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Tri-Color Pasta Salad

Brighten up your summer picnics and potlucks with this vibrant tri-color pasta salad!

Tender rotini pasta is tossed with a medley of colorful veggies. Creamy fresh mozzarella pearls add richness, while a zesty Caesar dressing brings all the flavors together.

Tri color rotini pasta salad with creamy dressing with fresh herbs, pesto, veggies, and cheese served in a white bowl.
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This easy pasta salad is a breeze to make. Customize it with your favorite mix-ins! For a heartier dish, I like adding diced salami or pepperoni.

And sometimes I throw in chopped bell peppers and feta for a Greek-inspired twist. The possibilities are endless!

Why You’ll Love This Tri-Color Pasta Salad

Vibrant Color: You may not think colored pasta would make much difference. And as far as taste goes, you’d be right. However, it dials up the aesthetic aspects of the pasta salad to party-worthy levels.

Flavor Explosion: Caesar dressing, veggies, and Parmesan always go well together. This salad also has a savory basil pesto to amp up the flavor!

Picnic Perfection: This pasta salad is ideal for outdoor picnics and other summer gatherings. For ultimate convenience, serve it chilled or at room temperature. 

Tri color pasta salad with with fresh herbs, pesto, veggies, cheese and tri color rotini pasta tossed in caesar salad tossed in glass bowl.


  • Tri-Color Rotini Pasta: Any pasta works, but you really need tri-colored for the full experience.
  • Creamy Caesar Dressing: For coating every twist and turn of the pasta with tangy, garlicky goodness. 
  • Grape Tomatoes: These little guys add juicy bursts of fresh sweetness to every bite. 
  • Black Olives: Briny and bold, they add a savory depth to the dish. 
  • Red Onion: For crunch and a bold, earthy onion flavor. 
  • Shredded Parmesan: Its nutty, salty taste pairs perfectly with the other ingredients. 
  • Fresh Basil Leaves: For fragrance and freshness. Their summery flavor will brighten the whole salad. 
  • Basil Pesto: This robust, herby pesto will take your salad to the next level. 
  • Seasonings: You can never go wrong with kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. 
  • Optional Add-Ins: Use any of the following to elevate your salad: toasted pine nuts, blanched broccoli, or diced cucumber. 
Serving of tri color pasta salad in white bowl.

How to Make Tri-Color Pasta Salad

Making this pasta salad boils down to the following 7 steps: 

1. Cook the pasta. Follow the instructions on the pack to cook it until al dente. Then, drain it well. 

2. Toss with the dressing. While the pasta is still warm, toss it with 2/3 cup of Caesar dressing. Then, let it cool to room temperature. 

3. Add the seasonings and veggies. Add everything except the pesto and optional add-ins. Toss to combine. 

4. Add the pesto and add-ins. Stir in the pesto until the pasta is evenly coated. Then, fold in the pine nuts, broccoli, and cucumber (if using). 

5. Adjust. Taste and add more seasonings if needed. If the pasta is too dry, add the remaining 1/3 cup of dressing. 

6. Refrigerate. Cover and refrigerate the salad for 1 to 8 hours. 

7. Garnish and serve. Immediately before serving, garnish with extra fresh basil (if desired). Then, toss well, and enjoy! 

Tri color pasta salad with  tri-colored rotini pasta,creamy Caesar dressing with fresh herbs, pesto, veggies, and cheese served in a white bowl.

Tips for the Best Tri-Color Pasta Salad

Here are a few tips to keep in mind: 

  • Pick any pasta you like. This recipe is made with tri-colored pasta, but you can make it with almost any pasta type in a pinch. Stick to short shapes for the best results. 
  • Don’t rinse! Normally, pasta salad recipes require you to rinse the pasta in cool water. For this one, you’ll simply drain it, then toss it with the dressing while it’s warm. 
  • Use high-quality dressing. I recommend Newman’s Own or Ken’s Steakhouse. Daiya also makes a delicious dairy-free version. 
  • Make it your own. Good options for add-ins include mini pepperoni, diced peppers, green onions, and sunflower seeds. 
  • Don’t like Caesar? Use Italian dressing instead! I love Olive Garden’s Italian dressing in this pasta salad. 
Bowl filled with serving of tricolor pasta coated in creamy caesar dressing.

What to Serve with Tri-Color Pasta Salad

Tri-color pasta salad goes well with most things. I like it best with typically “summer” meals, though. Try it the next time you have any of these: 

How to Store

This pasta salad tastes best a few hours after making it. If you have leftovers, though, you can keep them for 3 to 4 days. 

To Store: Store the leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge. Before serving, check to see if they are dry. If so, add a bit more dressing and stir well. 

Tri-Color Pasta Salad

Cuisine: American


Prep time


Cooking time




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This tri-color pasta salad is guaranteed to wow a crowd! Loaded with veggies, mozzarella, and a tangy Caesar dressing, it’s full pf delicious flavor.


  • 1 (12-ounce) package tri-color rotini pasta

  • 1 cup creamy Caesar dressing, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

  • 1 (6-ounce) can black olives, drained and chopped

  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced

  • 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into strips

  • 1/4 cup basil pesto

  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (optional, can sub sunflower seeds)

  • 1 cup fresh broccoli florets, blanched (optional)

  • 1/2 cup diced cucumber (optional)


  • Cook the rotini pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain well.
  • While pasta is still warm, toss with 2/3 cup of the Caesar dressing in a large bowl. Let cool to room temperature.
  • Add the salt, pepper, garlic powder, tomatoes, olives, red onion, Parmesan cheese, and basil to the pasta. Toss to combine.
  • Stir in the pesto until pasta is evenly coated. If using, gently fold in the toasted pine nuts, broccoli, and cucumber.
  • Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. If the pasta salad seems dry, mix in the remaining 1/3 cup Caesar dressing.
  • Cover and refrigerate the pasta salad for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.
  • Just before serving, garnish with additional fresh basil leaves if desired. Toss well and serve chilled or at room temperature. Enjoy!

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Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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