Looking for healthy vegan dinner recipes? This Italian pasta salad is full of zesty flavor, featuring kalamata olives, capers, and crisp romaine.
This Vegan Italian Pasta Salad was created in partnership with DeLallo. All opinions are our own.
The other night Alex made Larson and me a “throw together” dinner with odds and ends from our pantry and refrigerator. Pasta, various veggies, and crunchy romaine lettuce came together into an Italian pasta salad that was like eating pasta and salad all at once! Not only was it delicious, the romaine and veggies helped us take our time and be satisfied eating less pasta overall. After I tasted it, I knew we had to create an “official” recipe for it here on A Couple Cooks. A weeknight healthy vegan dinner recipe, this simple pasta salad features olive oil and Italian ingredients with big flavor: Kalamata olives, capers, and pepperoncini. To top it off, a very special pasta: biodynamic pasta from DeLallo! Biodynamic is a new hip term in food. Keep reading for what it is, and the recipe for this Italian pasta salad.
What is biodynamic pasta?
So what is biodynamic? It’s actually a difficult concept to describe in one sentence, but let me try anyway. Biodynamic is one step up from organic. Meaning: all biodynamic foods are organic. But biodynamic farms go a step further by focusing on things like biodiversity, crop rotation, animal welfare, and soil fertility. So, biodynamic is like “organic plus”! It’s farmed in a way that’s even more thoughtful and gentle on the Earth.
What does biodyanmic mean for pasta? DeLallo’s biodynamic pasta is the first biodynamic pasta we’ve tried. (We had biodynamic wine in Sonoma this spring and loved it) So, we learned a thing or two about what biodynamic pasta is. Here’s DeLallo’s description of how biodynamic translates to pasta production:
- This whole-wheat pasta is grown and harvested in Southern Italy within the eco-safe standards of sustainable biodynamic farming. It is certified biodynamic by Demeter USA (the official certification body).
- Biodynamic farming is minimally dependent on any imported materials. It relies on only farm-generated pest control and fertility. No growth hormones, chemical pesticides or unnatural fertilizer are used.
How to make vegan Italian pasta salad
This vegan pasta salad is full of flavor, but with no meat or dairy, the Italian ingredients have to carry the weight. This pasta with Kalamata olive and capers is dressed simply with olive oil, so there’s no overwhelming dressing flavor. It’s all about the Italian ingredients here! Here are the essential ingredients in this vegan Italian pasta salad:
- Pasta: You can use any shape of short pasta you like: fussili or bow ties would work well too. If you can, try to find DeLallo’s biodynamic pasta: it’s very high quality and affordable for all the care that goes into the farming!
- Kalamta olives: We also used DeLallo Pitted Greek Calamata Olives here, and the Kalamata variety really carries the flavor. If you’re not an olive fan, you may have to add additional salt to make up for the flavor.
- Capers: What are capers? Capers are flowers from a caper bush that are served pickled; you’ll find them sold in small, thin jars. Capers add a salty, tangy flavor to Mediterranean style dishes. In this vegan Italian pasta salad, they add just the right savory, salty flavor.
- Pepperoncini: To up the tangy factor and make this pasta salad reminiscent of Italian chopped salad, we’ve also added sliced jarred pepperoncini.
- Romaine hearts: Pasta salad with romaine lettuce? Yes! Chunks of crunchy romaine hearts break up the pasta and make it incredibly refreshing. It’s like eating your salad course and pasta course at the same time.
Now that you have a jar of capers…
Looking for more recipes with capers? Here are a few of our faves.
Looking for more healthy vegan dinner recipes?
Outside of this vegan Italian pasta salad, here are some of our favorite vegan dinner recipes:
- Chickpea Couscous Bowls with Tahini Sauce
- Very Veggie Vegan Pizza
- “Can’t Believe It’s Vegan” Spaghetti & Meatballs
This recipe is…
This Vegan Italian Pasta Salad recipe is vegetarian, vegan, plant based, refined sugar free, and naturally sweet.
Looking for healthy vegan dinner recipes? This Italian pasta salad is full of zesty flavor, featuring Kalamata olives, capers, and crisp romaine.
- 1 pound DeLallo Biodynamic Whole-Wheat Penne Rigate Pasta (vegan)
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (plus additional for pasta water and sprinkling)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 2 medium zucchini
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes (if you don’t have access to good fresh tomatoes, sub 1/2 cup thinly sliced sundried tomatoes)
- 1/2 medium red onion
- 1/4 cup jarred capers, drained (like these DeLallo Capers)*
- 1/2 cup jarred sliced pepperoncini, drained*
- 1 1/2 hearts of romaine lettuce (6 cups chopped)
- 3/4 cup DeLallo Pitted Greek Calamata Olives
Boil the pasta a large pot of water salted with 1 tablespoon kosher salt. When pasta is al dente, drain, rinse under cold water, and return to pot. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, the oregano, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, and fresh ground pepper.
Meanwhile, thinly slice the zucchini. Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat in a skillet and saute the zucchini, stirring in 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and more fresh ground black pepper. Saute until just lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Then add the zucchini to the pot with the pasta.
Slice the tomatoes in half and sprinkle them with a bit of kosher salt. Slice the red onion into half moons. Add the tomatoes, red onion, capers (drained) and pepperoncini (drained) to the pot with the pasta.
Chop the romaine into bite sized pieces and add it to a large bowl. Add the olives to the lettuce. Sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt and mix with your hands so the olive brine coats the lettuce. Add the pasta and veggies to the romaine and toss to fully integrate.
Serve immediately. If you’re not vegan, top with grated Parmesan cheese, but it’s optional and not needed for flavor. Store leftovers refrigerated for a day or so (you can also add additional olive oil and/or salt if it looses flavor over time).
*Don’t even think about omitting the capers here! Like the Kalamata olives, they’re key to the pasta’s flavor.
**Some pepperoncini come as whole peppers; look for sliced jarred, or thinly slice the whole peppers yourself.
Keywords: Italian, Italian Pasta Salad, Vegetarian Pasta Salad, Vegan Pasta Salad, Vegetarian, Vegan, Mediterranean, Olives, Kalamata Olives, Capers, Pepperoncini, Tomatoes
About the Authors
Cookbook Author and writer
Sonja Overhiser is author and recipe developer of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best vegetarian cookbooks” by Epicurious, and a recipe developer and healthy & sustainable food advocate behind the award-nominated food blog A Couple Cooks.
Cookbook Author and photographer
Alex Overhiser is photographer and recipe developer of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best new cookbooks” by Bon Appetit, and a recipe developer, photographer, and technical expert at A Couple Cooks.