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Vegan Miniature Mozzarella Ball Pasta Salad

Vegan Miniature Mozzarella Ball Pasta Salad

This fully vegan mozzarella ball pasta salad is going to blow your mind. The vegan mozzarella balls are reminiscent of ciliegine - those really cute, cherry-sized mozzarella balls which tend to be marinaded and served as an antipasti. They’re very mild flavoured until left to soak in a delicious, herby marinade packed with lemon zest and juice.

The salad itself is dressed in a beautiful pesto-style dressing which just BEGS to be eaten on a warm summers day, alongside a nice slab of sourdough focaccia.

Just one ingredient note this time: Kappa carrageenan. It’s a gelling agent which helps the mozzarella balls to form when they hit the cold water. In my experience it doesn’t like salt too much, so if you add a bunch to this recipe, you’ll find it doesn’t want to set! Stick to the recipe and you’ll be fine! Enjoy guys!

For the Mozzarella Balls

90g silken tofu (firm)
40g plant milk (I used oat)
1 tsp nutritional yeast
20g lemon juice
2 tbsp tapioca starch
3/4 tsp kappa carrageenan
40g deodorised coconut oil

For the Mozzarella Ball Marinade

30g extra virgin olive oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp minced parsley
1 tbsp minced basil
1 tsp flaky sea salt
1 clove of garlic (crushed with the side of a knife)

For the Pesto Dressing
45g fresh basil leaves (roughly chopped)
20g fresh parsley leaves (roughly chopped)
45g extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
80g cashews (toasted in a dry frying pan)
2 cloves garlic (roughly chopped)
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
6 tbsp water

For the Pasta Salad
350g vegan pasta (I used spirali)
250g mixed baby tomatoes
100g olives (chopped into 1/2cm discs)
Small bunch of fresh basil

To Make the Mozzarella Balls
Half fill a large tub or a deep saucepan with cold water and a handful of ice cubes. Set aside.

Place all the mozzarella ingredients in the cup of a high speed blender and blitz until very smooth. Transfer the mixture to a medium saucepan and place over a medium/low heat. Whisking constantly with a metal whisk, raise the temperature of the cheese mixture until it starts to thicken - keep whisking until it’s very stringy and comes away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat.

While the mixture is hot, use two spoons (or better yet, two melon ballers or two semi-spherical tsp measures) to pinch a portion of the mixture, forcing it into a ball shape. Lower the two spoons of mixture into the ice water before separating them. The ball of mozzarella should fall out (it may need a little help) and will firm up almost immediately. Leave the ball of mozzarella in the cold water and repeat the process until you have no more mixture left.

While the mozzarella is chilling, prepare the marinade.

To Make the Marinade
Mix all the ingredients together in a jar, tub or deli pot. Using your hand, carefully remove the mozzarella balls from the water and place in the marinade. Cover with a lid and place in the fridge for minimum 4 hours or up to a week.

To Make the Pesto Dressing
Place all the ingredients in the cup of a high speed blender and blitz until smooth. Set aside.

To Make the Pasta Salad
Boil the pasta in salted water and drain once cooked but al dente. Cover with cold water and allow to chill for 5 minutes.

Toss together all the salad ingredients and dress with the pesto dressing. Top with the mozzarella balls and serve with a good grind of black pepper and a final drizzle of olive oil.

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