This tri-color rotini pasta salad is served cold, making it perfect for summertime gatherings. It features my popular spinach basil green sauce, which uses a whole bag of spinach (!) and provides vibrant green color and a pesto-like flavor. Toss cooked and cooled tri-color rotini with the homemade sauce along with cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, and mini mozzarella balls for a nutritious and delicious cold pasta salad.
Tri-color Pasta Salad
- 1 lb tri-color rotini pasta
- 3 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 lb mini mozzarella balls (or mozzarella pearls)
- 7 oz jar oil-packed chopped sun-dried tomatoes, removed and drained from the oil
- 6 oz bag baby spinach
- 1 packed cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Prepare a bowl of ice water.
- Bring 4-6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Once boiling, add the spinach and basil and blanch for 30 seconds until the greens are vibrant.
- Immediately transfer the greens to the ice water using a slotted spoon. Set aside.
- In the same pot of boiling water, add 1 tbsp of salt. Then, add the rotini pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente.
- Drain the pasta in a colander and run it under cold water for about a minute until the pasta is completely cooled. Set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, continue to prepare the sauce. Heat the olive oil over low-medium heat in a small frying pan. Cook the garlic and red pepper flakes in the olive oil until garlic is lightly golden brown, about 2 minutes.
- Squeeze out most of the excess water from the blanched spinach and basil using your hands.
- In a food processor fitted with an S blade, combine the blanched spinach and basil, sauteed garlic with red pepper flakes and olive oil, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, and a generous shake of salt and pepper.
- Blend until the sauce is smooth with no lumps.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta, cherry tomatoes, mini mozzarella balls, sun-dried tomatoes, and the spinach basil sauce.
- Use mixing spoons to combine everything until the ingredients are all well coated in the sauce.
- Serve cold or at room temperature.
How long does pasta salad last?
You can store this cold pasta salad in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days.
Food safety tip: If serving cold pasta salad at a cookout, it is vital to keep it cold to prevent foodborne illness. Keep pasta salad cold at or below 40°F when serving.
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