Tri-Color Pasta Salad Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep/Total Time: 20 min.
Our tri-color pasta salad is bursting with summer flavors and is easy to pull off for your next cookout. Grocery store pasta salad has nothing on this recipe.

Updated: Jul. 16, 2024

The summer season and pasta salads go hand in hand, much like fall and pumpkin desserts. Pasta salads are quintessential at barbecues and picnics, and make for a great week of summer lunches.

This particular tri-color pasta salad recipe is vibrant, wholesome, and loaded with summer vegetables and colorful rotini tossed together in a creamy Italian dressing. After you get the basics down, this colorful summer staple is incredibly adaptable, just add your favorite meats, cheeses and different veggies.

Ingredients for Tri-Color Pasta Salad

  • Tri-color spiral pasta: The best pasta for pasta salad is rotini pasta. It has a bunch of nooks and crannies that hold on to the dressing perfectly. I also love how easily you can pierce a fork through rotini, so you can load the utensil with all the components of this salad for a perfect bite over and over.
  • Broccoli florets: You’ll need only the florets for this tri-color rotini pasta salad recipe, but save the broccoli stems for stir-fries, casseroles or frittata recipes.
  • Grape tomatoes: Wash and drain your teeny tiny grape tomatoes very well before tossing them in this salad. If you can’t find grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes work in a pinch.
  • Olives: A can of pre-pitted ripe olives saves a lot of time instead of pitting them all yourself. Don’t forget to drain the olives before using them!
  • Salad dressing: Look for an Italian salad dressing that includes roasted red peppers and Parmesan. Kraft has a great one.

Directions

Step 1: Cook the pasta and broccoli

In a Dutch oven, cook the pasta according to the package’s directions, adding the broccoli florets during the last two minutes of cooking. Drain and rinse the pasta and broccoli florets in cold water.

Step 2: Add the vegetables

Transfer the pasta and broccoli florets to a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, olives, salt and pepper.

Step 3: Toss with the dressing

Drizzle the pasta and vegetables with the salad dressing. Gently toss everything together to coat. Cover the bowl with storage wrap and chill until serving.

Recipe Variations

  • Add your favorite mix-ins: Try adding salami, mozzarella, feta cheese, or crunchy veggies like bell peppers, carrots or cucumbers. Or, turn this pasta salad into a main dish by tossing in some precooked shrimp or chicken.
  • Use another type of pasta: While one of the defining characteristics of this tri-color pasta salad recipe is the multi-colored noodles, you can swap in the short pasta shape of your choice, whether it’s farfalle (bow tie), radiatore, gemelli or orecchiette. Check out our guide to pasta shapes for more ideas.
  • Swap the dressing: Either Caesar or green goddess dressing would create a creamy and flavorful variation. Otherwise, check out our picks for the best Italian dressing brands if you want to make sure you’re picking up a great bottle at the store.
  • Create more flavor: After tasting the pasta salad, tap into your inner chef and decide whether the salad needs any more herbs or spices. You could sprinkle in Italian seasonings, garlic powder or red chili flakes, to name a few. Even a squeeze of fresh lemon would brighten the flavors.
  • Enhance the texture: If you like a bit of crunch in your pasta salads, scatter sunflower seeds, toasted walnuts, flaked almonds or croutons after the dressing is tossed in.

How to Store Tri-Color Pasta Salad

To follow food safety guidelines, leave this tri-color rotini pasta salad out for only up to two hours at a time. Transfer any pasta salad leftovers to an airtight container. Leftover salad can be kept in the fridge for up to four days.

Can you make tri-color pasta salad ahead of time?

Absolutely! In fact, tri-color rotini pasta salad is probably best made a little ahead of time so the flavors have a chance to meld together. Keep some extra dressing on hand for last-minute tossing, in case the pasta salad gets dry.

How long will tri-color pasta salad last?

Tri-color pasta salad will last for up to four days in the fridge when stored properly. It will dry out a bit as it sits, so keep extra dressing on hand.

Tri-Color Pasta Salad Tips

What can you serve with tri-color pasta salad?

Pasta salad is a cookout staple, so any grilling recipes would be a perfect place to start. Otherwise, serve it as a delicious accompaniment to an awesome sandwich like this Cobb salad sub or these hoagie recipes.

Why is my tri-color pasta salad dry?

Pasta salad dries up a bit as it hangs out in the fridge. If needed, drizzle on a little more dressing and toss the pasta salad before eating. If the pasta is dry, you most likely undercooked it. Noodles for pasta salad recipes must be cooked perfectly, not undercooked or overcooked.

Watch how to Make Tri-Color Pasta Salad

Tri-Color Pasta Salad

Prep Time 20 min
Yield 14 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 package (12 ounces) tricolor spiral pasta
  • 4 cups fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 can (6 ounces) pitted ripe olives, drained
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups Italian salad dressing with roasted red pepper and Parmesan

Directions

  1. In a Dutch oven, cook pasta according to package directions, adding the broccoli during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain and rinse in cold water.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, olives, salt and pepper. Drizzle with salad dressing; toss to coat. Chill until serving.

Nutrition Facts

3/4 cup: 149 calories, 4g fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 513mg sodium, 24g carbohydrate (4g sugars, 2g fiber), 4g protein.

Tackle gatherings with a bright side dish. This tri-color pasta salad with broccoli, tomatoes, olives and a hardworking dressing is one of the easiest cold pasta salad recipes you could take. —Amanda Cable, Boxford, Massachusetts
Recipe Creator