Perfect Summer Spaghetti Salad

We all have our own definitions of “Winning,” but for me, it’s all about getting dinner made ahead of time! We are exceptionally busy this week, so make-ahead meals are the perfect go-to to get everyone fed without sacrificing health, flavor or the budget by eating out.  Today, I made a delicious spaghetti salad that came together quickly with some leftovers from the refrigerator and the pantry. Because this recipe is so adaptable, feel free to improvise with whatever you have on hand.

Prefect Summer Spaghetti Saladphoto

16 oz. cooked spaghetti

15 oz. can of Cannellini beans, rinsed

1/2 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced (I peeled my cucumber leaving strips of the deep green skin. Feel free to dress your cucumber to your own taste!)

1 med. red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 cup of broccoli florets (bite-sized)

1/4 cup of red onion, diced

8 leaves of fresh basil, torn into pieces

8-10 oz Vegan Fake-out Italian Dressing (this was the game changer for me, since I’ve NEVER found a good vegan substitute for store-bought Italian dressing. I saved some of the dressing to use on a salad at lunch. I was over the moon with joy over this!)

Vegan Fake-out Italian Dressing

2/3 c. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

7 tbs. vinegar (I used plain white vinegar but you can also use red wine, balsamic, etc.)

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp. granulated sugar (you could also use agave)

1 tbsp. Italian seasoning blend (or eye ball a mix of dried oregano, basil and rosemary)

4 tbsp. nutritional yeast (This is the revelation! Most recipes contain Romano or Parmesan cheese, and since I substitute nutritional yeast in so many other dishes, I wondered if I could do the same here to get that nutty, cheesy taste. Miracle of miracles, it worked!)

* Mix all ingredients into a jar with a lid.  Shake vigorously to combine well.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Store any  remaining dressing in the refrigerator.

* Combine all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl. I recommend tossing them a bit before adding the dressing, but you will toss them again to ensure that the dressing is well-distributed, too.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to chill and let the flavors marry.

I must admit that this entire dish came together with a handful of this and a dash of that. It was only upon tasting it that I knew I wanted to share the recipe, but realized that I’d have to approximate the measurements for the salad.  I find this to be the inherent beauty of this dish though! You can use whatever you have on hand to make your own version of the perfect summer spaghetti salad! Just promise me you will try the dressing! It’s totally worth it, especially if you are used to buying bottled dressings! Don’t let the nutritional yeast throw you for a loop! (More on that product in an upcoming post!) 

 

 

 

 

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