This Tri-Color Pasta Salad With Italian Dressing is made with rotini, Italian dressing, mozzarella cheese, bell peppers, black olives, and cherry tomatoes. You’ll be eating this pasta salad all summer long because the variations are endless, plus it’s so easy to make!
This pasta salad serves 12 people as a side dish and costs about $10.68 to make. That’s just $0.89 per serving!
I don’t know about you, but once May hits and school is almost over, I start getting the itch for slower days of no schedules, lots of pool time, and less time heating my oven in the kitchen.
Today I am sharing a recipe with you that will help you do just that. This Easy Pasta Salad is so easy to put together you will be in and out of your kitchen in no time and back out at the pool where we all want to be.
This tri-color pasta salad is easy to make and full of fresh veggies. It just screams summertime. Summertime means potlucks, BBQs, and pool parties.
This pasta salad is the best dish to bring to any one of those parties because it is easy to put together, and everyone loves it! Add some protein to it, and you have an instant main dish.
Ingredients and Cost
Per Serving Cost: $0.89
Recipe Cost: $10.68
- 1 pound tri-color rotini pasta – $1.28
- 2 cups Italian Dressing – $0.92
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese – $2.11
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes – $2.88
- 8 ounces can olives – $1.53
- 1 green bell pepper – $0.58
- 1 red bell pepper – $1.38
NOTE: The recipe prices are calculated by using grocery store websites. The actual cost of the recipe will vary depending on what ingredients you already have.
- First, cook and drain the pasta. Then, place it back into the pot and add one cup of Italian dressing. Adding some of the dressing while the pasta is still warm will help the pasta absorb the dressing.
- Cover the pot with a lid and cook to room temperature.
- Next, add the remaining ingredients and pasta into a large bowl and toss with the remaining Italian dressing.
- Refrigerate for one hour. Then season with salt and pepper before serving.
***For complete instructions and a recipe video, see the recipe card below.
Pasta Salad Recipe Variations
I enjoy this salad literally all summer long. I love making a big batch of it at the beginning of the week and then eat it all week long. It gets more and more flavorful as it sits in the refrigerator. Below are some of my favorite add-ins or variations to this Tri-Color Pasta Salad recipe.
- Pasta: While I love using tricolor rotini, some other good pasta choices are bow ties, macaroni, medium or small shells, orzo, and Radiatore pasta.
- Meat: rotisserie chicken or shredded chicken, mini pepperoni, salami, ham, and crispy bacon. Note that bacon is best added right before serving and when you know all of the salad will be eaten in one sitting, like at pot lucks. This will ensure that the bacon doesn’t get soft or gummy.
- Vegetables: cucumbers (deseeded so that the pasta salad doesn’t get watery), blanched or roasted broccoli, green onions, artichoke hearts, frozen and thawed corn, sliced zucchini, sliced yellow squash, or red onions.
- Beans: garbanzo beans (my favorite!), red kidney beans, white beans, and black beans.
- Herbs: chopped fresh basil, parsley, dill, chives, and cilantro.
- Cheese: cubbed cheddar cheese, Havarti, or Monterey Jack cheese. Also, shredded cheese like Parmesan, crumbled feta cheese, or mini mozzarella cheese balls work well, too.
SERVE: You can keep the pasta salad out for about two hours before it will need to be refrigerated.
STORE: The finished salad will keep covered for about 4-5 days in the refrigerator.
FREEZE: Frozen and thawed pasta salad can be a little on the soft side, but you can freeze it. Place the finished pasta salad in a freezer-safe container or Ziploc bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
DEFROST: Defrost at room temperature for about 3 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Give everything a good stir before serving.
Yes! You can make pasta salad in advance, which makes it perfect for those busy nights. Just keep the second cup of dressing separate and toss it in 10 minutes before serving the pasta salad.
When storing it in an airtight container, pasta salad will stay fresh for 4-5 days.
This pasta salad with Italian dressing is the perfect companion for anything you put on the grill, in my opinion. My Loaded Italian Sausage Burgers are a great alternative to a traditional hamburger and do not lack flavor. Pair the sausage burgers with this salad, and you have a home run of a meal.
These Grilled Pork Chops are juicy and tender. This would also be a great side dish for the pork chops. BBQ Chicken Drumsticks are also a great choice to serve with pasta salad.
The best kinds of pasta for pasta salad are short shapes such are rotini, farfalle, and penne. They have plenty of nooks and crannies to soak up the dressing and herbs.
More Salad Recipes
- Southwest Pasta Salad
- Italian Pasta Salad
- Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
- Poppy Seed Pasta Salad
- Pistachio Salad
- Italian Salad
- Cranberry Chicken Salad
- Cobb Salad
- Creamy Cucumber Salad
- Spinach Salad
- Black Bean and Corn Salad
- Garden Bean Salad
Tri Color Pasta Salad
- 1 pound tri-color rotini pasta
- 2 cups Italian Dressing
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese diced
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved
- 8 ounces can pitted and sliced black olives drained
- 1 green bell pepper chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- Salt and pepper
- Cook the pasta as per the package instructions.
- Drain the pasta into a colander and then dump it back into the pot.
DRESS AND COOL PASTA:
- Add 1 cup of the Italian dressing and stir until the pasta absorbs the dressing.
- Cover the pot with a lid and cool for 30 minutes at room temperature.
MIX PASTA SALAD:
- In a large bowl, add the pasta, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, black olives, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and the remaining 1 cup of Italian dressing.
- Toss gently, then refrigerate for at least one hour.
- Season with salt and pepper, and then transfer the salad to a serving bowl.
- Serve and enjoy.