Vegan Cheesy Broccoli Pasta Salad with Buffalo Chickpeas

by Kaitlynn Fenley

Cheesy broccoli pasta salad comes together in just 30 minutes, perfect for any summer lunch or dinner. This pasta salad is vegan, made with a dairy-free cheesy dressing and buffalo chickpeas.

broccoli pasta salad on a white plate with fresh cracked pepper on top.

The Best Broccoli Pasta salad

I make a lot of pasta salad, and all great pasta salad has four main ingredients:

The Pasta: I always use rice pasta. I like the texture better than wheat noodles. The shape doesn’t matter much, but I love bow-tie and penne.

A Crunchy Cruciferous: I think salads are the best when there’s a cruciferous vegetable in the mix. Cruciferous vegetables add texture and lots of healthy fiber. My favorites are finely chopped cabbage, shaved brussels sprouts, kale, and broccoli. I use sauteed broccoli for this recipe.

Leafy Greens: A salad isn’t a salad without leafy greens. My go-to leafy greens in pasta salads include spinach, arugula, and romaine lettuce. All we had was some romaine for this pasta salad, so that’s what I used.

The dressing: It’s all about the sauce. The dressing is what completes this recipe and makes it fun to eat! This sauce is pretty simple. You need tahini, apple cider vinegar, fermented vegetable brine, and nutritional yeast.

Cheesy Broccoli Pasta Salad

When I make this recipe, I cook my broccoli lightly. I like the broccoli to be somewhat seared but still lightly crisp. It’s simple to cook.

Start by chopping the broccoli into small pieces, rinsing it with warm water, tossing it in olive oil and salt, then adding it to the hot pan. I throw in some thinly sliced red onions and sauté until the broccoli is slightly softer but crunchy.

Making the Pasta Salad Dressing

The dressing is what adds all the cheesy flavor to the broccoli. When I first thought about making my salad dressings three years ago, it seemed like a hassle. Now, I exclusively DIY all of my salad dressings.

Once you make your salad dressing from scratch, you’ll see how simple it is. For this recipe, throw some tahini, nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar, and fermented vegetable brine in a blender, and viola! Nutritious salad dressing without all the fillers and unnecessary ingredients.

Pasta Salad with Buffalo Chickpeas

I ALWAYS spice things up after plating salads. Add some hot sauce, kimchi, or freshly ground black pepper. I add all three as toppings to my plate.

cheesy broccoli pasta salad on a white plate with a black fork spearing some pasta and a piece of broccoli
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Vegan Cheesy Broccoli Pasta Salad with Buffalo Chickpeas

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Perfect for any summer lunch or dinner, cheesy broccoli pasta salad comes together in just 30 minutes. This pasta salad is vegan, made with a dairy-free cheesy dressing and buffalo chickpeas.

  • Author: Kaitlynn Fenley
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 Servings
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

  • 16 oz Penne Rice Pasta
  • 1 Romaine Heart, Chopped
  • 1/2 Red Onion, Finely Sliced
  • 3 Cups Broccoli, Chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Can Chickpeas, Drained and Rinsed
  • 1 Tablespoon Vegan Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Hot Sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt

The Dressing

  • 3 Tablespoons Tahini
  • 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Fermented Vegetable Brine
  • 2 Tablespoons Nutritonal Yeast

Instructions

  1. Cook the rice pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain, and rinse with cool water. Add the pasta to a large salad bowl.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add in the broccoli and the onions.
  3. Cook until the broccoli is slightly soft, yet still crunchy. Remove from heat and add the broccoli to the large salad bowl with the pasta.
  4. Return your pan to the medium heat and add another tablespoon of olive oil.
  5. Add in the chickpeas and cook until they’re slightly browned. Add the vegan butter and the hot sauce to the chickpeas. Stir until all the chickpeas are coated in the butter and hot sauce. Remove from heat.
  6. Add the chickpeas to the bowl with the pasta and broccoli.
  7. Add the chopped lettuce to the bowl.
  8. In a blender combine the tahini, apple cider vinegar, fermented vegetable brine (I used kimchi brine) and nutritional yeast.
  9. Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss to combine.
  10. Plate and serve the pasta salad, and top with some freshly ground black pepper.

Notes

If your dressing is too thick, as some tahini is thicker than others, you can add in two tablespoons of plant-based milk to thin it out. 

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Nutrition information is auto-calculated and estimated as close as possible. We are not responsible for any errors. We have tested the recipe for accuracy, but your results may vary. We are not liable for any damages caused by your use of this content.

author avatar
Kaitlynn Fenley Author, Educator, Food Microbiologist
Kaitlynn is a food microbiologist and fermentation expert teaching people how to ferment foods and drinks at home.

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