Hot and Cold Pasta Salads

Food fashions come and go, but pasta salads remain consistently popular. Pasta salads can be served hot or cold, sweet or savory, and they fit into just about every part of the day. Think beyond typical wheat flour-based pasta, and check out whole wheat, semolina, rice, potato, corn, lentil, and mung bean pasta. Also, wheat pasta is available flavored with carrots, tomatoes, spinach, lemon, cracked pepper, or other dried herbs. Try all of these in pasta salads.

A variety of pasta shapes make for appealing pre- sentations for your meals, but it helps to match pasta shapes with the right sauce. For example, smaller, rounder shapes, such as orzo, stellini, or penne, grab onto sauce and call for thinner sauces. Longer, slender shapes need a thicker sauce to prevent sauce run-off.

GOING GLOBAL

Pasta salads embrace the world’s cuisines. Paprikash noodles tossed with vegan sour cream, paprika, and shredded Tofurky give a Hungarian flair to pasta salads, while cold udon noodles with smoked tofu, chopped scallions, and soy or miso sauce evoke Asian cuisine. Pizza pasta salad is made with salad-appropriate pasta, such as elbow macaroni, and all the ingredients and seasonings you would use for your favorite pizza. Options include chopped fresh basil; diced plum toma- toes; vegan pepperoni slices; crumbled vegan sausage; fresh or sautéed mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers; sliced olives; and shredded vegan cheeses. Serve your pizza pasta salad hot or cold.

Leftover lasagna can be chopped and tossed with extra sauce and chopped tomatoes to make a lasagna pasta salad.

Prepare a hot tomato pasta salad by tossing freshly cooked pasta with lightly sautéed tomatoes, basil, and garlic. Chill this combination and then prepare a cold Margharita salad with the addition of vegan soy moz- zarella. Additional fresh basil, chopped fresh tomatoes, diced red onions, olive oil, and vinegar put an interest- ing spin on an old classic.

The ‘fixings’ for tacos can be tossed with cooked macaroni to make a taco pasta salad. Think about using some shredded vegan cheese, shredded or chopped vegan ground round, flavored tofu or Tofurky, diced onions and peppers, sliced olives, and chopped chilies.

A pasta take on the classic Niçoise salad is made with cold, poached haricot verts (slender green beans), black olives, and chopped extra firm tofu. Toss cold pasta with olive oil and vinegar, and use it to replace the usual potatoes.

Here are some additional pasta salad meal ideas:

  • Cold pasta with cucumbers, tomatoes, and radishes
  • Pasta with wild mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes
  • Three-colored pasta with broccoli florets
  • Squash pasta with creamy vegan tomato sauce
  • Scalloped pasta salad—pasta tossed with a vegan cheese sauce, topped with bread crumbs, and browned in the oven
  • Spicy Thai noodles with peanut sauce
  • Cold pasta with soy sauce, fresh ginger, and broccoli sprouts
  • Tetrazzini (cooked noodles) with peas and either mushrooms or cubed tofu
  • Cold vegan ravioli or tortellini salad with vegan pesto
  • Ziti with vegan sausage and peppers
  • Pasta with artichoke hearts, oregano, and basil

DESSERT PASTAS

You don’t need to purchase special pasta for dessert pasta salads. Use what you’ve got on your shelf. For example, you can cook, drain, and chill angel hair. Shape the angel hair into nests and deep fry. Fill the pasta nests with sorbet and fruit salad.

Orzo and couscous can be used as the base for warm or cold sweet salads. Toss warm orzo or couscous with a small amount of melted vegan margarine or olive oil, rice syrup, fresh blueberries, and chopped fresh mint. Serve warm or chilled. Another option is to toss orzo or couscous with sweetened vegan yogurt, lemon zest, chopped dates, dried apricots, and nuts. Bake until golden brown for a hot dessert salad.

Lemon-flavored fettuccini can be cooked, drained, cooled, and tossed with chopped fruit, vanilla extract, and a small amount of orange juice. For a more exotic flavor, use rose water or orange blossom water. If lemon fettuccini is not available, toss cooked fettuccini with fresh lemon zest and vanilla extract, and reheat to seal in the flavor. The same can be done with orange zest or almond extract.