
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) maple syrup or honey
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) freshly-squeezed lime juice
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) canola oil
Pasta and vegetables:
- 1 cup (250 mL) small broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) thinly sliced carrot
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) salt
- 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) uncooked fusilli pasta (or rotini)
- 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) finely sliced cabbage
- 1 cup (250 mL) slivered red pepper
- 1 cup (250 mL) fresh pea shoots, sliced in half crosswise*
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped cilantro leaves
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) sesame seeds
- lime wedges, for garnish
*Can substitute with sliced spinach, though pea shoots add so much flavour and crunch.
- Make the dressing by combining all ingredients in a jar with a tight lid. Shake to blend and set aside. Refrigerate if not using within 2 hours.
- Prepare the broccoli and carrots so they will be ready to blanch when the pasta is almost done. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of boiling water to a boil. Add the salt, stir, then add the pasta. Cook until pasta is just about al dente.
- While pasta cooks, prepare the peppers, cabbage, pea shoots, green onions and cilantro.
- When pasta is nearly done, add broccoli and carrots; cook for 2 minutes more then drain and transfer to a serving bowl.
- Drizzle with dressing (it’s best to do this while the pasta is still warm) and toss for 3 – 4 minutes to combine well (the pasta will absorb some of the dressing).
- Add peppers and cabbage and toss for 1 minute more.
- When ready to serve, add pea shoots, green onions, cilantro and sesame.
- This salad is best served at room temperature; if made in advance you can refrigerate then gently microwave to take the chill off before adding garnishes.
Makes about 6 cups/1.5 L of salad; delicious as a main course or a side dish.