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Make our winter vegetable pasta salad with rosemary dijon dressing featuring root vegetables like carrots and butternut squash plus arugula, mushrooms and onions!
Let’s talk pasta salad
Pasta salad is so good. It really hits the spot when you want something a little more filling than stereotypical greens. Most days you can catch me eating straight up greens, but sometimes I just need some noodles. I love pasta salad because you can really control the noodle to topping ratio which allows you to “pump up the volume” of your portions.
This winter vegetable pasta salad has all sorts of delicious veggies hidden throughout the cavatappi noodles. First you have the butternut squash – a winter vegetable staple. Then there are carrot slices which add some additional natural sweetness. For those delicious savory vibes – the mushroom and onion. And lastly for a fresh kick / slightly spicy kick, the arugula. This plus noodles and a really delicious rosemary dijon dressing make for a really, really good pasta salad.
Flexibility is allowed
I love posting recipes that can be changed simply by swapping out a vegetable or two. If you want to make winter vegetable pasta salad but only have carrots on hand but no butternut squash, don’t use the squash. If you can only find acorn squash… great! Use broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, or whatever else is in season.
Don’t like cavatappi? Use penne. Are you gluten-free? Use Banza pasta or red lentil pasta instead! Seriously the substitutions and flexibility available with winter vegetable pasta salad is pretty great. You could even substitute a different spice if you’re not a fan of rosemary. I think thyme would taste great. Sage too.
What ingredients do you need to make winter vegetable pasta salad?
Noodles: You can’t have pasta salad without pasta! For this recipe I used one of my favorite noodle shapes – cavatappi. I like this shape because its easy to get a fork full of noodles and veggies since the noodle shape has all these crevices for veggies to fit into. If you’re gluten-free, I think Banza shells or Barilla red lentil penne would work as substitutes.
Butternut squash, carrot, and onion: This trio of vegetables get roasted in the oven with a little bit of olive oil. I like to roast these until I get some char action which enhances the flavor of the vegetables.
Mushrooms: Because mushrooms taste better on the stove, I made the executive decision to cook them in a skillet as opposed to roasting them with the rest of the vegetables. Bonus: you’ll also make the dressing in the same skillet which absorbs a lot of the mushroom juice. This is my way of making it worth it to cook them separately.
Arugula: Arugula brings some extra sharpness to the winter vegetable pasta salad which compliments the sweetness of the butternut squash and carrots.
Rosemary sprigs, dijon mustard, agave, and apple cider vinegar: To make the rosemary dijon dressing, you’ll need fresh rosemary sprigs. If you can’t locate fresh rosemary, dried rosemary will still work… you’ll just lose a lot of the “freshness” that rosemary sprigs bring to the table. Then, you’ll need dijon mustard. It should be known that not all dijon mustard is vegan. Grey Poupon is though, so I just buy that! And lastly, agave for a bit of sweetness, and apple cider vinegar for additional tartness.
Extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper: To cook the vegetables, you’ll need extra virgin olive oil. Sorry WFPB folks! If you have a preferred way of cooking the vegetables without oil, this recipe will be suitable for your dietary needs. And lastly, you’ll salt and pepper to tie all of the flavors together.
How do you make winter vegetable pasta salad?
Making the winter vegetable pasta salad is quite simple. As far as kitchen tools, you’ll need a vegetable peeler, a knife, a cutting board, a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, a skillet, a medium-sized pot, measuring spoons, a wooden spoon, and a large bowl.
Start by preheating the oven to 450 degrees. While the oven heats, peel your butternut squash about one and a half cup of squash into half-inch cubes. Next, peel and slice the carrot and onion into bite-sized pieces. Toss the veggies in extra vigrin olive oil on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Then, roast the vegetables in the oven until you see some charred bits on top – about 30 minutes.
While the vegetables roast, it’s time to make the pasta and the mushrooms. For the pasta, cook the cavatappi (or noodle of your choice) in a medium-sized pot filled with salted boiling water. It’s important to salt your pasta water because it gives your noodles extra flavor. When the noodles are ready, drain the noodles and rinse. This helps cool the noodles quickly. Then add to a large bowl and refrigerate until you’re ready to assemble the pasta salad.
Next, slice the mushrooms into small pieces and add to a skillet with extra virgin olive oil. Cook the mushrooms for about 15 minutes or until tender, then remove from the heat and add the water, dijon mustard, rosemary sprigs, agave, and apple cider vinegar. Stir until combined and set aside.
When the vegetables are fully roasted, add them to the large bowl with the noodles and continue to refrigerate until the ingredients reach room temperature.
Once the pasta and veggies are cold, remove them from the refrigerator and add the mushrooms and dressing. Stir to combine adding more water if needed to thin out the dressing. Lastly, add two cups of arugula to the pasta salad and salt and pepper to taste. Serve the pasta salad at room temperature or refrigerate again and serve cold.
I personally think winter vegetable pasta salad tastes best at room temperature!
Substitution ideas and more
Winter vegetable pasta salad with rosemary dijon dressing is highly adaptable. If you don’t like a certain ingredient or are looking to shake things up a bit, here are some substitution ideas.
Use a different pasta shape: Can’t find cavatappi pasta? Use whatever pasta shape you’d like! I think shells, fusilli, orzo, or bowties would work great with this recipe.
Go gluten-free: To make winter vegetable pasta salad gluten-free, simply use gluten-free pasta. I think Barilla red lentil pasta would work really well with this recipe. Banza shells would taste great too.
Sub thyme or sage: If rosemary isn’t your thing, consider substituting a different spice like thyme or sage. I would still go fresh over dried if you have the option.
Add broccoli or other vegetables: If you’re not a squash fan, this recipe would taste great with broccoli, beets, asparagus – you name it.
Serve it hot: Instead of making it a pasta salad, make it into a hot pasta dish by simply adding cooking the pasta in a large pot instead and adding all of the ingredients in there once the pasta has been cooked and drained. Top with arugula when serving.
Add chili flakes or aleppo pepper: Give your winter vegetable pasta salad a kick by adding some chili flakes or aleppo pepper to the dressing.
Want more recipes?
If you like this winter vegetable pasta salad with rosemary dijon dressing, you might like some of my other recipes. Definitely check out these ideas!
- Chipotle corn pasta salad
- Asparagus with tofu ricotta and spicy bread crumbs
- Miso butter mashed rutabagas
- Butternut squash orzo bake
- Pumpkin soup with almond sage crumble
- Sweet potato quinoa bowls
In this segment, I suggest a song for you to listen to while you make winter vegetable pasta salad with rosemary dijon dressing! You can even stream it right here in your browser. Today’s recipe jam is Barracuda by John Cale.
If you try this recipe, I want to hear about it! Feel free to post your creations to Instagram or Facebook and tag Hell Yes It’s Vegan or #hellyesitsvegan. I look forward to seeing what you make!
Winter Vegetable Pasta Salad with Rosemary Dijon Dressing
- vegetable peeler
- cutting board
- measuring cups and spoons
- baking sheet lined with parchment paper
- medium-sized pot
- large bowl
- wooden spoon
- 8 oz cavatappi noodles, (Or pasta of your choice)
- 10 oz butternut squash, (peeled and cut into half-inch cubes)
- ½ large yellow onion, (cut into half-inch pieces)
- 1 large carrot, (sliced)
- 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, (chopped into half-inch pieces)
- 1 ½ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, (divided)
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, (stems removed)
- ½ cup water
- 2 ½ Tbsp dijon mustard, *
- ½ Tbsp agave
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups arugula
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss butternut squash, carrots, and onions in 1 Tbsp olive oil. Spread across baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast until some charring occurs – about 30 minutes.
- Cook noodles according to package instructions in salted water. Once noodles are cooked, strain and rinse with cool water. Then, add to a large bowl and store in refrigerator to cool.
- Add mushrooms and remaining ½ Tbsp olive oil to a skillet. Cook the mushrooms on medium-low until tender – about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Add water, rosemary, dijon, agave, and apple cider vinegar, stirring until combined. Set aside.
- Add roasted vegetables to the large bowl with noodles and continue to chill until ingredients reach room temperature – about 5-10 minutes.
- Add mushrooms and dressing to the noodles and vegetables. Gently toss until combined. You may need to add another tablespoon or so of water to thin out the dressing. Add arugula and salt and pepper to taste. I prefer to serve the pasta salad at room temperature, but if you want it cold, return to the fridge and serve when chilled.
This was amazing! My family and I had it for dinner last night and it was so good. We all came back for seconds. In the second go around I added some lemon juice to the top and that was great as well. Will definitely be having this again!
Thanks for giving it a shot Alice! So happy you and your family loved it 🙂