Happy Monday! Can you guys believe it’s June 8th already? Not that June 8th is a special day (not for me at least) but, man, it seems like this year is just flying by. We got married, bought a house, went to Hawaii, visited my parents, I got a new job, and AJ has already put himself to work transforming our new house into a home. It’s been awesome! But with everything going on it seems like the time just got away from us, and it’s already almost summer and the days are about to start getting shorter again. Crazy.
The awesome thing about summer (or, one of the many awesome things) is the warm weather. Now, I live in California where the coldest lows we have are in the 30’s and the highest highs we have are in the low 90’s – and those days are pretty rare. Normal weather around here is 60 degrees and sunny during the winter, and 75 degrees and sunny during the summer. Life’s rough. BUT! I really enjoy the warmer weather, when I can walk around in just a t-shirt and shorts all day instead of wearing 2 jackets (because I’m a wimp in the cold).
And when it’s warm and sunny out, all I want to make for dinner is pasta salad.
I’ve made quite a few pasta salads in my time, but never something as unique as this. I’ve been loving lemon flavors lately, and thought it would pair so nicely with some fresh basil and tomatoes. I also have been wanting to try some vegan Parmesan ideas, so I found some inspiration from Minimalist Baker’s Vegan Parmesan recipe and adapted it to fit within this recipe. I decided to use walnuts instead of cashews to get a bit of a nutty flavor, which I really loved.
This pasta salad is great either warm or cold – but I think I preferred it cold. I made it warm for dinner one night and loved it – then loved it doubly as leftovers (but that’s how I usually feel about leftovers anyway). If you have the forethought to cook the pasta ahead of time, do it. If not, it’s still wonderful served warm (and you’ll eat it cold later).
We served this with some grilled corn and warm, crusty bread, and it was amazing, though maybe a bit starchy. I’d suggest a salad instead of the bread next time, but the bread was in need of eating, and I have a difficult time saying no to fresh bread.
Lemon Basil Orzo Pasta
This Vegan Lemon Basil Orzo Pasta Salad recipe is perfect for summer. With a vegan parmesan recipe made from walnuts and nutritional yeast.
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings
- 1 box (16 oz) orzo pasta
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 3/4 cup basil leaves
- zest & juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
- salt, to taste
- Cook orzo according to package directions. Once drained, return to cooking pot and add 2 tsp olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking together. If you want to serve this cold, let cool for 2-3 hours in the refrigerator.
- Combine the walnuts, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and sea salt in a food processor. Pulse for about 15 seconds until a coarse meal is made, as shown in the image above. Try not to over-process.
- Chop cherry tomatoes in half and julienne the basil leaves. Zest one medium lemon.
- Combine the orzo pasta with the nutritional yeast mixture (the vegan Parmesan), tomatoes, basil, and lemon zest. Stir together. Add about 3 Tbsp olive oil and juice of 1/2 the lemon. Taste and add more lemon juice if desired (I used a whole lemon). Add salt to taste, and serve.
– Vegan Parmesan inspired by Minimalist Baker.