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Vegan Ranch Pasta Salad

This tasty 20-minute Vegan Ranch Pasta Salad is easy to make and much healthier than boxed pasta salads because it uses real plant-based foods such as carrots, peas, and tempeh. It’s perfect for BBQs, potlucks, or parties and is gluten and dairy-free!

BBQs, picnics, and potlucks are such fun ways to celebrate with family and friends. I’m always looking for something delicious to bring to impress people and show them how tasty a plant-based diet can be like with some Street Fair Corn, Grilled Tofu Steaks, or Ramen Noodle Salad.

In my pre-veg days, one of my favorite foods at our family BBQs used to be that boxed Betty Crocker Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad. Though it was not the healthiest thing in the world, I loved it anyway. So much so that I usually ate like half the box myself!

Because I missed having that pasta salad during our BBQs, I decided to create a recipe that was healthier and plant-based that everyone would enjoy. So I came up with this copycat recipe that my whole family has loved (including omnivores).

Now no one misses the old boxed stuff!

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  • Dairy-Free Ranch
  • Added Protein
  • More Summer Side Dishes
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Dairy-Free Ranch

First, I needed to whip up a tasty vegan ranch dressing. Ranch was my jam before giving up dairy so I knew I wanted to do it justice.

I make a delicious ranch dipping sauce for my Buffalo Quinoa Balls and I considered using that. Although that sauce is tasty and would definitely work for this pasta salad, the ranch I ultimately created for the dish is quick to make and a bit lighter in texture than my original version.

I think this version works a bit better on the pasta. It makes the dish smoother.

The fresh herbs take this pasta salad to the next level so I do recommending using them if you can. If not, you can sub in a little less of the dried herbs.

Added Protein

I love the taste of bacon bits and ranch together (did you know many of those bacon bits – like the one from McCormick – were actually vegan?!). I use them in a pinch but since they are very processed, I wanted to come up with another idea to share with you.

I have used tempeh before in my Spicy Sesame Noodles and Teriyaki Tempeh so thought that could work as a good substitute. I’m glad I tried it because it worked out well.

Most health food stores like Whole Foods will have tempeh and many large mainstream grocery stores carry it now – I have found some at my local Stop and Shop. If you have never tried tempeh or tried it before and didn’t think it was for you, give this cooking technique a try, it’s really good!

If you’re in a rush and have bacon bits on hand, you can always use them in this vegan ranch pasta salad instead of the tempeh crumbles. Or you can try my Tofu Crumbles if tofu is more your thing.


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