Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cheezy Garlic Pasta Salad

One of my favorite things about being in the Kitchen is a little thing I like to call "Puzzle Solving". 
It's something I really love, and probably one of the main reasons why I've been able to continue eating the way I do. Puzzle Solving has helped me create recipes that hit the same textures and flavor notes that most cooked non-vegan foods have, while still keeping the recipes simple and approachable. Some of my favorite feedback to recipes is when my excited younger Sister declares things like "This tastes like it has msg in it! It's so (explicit) good!" 
Let's face it, most of today's prepackaged food is packed full of crap that induces us to crave it, and crave it, and crave it some more. So if I can have a handful of "easy" recipes that do the exact same thing, but aren't preservative laden, then I'm a happy camper, and an even happier eater. 
I mean, there's nothing better than craving something you can make yourself that also happens to be good for you too, right?
Yesterday I was having one of my classic food cravings, part of it I'm sure was due to the extended Summer weather we've been having in the Pacific Northwest. It's been seriously warm here (which is not really normal), so in addition to making copious amounts of sun tea and smoothies, I decided I'd try to recreate an old classic favorite of mine - Creamy Pasta Salad. 
I remember my Mom used to make her famous Pasta salad loaded with Black Olives, Kidney Beans, Ranch dressing, and lots of cheese. Pretty much the tastiest heart attack you've ever had. 
Of course my version doesn't have any of those ingredients, but what it does have will confuse your taste-buds and rival just about any other chilled Pasta Salad out there, not to mention it's secretly good for you too. But you can pretend it's not, if it means you'll make it.
Important Note About this Recipe
I've got a new method for making Zucchini pasta that I'm really excited to share with you!
Pay close attention to Step 2, as I've noted every part of the process in making this pasta, including the measurements.
If you're doubtful about it and really can't wrap your head around the idea of Zucchini as pasta don't worry, I won't beat you up. It's not the star of this dish, but it is pretty impressive as a whole. 
Other options/recommendations for pasta would be:
Kelp Noodles (I plan on writing about these in the near future too - so stay tuned) or whatever kind of Pasta you prefer to use. It's up to you!
The biggest star of this recipe are the ingredients of the actual Salad, and the super-duper amazingly wonderful Cheezy Garlic Dressing. You will seriously not believe the punch this dish has after you make it. Be forewarned though - you'll need to do a little prep, and make a couple other AtV recipes. I swear to you, this is worth it!
Cheesy Garlic Pasta Salad
This makes roughly 2 generous portions
Step 1. 
Before Hand Prep
This recipe calls for the following two recipes, so you're gonna need to make them:
Step 2. 
New Zucchini Pasta
This recipe Calls for 4 cups of shredded Zucchini.
I'd recommend starting out with 2 or 3 large Zucchinis, more is always better than not enough!
Peel your Zucchini and slice it in half width-wise, and cut it in half again lengthwise.
Each section of Zucchini should be no more than 3 inches in length.
Proceed to thinly slice each of your Zucchini quarters as seen in the above photo.
Once you've finished slicing your Zucchini, arrange them in small stacks as seen in the above photo.
Proceed to slice each stack of Zucchini lengthwise - until you have a big ol' pile of thin julienned Zucchini pasta, equaling 4 Cups.
Place your 4 cups of Zucchini Pasta into a colander...
This next part is also used in treating Eggplant, for those of you not familiar it's called "sweating". Don't be alarmed with the amount of Salt called for, because we'll be rinsing most of it off in the end. 
Add 2 Tbsp of Salt to your 4 Cups of Zucchini Pasta
Mix it in (using your hands) until Salt has coated every piece of Zucchini
The reason why we "sweat" the Zucchini is to remove as much of the moisture possible, this tenderizes the Zucchini as well, which is what we want to happen!
After you've salted your Zucchini - notice how it's started to change in appearance already.
Let your Zucchini sit in the colander for at least 5 minutes, continuing to sweat.
Close-up of the sweaty Zucchini...sounds appetizing doesn't it?
Five minutes are up - time to rinse it really well!
Not done yet...
Now you're going to take handfuls of this Zucchini and gently press/squeeze as much of the access liquid leftover from rinsing.
At this point don't be alarmed, but you'll notice that your Zucchini pasta has greatly reduced in size
In my hand (seen in the photo) is the equivalent of 2 cups of Zucchini pasta. 
After you've gently pressed the remaining liquid from your pasta proceed to spread it out onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, place it into your oven set at it's lowest heat, leave the oven door cracked open and let your Zucchini pasta warm/dry for no longer than 10 minutes. 
Important Note: 
After "sweating" your 4 cups of Zucchini Pasta and pressing it to remove the liquid you will now have roughly 2 cups of Pasta. This is normal, and exactly how much pasta you will need for the following recipe. 
When it's finished drying throw all of your Zucchini pasta onto a cutting board and roughly chop it, but not too much.
Now you're ready to make a Pasta Salad!
Step 3.
Making your Salad
Into a mixing bowl combine the following:
1 & 1/2 c chopped Red Bell Pepper
1 c Sprouted Mung Beans (yay!)
1/2 c Green Onion
As much leafy Cilantro /or/ Parsley as you'd like
All of your Zucchini Pasta from Step 2.
Mix it all together, cover, set it aside and move on to the Final Step - the dressing!
Step 4.
Cheezy Garlic Dressing 
Into a small mixing bowl combine the following:
4 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp Mellow White Miso
1 Tbsp Date Paste
2 tsp Nutritional yeast  
2 tsp minced Garlic
1/4 c Water
Cracked Black Pepper to taste
Now for the grand finale...
Mix your Dressing into you Salad...
...from here I'm pretty sure you can figure out what to do.

Sarahfae - AtV


  1. hey lovely. looks amazing as usual. The recipe says that it calls for 0 cups of zucchini you mean 10? so you might want to change that when you get a sec.

    beautiful photos

    lots of love! -Kimberly

  2. Hmm, not sure where you saw that...I did forget to leave out the black pepper though. I guess that's what I get for being half awake at the computer. ;)
    Thank you!

  3. "new zucchini pasta" is frickin GENIUS! Great idea, and have a great weekend Sarahfae!

    ~ Rick

  4. Wow, this looks amazing! I have always been intimidated by zucchini pasta because it usually required a spiralizer or mandolin, but now I want to try it your way. So great!

  5. I used to love pasta salad too. Your creativity blows me away every time! This looks delicious. I am also loving our extended summer in Portland. Went for a gorgeous hike yesterday :)

  6. Thank you Sasha, Rick, Carol & Nikki! <3!!

  7. This looks ridiculously amazing!