6+ weeks into the school year usually means it’s time to gather more lunch box inspiration! Today I’m sharing a protein-packed, fiber-filled, flavorful cold pasta dish that’s sure to break up the sandwich doldrums.
This dish is full of colorful veggies and coated in a smokey dairy-free, nut-free, oil-free each style sauce. Thanks to the chickpea-based Banza pasta, the entire dish is gluten-free and the extra protein and fiber will help keep your kiddos fueled through their busy school day. The pasta itself has 25 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber per 3.5 oz serving. Combine that with the added protein from the black beans and the fiber from the veggies, and now we’re really cooking with gas!
No bean puns intended.
If you’ve got picky eaters, covering everything in a yummy sauce is an easy way to sneak in more fresh produce. Feel free to switch up the veggies based on your family’s preferences. Some lightly steamed broccoli, peas, diced cucumber, or even a handful of massaged kale would be great additions to up those phytonutrient-rich greens!
If you’ve got a pasta-hater in your home (my condolences), then whip up just the dressing and use it for a delicious dip for veggies in the lunchbox. The hemp heart base is full of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, while the smoked paprika gives it a flavor slightly reminiscent of bacon.
Well, what this 6 year plus plant-based eater remembers bacon to taste like.
Smokey Vegan Ranch Pasta Salad
- 1 box Banza Pasta , any shape (I used the alphabets)
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 bell pepper of any color, diced
- 2 ribs of celery, chopped
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 can of petite diced tomatoes, drained (you can use halved cherry tomatoes if you prefer)
- 1/2 cup hemp hearts
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp agave or maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp dried dill
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 cup water
- Cook the Banza pasta to package directions. Make sure to leave the pasta al dente so that it doesn’t fall apart in the fridge. It’ll soak up some of the dressing while it sits.
- While the pasta is cooking, combine all of the dressing ingredients into the blender and process until smooth. If you have a bullet blender (like the bullet attachments on my Ninja), it’ll make quick work of this. Taste the dressing and adjust the salt or the sweetness with agave/maple syrup.
- When the pasta is al dente, quickly drain it and rinse it under cold water until cool.
- When the pasta is cooled, stir in the beans, veggies, and dressing. Use as much or as little dressing as you prefer. I had some leftover and poured it into little containers for veggie dip later.
- Serve immediately or pack into air tight (spill proof!) containers for the lunchbox. This will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge. Makes about 4-5 servings.
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Looking for more gluten-free pasta recipes? CLICK HERE
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