I’ve been craving picnic food lately, which is weird, because it’s too hot for a picnic in South Texas right now. However, I’ve been grilling a lot lately, and make-ahead foods suitable for a picnic make great accompaniments to grilled dishes. They’re also perfect to take to potlucks. This pasta salad would be especially nice for a vegetarian to take to a potluck or cookout, because it’s a main dish that makes a great side to share with everyone else.
When I was trying to come up with a new pasta salad, I realized that all of the ones I’ve really liked in the past had a creamy dressing and contained chunks of cheese. Creamy vegan dressings are easy to whip up, but I was stymied by the cheese. Then I remembered the smoky baked tofu I’ve been making recently – dishes like this pasta salad are exactly what I created the tofu recipe for. Then I stirred in some homemade ranch dressing and some veggies. Next time I might add some capers, olives, or sliced pepperoncini, but it was great without, too.
By the way, if you want to create your own pasta salad recipe, I found a handy guide by searching for “pasta salad formula.” I’ll be using that recipe again as a guide again, I’m sure.
We had the pasta salad with some grilled corn, grilled stuffed jalapeños, and watermelon.
- 12 ounces fusilli or other small pasta
- 3/4 cup ranch dressing
- 1 recipe smoky baked tofu, cooled slightly
- 2 medium tomatoes, about 10 ounces
- 1 small cucumber, about 8 ounces
- 1 stalk celery, minced, about 1/3 cup
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup minced red onion
Cook fusilli according to package directions. Drain, transfer to a large bowl, and immediately toss with about 1/4 to 1/3 cup dressing to keep it from sticking.
Cube the tofu. Seed the tomatoes and dice. Peel the cucumber, slice in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds (or most of them) with a small spoon. Dice. Toss the tofu, tomatoes, cucumber, celery and onion with the pasta. Thin the remaining dressing with about 1 tablespoon water and add to the salad.
My red onion was very mild and sweet, so I used the larger amount listed.