This Tri Color Pasta Salad Recipe is made with tri-color rotini, mozarella cheese, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and a homemade Italian dressing. It takes 20 minutes to quick make and is a great addition for any summer gathering.
This Tri Color Pasta Salad Recipe is one of my favorite things to make ahead. I love serving it as a side dish to a meat that we are grilling (I highly suggest this flavorful grilled chicken). And I also love serving it as a main dish for hot summer nights. I’ll just make sure to add an extra protein on top of it (diced chicken breast or extra pepperoni).
This is a really simple recipe that is easy to adapt if you have a picky eater in your house. Add in the ingredients I suggest in the recipe, but also feel free to experiment by adding in your favorites!
This is the perfect pasta salad to experiment with when it comes to ingredients. I hope you enjoy it!
Ingredients for the Pasta Salad
- Tri Color Pasta: if you aren’t able to find tri color pasta, you could substitute for any other regular pasta.
- Cubed Mozzarella Cheese: I suggest using fresh mozzarella and cutting it up into cubes. You could also use mozzarella pearls or another cheese of choice. You can also add in cubed sharp cheddar or cubed pepper jack cheese. If you prefer grated or crumbly cheese, you could substitute with parmesan cheese or feta cheese.
- Cherry Tomatoes: chopped in half cherry grape tomatoes give the perfect brightness to this pasta salad.
- Fresh Basil Leaves: do your best to find fresh basil leaves for this pasta salad. It really makes the dish!
Ingredients for the Italian Salad Dressing
- Avocado Oil: this is my oil of preference. You could totally use olive oil instead.
- Balsamic Vinegar: this will give the dish a ton of flavor. You could also substitute this with a red wine vinegar.
- Lemon Juice: fresh squeezed is the best! But if you are in a pinch, you can use pre-squeezed lemon juice in a bottle as well
- Garlic: freshly minced garlic gives the best flavor. But already minced works great too!
- Italian Seasoning: traditional Italian seasoning is a mix of dried basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, marjoram and sage.
- Black Pepper
Cooking the Noodles Tip
Make sure you cook your pasta to al dente. You don’t want to overcook your pasta or else you’ll have a smooshy pasta salad.
What is Tri Color Pasta?
Tri Color pasta is three different shades of rotini pasta. Typically you’ll find a white pasta, green pasta and orange pasta.
Can I make the Tri Color Pasta the night before?
Absolutely! In fact, I find that the flavor is even better the second day. Simply save a few tablespoons of the dressing to stir in the next day.
Doing so will ensure you aren’t serving up a dry pasta salad. This is the perfect classic pasta salad recipe that you can make a day ahead.
How to Make Tri Color Pasta Salad
Start by making the the dressing. Add all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk together.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
Drain the cooked pasta and rinse with cool water.
Add the pasta to a large serving bowl and add in the tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil.
Pour your dressing over the top of the pasta and serve.
Serve as a side dish to your favorite grilled meats. This delicious grilled chicken makes the perfect pair!
Serve the pasta salad as the main course. Top it with pepperoni for a protein and serve alongside a slice of french bread.
Other Add Ins
This is a fun pasta salad that you can easily add other ingredients to. Pick a few of your favorites and add them in! A few of my favorites are:
- Green Bell Pepper
- Red Bell Pepper
- Green Olives
- Black Olives
- Kalamata Olives
- Artichoke Hearts
- Mini Pepperoni
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Pine Nuts
Tri Color Pasta Salad
Ingredients for the Pasta Salad
- ½ pound dried tri color pasta
- 1 cup cubed mozzarella
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes cut in half
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves finely chopped
Ingredients for the Italian Dressing
- ¼ cup avocado oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- In a small bowl add the avocado oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Whisk until all of the ingredients are incorporated. Set aside. You can also add these ingredients to a mason jar and shake to incorporate
- Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package.
- Drain the cooked pasta and rinse with cool water.
- Add the cooled pasta to a large bowl. Add in the tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil.
- Pour in your dressing and stir. Serve immediately or refrigerate until you're ready to serve.