Box of tricolored pasta

Elevate Your Salad Game with Tri-Colored Pasta Salad

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There’s something undeniably appealing about a vibrant, colorful pasta salad loaded with fresh vegetables, cheese, and a flavorful dressing. This Tri-Colored Pasta Salad recipe takes the classic pasta salad to the next level by incorporating a rainbow of ingredients and a tangy balsamic-Dijon dressing. Perfect for picnics, potlucks, or as a side dish for your next barbecue, this salad is sure to impress. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the process of making this delicious and visually stunning dish, along with some helpful tips, variations, and even keto-friendly options.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can I make this salad ahead of time? A: Yes, this pasta salad actually tastes even better when made ahead of time, as it allows the flavors to meld together. Simply store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container and toss it well before serving.

Q: Can I customize the ingredients in this salad? A: Absolutely! Feel free to add or substitute any ingredients based on your personal preferences or what you have on hand. Some delicious additions or substitutions include grilled chicken, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, or feta cheese.

Q: Is this salad suitable for vegetarians? A: Yes, this pasta salad is vegetarian-friendly as long as you omit the pepperoni slices. You can also substitute them with vegetarian-friendly alternatives or simply load up on more vegetables and cheese.

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For the Salad:

  • 8 oz Tri-colored rotini pasta
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup bell peppers (assorted colors), diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup black olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup pepperoni slices, halved
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil leaves

For the Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


Step 1: Cook the Pasta

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the tri-colored rotini pasta and cook according to the package instructions until al dente.
  2. Once cooked, drain the pasta and rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking process. Transfer the pasta to a large mixing bowl.

Step 2: Prepare the Salad Ingredients

  1. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the rest of the salad ingredients. Halve the cherry tomatoes, dice the cucumber and bell peppers, chop the red onion, slice the black olives, cube the mozzarella cheese, and chop the fresh basil leaves.

Step 3: Make the Dressing

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, minced garlic, salt, and black pepper until well combined.

Step 4: Assemble the Salad

  1. Add the prepared vegetables, cheese, and pepperoni slices to the bowl with the cooked pasta.
  2. Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss everything together until evenly coated.

Step 5: Serve and Enjoy

  1. Once the salad is well combined, cover the bowl and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld together.
  2. Before serving, give the salad a final toss and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  3. Garnish the salad with additional fresh basil leaves, if desired, and serve chilled.

Cook Notes and Variations:

  • Protein Options: Add grilled chicken, shrimp, or tofu for a protein boost.
  • Vegetarian Variation: Omit the pepperoni slices and add extra vegetables or cheese for a vegetarian-friendly option.
  • Gluten-Free Option: Use gluten-free pasta to make this salad gluten-free.
  • Spice it Up: Add a dash of red pepper flakes or a sprinkle of chili powder for some extra heat.

Keto Versions and Low-Carb Options:

  • Low-Carb Pasta Alternatives: Substitute the tri-colored rotini pasta with spiralized zucchini noodles or shirataki noodles for a low-carb option.
  • Sugar-Free Dressing: Use a sugar-free sweetener such as erythritol or stevia in place of honey in the dressing to reduce the carbohydrate content.

healty meal, low carbs meals, keto meal

Whether you’re hosting a summer cookout, packing a picnic, or simply looking for a refreshing side dish, this Tri-Colored Pasta Salad is sure to please. With its vibrant colors, fresh flavors, and customizable ingredients, it’s the perfect addition to any meal. So grab your ingredients and get ready to impress your family and friends with this delicious and satisfying salad!

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