I’m sure there are lots of folks out there that think that vegans only eat salads. Well, to that I say, if a salad is a collection of delicious ingredients topped with a delicious sauce or dressing, then yeah, pretty much, as a vegan, I only eat salads. And this “Spirit of Minestrone Soup Salad” is the epitome that proves the rule. It’s got everything you’d want in a delicious, warm bowl of minestrone soup – the beans, the veggies, the pasta – but they’ve all been tossed into an insanely delicious Zippy Tomato Vinaigrette that renders your favorite soup conceivable to eat when it’s over 100 degrees outside.
Not only is this “Spirit of Minestrone Soup Salad” a perfect expression of the soup that inspired it, but it’s also a perfect expression of “cucina povera“, or the Italian culinary art of using the humble ingredients that you have on hand to make something greater than the sum of its parts. The recipe below is the “spirit” of the dish, but I encourage you to take liberties, and use this salad as a way to clean out your cupboards and pantry.
The thing that’s going to make your recipe work even if you don’t use the same ingredients that I use is the “Zippy Tomato Vinaigrette”. Loosely inspired by the tomato-based broth that’s ubiquitous with minestrone soups, I wanted to make a rich dressing that served that tomato vibe, but lifted all of the ingredients up with it’s bright and vibrant tang.
Whether you follow my recipe to the letter, or whether you take my inspiration and run with it, you can’t go wrong with good ingredients, prepared well, tied together with an amazing dressing or sauce. If that’s a salad, then so be it.
“The Spirit of Minestrone Soup Salad”
Your favorite Italian soup is now a delicious and hearty vegan salad!
- 1 to 1 ½ cups (about 100g) dry pasta
- ½ onion
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 Zucchini
- 1 or 2 vine-ripened or roma tomatoes
- 1 can (1 ½ cups drained) white beans, kidney beans, or chickpeas
- 1 cup green beans (fresh or frozen)
- ½ red bell pepper
- 1 batch Zippy Tomato Vinaigrette (recipe below)
- chopped parsley
- Olive oil
- Vegan parm*
Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions, but make sure it is fully cooked. You want it past al dente, but not soggy. Drain, and rinse the cooked pasta with cold water. Set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
Cut the onion, celery, carrot, and zucchini into pieces that are similar in size, about ½ inch. Heat a large pan to medium heat, and sauté the veggies in a bit of olive oil just until the “rawness” is gone – about 5 minutes. They should still be quite al dente. Season veggies with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the veggies to a large mixing bowl.
If using frozen green beans, thaw them in warm water before assembling the salad. If using fresh green beans, cut them into 1 inch pieces, and add them to the pasta during the last minute of cooking
Seed the tomato, and cut it to the same size as the other veggies. Drain and rinse your beans.
To the mixing bowl with the sautéed veggies, and the rinsed pasta, prepared green beans, tomatoes, and beans. Top with dressing, and toss. Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper, vinegar, or olive oil to taste.
Serve immediately, or, for best results, allow the salad to refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Before serving, toss the salad with a bit of fresh parsley, and a bit of olive oil – to help get the shimmer back. Serve with vegan parm* on the side.
- *Recipe for Almond Parm
The recipe for my “Almond Parm” is HERE
Zippy Tomato Vinaigrette
Your new favorite vegan salad dressing!
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 6 tablespoons apple cider or red wine vinegar
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon sugar or sweetener of choice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- pinch chili flake
- Add everything to a jar and shake!