Craving a creamy pasta salad, and want it whole food plant-based and oil-free? AND you need it to be one that your omnivore friends and family will enjoy too? This healthy vegan Creamy Roasted Pepper Pasta Salad checks both boxes.
The stars of this creamy dish are the sweet and crunchy fresh corn kernels and the roasted sweet and spicy peppers. While many recipes call for cooking corn to death 😞, corn really requires very little cooking time – or none at all. I often eat it raw in salads for the refreshing crunch, but if you prefer it cooked, you can give the cobs a quick char under the broiler before removing the kernels.
Poblano peppers are fairly mild (2 to 8 times milder than a jalapeno) and usually enjoyed by individuals that don’t like things too spicy. The roasted poblano adds some depth to this dish, and is a nice counterpoint to the sweet corn and bell pepper.
The addition of a can of black beans for added plant-based protein and fiber makes this a satisfying, complete meal. Feel free to use any bean you like. Red kidney beans would work well here too.
No heavy mayo or oily dressing is going to blunt the fresh veggie flavors here! This delicious cashew-based crema is creamy and refreshing. If you need a nut-free dressing, just swap out the cashews for raw sunflower seeds.
Delicious room temp or cold, this plant-based pasta salad is sure to satisfy!
Creamy Roasted Pepper Pasta Salad
Makes 4-5 Servings
Pasta Salad Ingredients
8 oz. rotini or penne pasta (whole wheat or gluten-free)
2 ears fresh corn, kernels cut from the cob
1 large red bell pepper (or yellow or orange)
1 large poblano pepper (often mislabeled as a pasilla pepper)
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 /2 cup chopped radish
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 sliced green onions
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, sliced
Cashew Crema Ingredients
½ cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and rinsed (or use quick soak method in notes below)
1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1/3 cup water
½ tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup plain plant yogurt
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Strain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
While pasta is cooking, preheat your oven on broil with the rack on the second rung, about 4 inches from the heating elements. Cut the bell pepper and poblano pepper in half and remove the stems, seeds and membranes. Using your palm, flatten each half out on a baking sheet, skin side up. Broil, checking frequently, until the skins are charred and blackened.
While the peppers are roasting, make the dressing by adding all of the cashew crema ingredients to a blender and blending until smooth. Set aside.
Once the peppers are blackened, place them in a bowl and cover with a plate to steam for 10 minutes. Remove the skins, peeling them under cool running water to make it easier. (If some of the skin that didn’t get blacked enough won’t come off, don’t worry.) Roughly chop the peeled peppers into half-inch pieces.
Into a large bowl, add the pasta, the chopped roasted bell pepper and poblano, raw corn kernels, tomatoes, radishes, cilantro, green onions and crema. Mix well to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning. Top with avocado.
Short on Time: Use a jarred roasted bell pepper and a can of diced mild green chiles. Thaw 1 cup frozen corn under running hot water, or place at the bottom of a strainer and dump the boiling pasta and pasta water over it.
Quick Soak Method: If you forgot to soak your cashews overnight, you can soften them quickly by simmering them in water on the stove for 10 minutes, or microwaving in water for 2 minutes and letting them stand for 5-10 minutes.
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Inspired by Creamy Vegan Pasta Salad by Kris Carr