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Whip up a speedy summer favorite: Easy Italian Pasta Salad. Spiral rotini pasta, cherry tomatoes, red onion, black olives, and mozarella balls dressed in Italian flavors, ready in minutes.
A favourite recipe in our family, this quick tri colored rotini pasta salad makes for a quick and easy camping & road trip meal. It’s also perfect for summer picnics, potlucks or even dinner, when it’s too hot to cook.
This will easily become an essential summer meal in your family too.
Summer is the time for epic family adventures, which leaves little time to make involved recipes.
Which is why this cold pasta recipe is ideal. We’ve found that using a ready made Italian dressing is the way to go. Especially if you need to whip up a quick last minute meal, for the hungry hoards.
We’ve found it’s also a great way to use up some leftover pasta, veggies & meat in the fridge. Plus it’s so easy to substitute ingredients & dressings to your family’s tastes.
Quick Tri Colored Rotoni Pasta Salad
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Ingredients You’ll Need
This pasta salad recipe only requires a handful of simple ingredients:
- Tri-color rotini pasta
- Cherry tomatoes
- Perlini mozzarella balls
- Can of sliced black olives
- Large yellow bell pepper
- Large red onion
- Italian parsley
- Italian dressing
- Salt and pepper to taste
Here are a few of our go-to substitutions & additions you can try:
- Instead of salami: Smoked tofu, roast chicken, cooked spicy sausage
- Other veggies to add / substitute: Cucumbers, sweet potato cubes, green onions, orange or red peppers, artichoke heart pieces, broccoli, chickpeas
- Switch out the pasta: Cooked bow tie pasta, penne, radiatore, rotelle (wagon wheels), or tortellini. Pasta with grooves will hold the dressing better.
- Best store bought Italian Dressing: Olive Garden Signature Italian Dressing, or Primal Kitchen Italian (their balsalmic or greek dressings also work well with this pasta dish).
How to Make This Easy Italian Pasta Salad Recipe
- Cook the pasta “al dente” according to the directions on the package. Salt the water used to cook the pasta, this will help give the pasta extra flavor. Do not overcook, or the pasta will get mushy.
- Rinse the cooked pasta with cold water for a minute or two to cool it down and stop the cooking.
- Let the pasta reach room temperature. Make sure the pasta has cooled completely before assembling the salad, as the veggies will lose their crunch if it’s still too warm.
- In a large bowl, combine all pasta salad ingredients and toss the dressing.
- Eat right away, or cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving.
Tips & Notes
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
- I don’t recommend freezing the salad as the texture will be mushy once it’s thawed.
- If packing for camping / road trips, we like to keep the dressing & tomatoes separate & add right before serving. Make sure to keep in a cold cooler.
- Most tri-color rotini come in 12-ounce boxes. If your pasta comes in a 16-ounce box, feel free to use it all and increase the amount of dressing to 1 cup or to taste.
- Any color of bell pepper can be used in this recipe.
- I like the perlini-sized mozzarella for this recipe as it is similar in size to the other ingredients. You can also cut fresh mozzarella into ¼ inch pieces.
- I prefer slicing the salami into pieces myself, so I can control the thickness of the meat. However, pre-sliced salami can be used instead.
- This salad can easily be made vegetarian by leaving out the salami. For a vegan version leave out the salami and cheese, and up your veggies. We like smoked tofu as a substitute for meat.
More summer friendly recipes:
- Fun Road Trip Breakfast Ideas & Recipes
- 100+ Easy Road Trip Meal ideas the whole family will love
- Road Trip Snacks don’t leave home without
- Stress-Free camping meals for kids (adults will love)
- Quick Foil Packet Recipes By Grill or Campfire
I hope you enjoy this delicious and zesty cold pasta salad with Italian dressing. Adding this to your regular summer meals rotation will save you time & be tasty.