Curried Pasta Salad: No Mayo Here

I’m just going to come out and say it, even if it is the day after Memorial Day and it may reveal me to be un-American: I hate mayo.

It’s not some kind of partially vegan habit or a holier-than-thou attitude towards a high fat food. I’m not even thinking about the egg yolks generally hidden in the ubiquitous spread. There’s just something that makes me squeamish about mayo. I guess it’s the taste and texture, mainly.

I don’t eat mayo on my sandwiches, I don’t like it lurking in dips, and I don’t appreciate it as an adhesive for pasta salad.

I suppose I’ve never had real mayonnaise. By which I mean homemade and not from a jar labeled “Real.” Unless genuine mayonnaise was snuck into some dish at a restaurant, the only kinds of mayo I know I’ve tried were produced in factories: the real-ish kind made of oil and eggs, vinegar, and lemon juice; the lower fat versions made with traditional ingredients plus fillers; and the vegan varieties in which the egg is replaced by some other kind of emulsifier.

Julia Child calls it a “gastronomic delight” to whip up oil, egg yolks, and lemon juice into a creamy accompaniment in one’s own kitchen. In her memoir, My Life in France (required reading, foodies) Julia Child describes herself as a mad scientist, discovering the secrets of mayonnaise. “By the end of my research,” she writes, “I believe, I had written more on the subject of mayonnaise than anyone in history.” One day, perhaps, in honor of my idol, I will try her foolproof method to make my own.

Until then, however, I am likely to continue avoiding the mayo, leading me to develop recipes like this one, which uses tofu to create a creamy texture, and thus has less fat, additional protein, and can be vegan, if you wish.

(Vegan) Curried Pasta Salad

(yields enough for a crowd at a summer picnic)

1. Cook 1 lb of whole wheat spiral pasta according to package directions and then run under cold water. Transfer to a large bowl for mixing the salad.

2. Lightly steam two small heads of broccoli, cut into florets (three minutes). As soon as they are bright green and just beginning to get tender, quickly run them under cold water. Drain and dump on top of the pasta.

3. Prepare other optional ingredients and add to the mixing bowl: 1 can of chick peas (garbanzo beans) rinsed; chopped veggies such as red pepper, celery, or green onions; raisins (which everyone seems to like except me); small cubes of cheese if you’re not making a vegan salad.

4. Blend to a smooth sauce:

  • 1 package silken tofu (or, regular with additional water added to thin)
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 tsp vinegar—or more, to taste (I like cider vinegar)
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 tsp curry powder (or more, to taste)
  • 2 tsp agave syrup (vegan sweetener) or honey (if you’re not going vegan)
  • salt and pepper to taste

5. Scrape all the sauce onto the pasta and veggies.

6. Chop one apple (I used granny smith) and add to the mixing bowl.

7. Mix well. Allow the flavors to merge, or whatever it is they do, for an hour in the fridge or on the counter. Check for texture and taste. Tofu sucks up a lot of moisture. You may want to add additional water, oil, salt, pepper, vinegar, lemon juice and/or sweetener.


  1. I hate mayo, too! We seem to be in the vast minority so I had to chime in & share my support. It’s a little embarrassing, however, that I’ve never thought to use silken tofu as a replacement — what a great idea! Can’t wait to try it this summer. Oh, to have potato salad again…

  2. Thanks! I got the idea from mayo replacement recipes in the Moosewood cookbook. The tofu worked out great, even though I had to use regular instead of silken–just needed sufficient moisture (vinegar and water) and oil.

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