My dear friend Lea, whom I've met and become friends with much too late before she had to move far away from me :( ..., always made this super yummy pasta salad when I'd come over and we would hang out for hours, watching Friends or Glee or any other 'chick flicks' and just have a great time!
Since then it's "Lea's Pasta salad" in my house when I make this! =)
I've become vegan in the meantime since she moved, so I had to come up with something I could use for the feta cheese!
The nearest answer: TOFU!
Granted, I don't get the firm water-packed one here (or every once in a 'blue moon' and if you're not quick enough, those few packages are already gone again..*sigh*) and even though I've pressed it for good 24hrs in the fridge, it still doesn't stay as firm, naturally.. but still. I'm happy with the result! ;)
I can't use Mc Cormick's Salad Supreme spice anymore since it contains quite a bit of cheese *dangit*.. so I looked up the ingredients: SALT, SESAME SEED, POPPY SEED, PAPRIKA, GARLIC, CELERY SEED, BLACK PEPPER, AND RED PEPPER
and spiced the salad accordingly myself. For the cheese flavor I simply sprinkled a bit of nutritional yeast in the mix.
I think this salad can be tweaked to everybody's liking easily. ;)
Any kind of veggie can be used; if I have bell pepper, that goes in as well.
~* Lea's Pasta Salad veganized *~
*~12 oz (320 g) Pasta [I like the tri colored Spirals]
* 1/2 - 1 cucumber, diced into bite sized pieces
*Handful of cherry tomatoes or if not available, ~1/2 c sundried tomatoes
*1/4-1/2 c black olives, diced [I only had green ones]
*1 c Italian salad dressing [or just make one yourself with olive oil, vinegar, spices]
*Spices such as salt, pepper, paprika, garlic, selery seed etc.
*Tofu 'Feta' [instructions on 'how to make one' follows below]
Cook pasta accordingly to the instructions, drain, set aside in a bowl and let it cool down.
Cut the cucumber and tomatoes as well as the olives, add to the cooled pasta.
Prep the salad dressing, toss over the pasta & veggie mix.
Add the spices, toss again.
Into the fridge with the bowl and let everything chill!
In the meantime prep your 'Tofu Feta':
Take 1 firm block of tofu (not the tetrapacked Silken one!), preferably pressed overnight, cut into bite-sized cubes.
*1/4 c olive oil
*1/4 c water
*1/2 red wine vinegar or ACV [apple cider vinegar]
*2 tsp salt
*1 Tbsp dried basil
*1/2 tsp dried oregano
*1/2 tsp pepper
Place everything except the tofu in a bowl and mix well.
Add tofu, stir and let marinade for at least 1 hour.
Once the 'Tofu feta' is done, add it to the salad, toss again and voila! :)
I think of my friend Lea every time I make this and just had to share!
Miss you tons, Lea!!! xo