Warm Pasta Salad with Tofu Rapini and Bell Peppers
This no fuss vegan Warm Pasta Salad Perfect is meant to be eaten warm, but is just as tasty at room temperature or even right out of the fridge, making it a perfect choice for any season or any occasion!
Here’s another super quick, super easy, no fuss pasta recipe that I came up with yesterday.
It was 4:30 in the afternoon, I had ZERO inspiration, close to nothing in the fridge, yet I had to come up with a blog post for today, AND make supper for HubB2B and I. So I grabbed whatever I thought would work great together (down to my last tablespoon of Dijon mustard, that’s how bad I need to hit the grocery store!) worked a little bit of magic and this is what came out at the other end.
You know what they say, right? Sometimes, the best recipes are created out of bare necessities. Well, this is definitely one of them! Man is this thing ever yummy! And the good thing is you can totally adapt it to whatever “necessities” you have available at the time, too. Use broccoli, kale, broccolini, spinach, collards, arugula, or whatever greens you happen to have on hand instead of the rapini. Likewise, you could totally replace the bell peppers with carrot sticks, mushrooms, zucchini, aubergines, tomatoes… feel free to add or sub!
Same goes for the pasta. I realize that I’ve been eating a lot of pasta since I went vegan, but pasta isn’t the same boring wheat thing that it used to be. Nowadays, one can find all kinds of different varieties of pasta, including quinoa, rice, corn, green peas, black beans, red lentils, green lentils, chickpeas… I’ve even come across cauliflower pasta the other day (but didn’t buy it, duh, seriously?!?!) so really, knock yourself out and change things up by using all kinds of different varieties, shapes and sizes!
But whatever kind of pasta you choose to use, you’re going to have to address that first. Cooking it is probably going to be what’s going to take the longest. So bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook your pasta according to the instructions on the package.
While that’s happening, heat a few tablespoons of your favorite healthy cooking oil in a large skillet or saute pan set over medium heat. Once hot, add the cubed tofu and cook it until it gets brown and crispy on a few sides, about 5 minutes. Resist the urge to move your tofu around as it cooks… give it a chance to form a nice crust before you start moving it, else you’re only gonna end up with tofu crumble. Once that crispy golden crust forms, the tofu should detach from the pan fairly easily.
When that tofu is done to your liking, throw that sliced red onion as well as the bell pepper in the pan, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and sauté until slightly softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Then, add the rapini (or broccoli, or kale, whatever green you happen to have on hand) as well as ¼ cup of water to deglaze the pan; continue cooking for about one minute or until the rapini is wilted and a beautiful deep vibrant green. Kill the heat and set aside.
Now, make the vinaigrette: combine all the ingredients for in a small bowl or measuring cup and whisk vigorously until well combined and slightly emulsified.
And as soon as your pasta is cooked, drain it well, but don’t rinse it…
Alright, so the components for your salad are now all good and ready to go! All that’s left to do is assemble this baby…
Dump the pasta right over the vegetables, and then pour in the vinaigrette. Toss delicately to combine, and serve, garnished with a handful of cilantro and lime wedges, if desired.
This salad is super sturdy and it’s just as tasty eaten warm, at room temperature, or right out of the fridge, so it can totally be made ahead of time. Any leftovers will keep for up to several days in the refrigerator.
Warm Pasta Salad
- 1 lb dry penne pasta, or other short pasta of your choice
For the veggies
- 1-2 tbsp healthy cooking oil
- 1 lb extra-firm tofu, cut into small cubes
- 1 medium red onion, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 bunch rapini, stems removed and coarsely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup water
For the vinaigrette
- Cilantro and lime wedges
- Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet or saute pan set over medium heat. Once hot, add the cubed tofu and cook until brown and crispy on a few sides, about 5 minutes. Don't move the tofu around so much or you'll end up with tofu crumble. Wait until a crust forms before moving the pieces.
- When the tofu is to your liking, add the sliced onions and bell peppers, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and sauté until slightly softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Then, add the rapini as well as ¼ cup of water to deglaze the pan; cook for about one minute or until the rapini is wilted and deep green. Set aside.
- Next, make the vinaigrette: combine all the ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup and whisk vigorously until combined and slightly emulsified.
- As soon as the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it directly to the vegetables, then pour in the vinaigrette. Toss delicately to combine, and serve. Garnish with a handful of cilantro and lime wedges, if desired.
- This salad can totally be made ahead of time and it's just as tasty eaten warm, at room temperature, or right out of the fridge. Leftovers will keep for up to several days in the refrigerator.