I finally understand pasta salad, and I want to eat this avocado pasta salad every week. Living most of my life in the South, I was exposed to only one type of pasta salad––or macaroni salad as we called it. Macaroni salad is rich and creamy. The basic ingredients are mayonaise, hard boiled eggs, celery (for that crunch), and tuna. I never liked it. Even before I was vegan, anything with eggs turned my appetite right off. Perhaps one day I’ll attempt to veganize it, but until then, I’m happy making my California-style vegan avocado pasta salad with grilled veggies.
It is true that my cooking has changed since moving to California. It’s warm and the farmer’s market is bursting with fresh produce all year round, so I’m constantly inspired to make light and fresh dishes using locally grown ingredients. That is especially true right now as we are tossed into the hottest months of summer in California. As the rest of the country is cooling down, California is ablaze with mega fires and 100°+ days.
But not matter where you live, this avocado pasta salad is a perfect dish to transition you from summer to fall. It’s also a great dish for kids going back to school, or homeschool. Even Baby J loves it, and she’s just 19 months old. And did I mention, it’s so easy to make? Here’s a video of me making it on Instagram. So easy!
If you’re craving even more filling salads that are perfect for late-summer, check these out:
- ½ box fusilli pasta, cooked, rinsed, and cooled
- ½ bunch asparagus
- 1 large zucchini or yellow squash, sliced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 ripe avocado, pitted (+ another ½ avocado, cubed for tossing with veggies)
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves + more for garnish
- ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds (or pine nuts)
- 1-2 cloves raw garlic, chopped
- Juice of ½ lemon, about 1-2 tbsp
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp sea salt + more to taste
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- Toss the asparagus and zucchini with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt, and spread evenly onto a grill pan or baking sheet.
- Broil the vegetables for 10 minutes.
- In a food processor combine the avocado flesh, basil, pumpkin seeds, garlic lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Blend until creamy. Add water or more oil to thin if needed. Season to taste with more salt and pepper if necessary.
- Toss the pesto with the cooled pasta, then add in the grilled veggies, tomatoes, and remaining avocado, and toss some more.
- Serve garnished with fresh basil and black pepper.