Rainbow Pasta Salad Recipe

This colorful pasta salad scales up for potlucks, and works well for vegetarians and folks who can’t have eggs or mayonnaise. Leftovers make a quick lunch entree, too.

Quantities for the vegetables and feta are not specified here. They depend on the volume of pasta, appearance, and personal preference for the flavors — it’s a balance. Don’t overdo any one ingredient – the flavors are strong. The key is to keep the pasta as the main attraction, create an enticing, colorful appearance, and for each bite to have a variety of flavors.


  • Tri-color rotini
  • Small red onion
  • 2-3 colors of bell pepper (the “small sweet peppers” are pretty, but not as flavorful)
  • Small tub of feta
  • Small tin wedged or sliced black olives (California, not kalamata)
  • 1-2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • Cherry or pear tomatoes


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider or red wine vinegar


Cook the pasta slightly more than al dente and drain in a colander.

While the water boils and the pasta cooks and drains, prepare the salad ingredients and the dressing. Dice the onion and peppers. Chop the feta into small pieces.

Dump the drained pasta into a big bowl, pour the dressing over the pasta, and toss thoroughly. Setting the tomatoes aside, add the vegetables — not too much of any one ingredient, and toss thoroughly again. Chill, for hours if possible.

Just before heading out to the potluck, or 30 minutes before the meal, slice cherry tomatoes in half, add to the salad, and toss again.