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Easy Rotini Pasta Salad Recipe – How to Make it in 8 Simple Steps

This is a close look at a plate of Rotini Pasta Salad.

Some people like creamy pasta salads that include mayonnaise or sour cream, but others do not care for mayonnaise at all. This recipe is one that you can serve to pretty much everyone, whether they like mayo or not. With its light, vinegar based dressing, the dish itself is the perfect accompaniment for a heavier meal that is based upon grilled meats.

Every cookout has a standard food selection. Of course, grilled meats or veggies are generally the stars of the show. But, to have a really great cookout, the side items have to be just as appealing. Since cookouts mostly take place in the warmer months, most people prefer side dishes that are lighter and cooler.

Easy Rotini Pasta Salad Recipe

April Freeman
Including three colors of pasta and studded with black olives, our recipe for Easy Rotini Pasta Salad is light, tasty, and beautiful. If you need a recipe for a pasta salad for your barbeque dinner, this recipe will be a crowd favorite.
Prep Time 15 mins
Refrigeration Time 3 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 15 mins
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 Servings


  • Pint Mason Jar with Lid
  • Medium-Sized Saucepan
  • Colander
  • Large bowl
  • Wooden Spoon


  • ½ cup Olive Oil
  • ¼ cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Water
  • 2 teaspoons Honey
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • 6 tbsp Freshly Grated Parmesan divided
  • ¾ teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • ¾ teaspoon Dried Parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • 1 pinch Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 pinch Black Pepper
  • 16 ounces Tri-Color Garden Rotini from a box
  • cup Sliced Black Olives


  • Pour the oil, vinegar, honey, and lemon juice into a pint mason jar with a tightly fitting lid.  Add half of the Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, and the pepper into the jar. Cap the jar and shake all of this together to blend. Dip your finger into the dressing mixture and taste it. If it needs a little more salt or pepper, feel free to add some. If you like a bit more heat, add a few more red pepper flakes.
  • In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, bring two or three quarts of water to a boil. Add a half teaspoon of salt, and stir the pasta into the water. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Our package said to cook the rotini for 7 minutes. 
  • When the pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander, rinsing it under a stream of cool water. 
  • Put the pasta in a large bowl that has a tightly fitting lid, and gently stir in the black olives.
  • Add the rest of the Parmesan cheese. Toss the pasta and cheese mixture with about ⅔ of the dressing from the jar. Gently use a large wooden spoon to toss the pasta with the dressing mixture. 
  • Refrigerate the pasta for two or three hours. Taking the time to refrigerate the pasta before serving allows the flavors to blend and intensify. 
  • Before you serve the pasta salad, add the remainder of the dressing and a few tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Serve.
  • To store the pasta salad, store it in a container with a tightly fitting lid for up to five days.


While things like baked potatoes do work well with grilled meat, when you are eating out of doors, you need chilled food items. When you create a menu for your cookout, choose two or three grilled items, add a delicious pasta salad or a potato salad, include some sort of fruit or veggie plate, and maybe a batch of soft baked rolls. 
One great thing about focusing on refrigerated side dishes is that the only thing that you will need to worry about is grilling the meat and setting out the sides. When you make our recipe for Easy Rotini Pasta Salad, you can even make the pasta salad the day before and put it in the fridge. Then, when it’s almost time to eat, remove it from the fridge, top it with the rest of the dressing and the cheese, and set it out on the table for everyone to enjoy.
This recipe for Easy Rotini Pasta Salad might also be a good choice for a picnic. During the 1700s, picnics became something that the aristocracy of France began to enjoy. Oddly, the picnics of this time period took place indoors and included food, dancing, and raucous behavior. After the French Revolution, French aristocrats took their picnics to England where they continued the practice of picnicking in their unruly way. 
However, by the time of the early 1800s, the practice had settled into a tamer, more innocent tradition, and it trickled down to the middle classes of the families in England. At this point, the picnic turned into something that is more recognizable to modern day people. Diners carried light, cold food items outdoors where they enjoyed dining “al fresco” or in the outdoors with other families. The practice of picnicking gradually made its way across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States.
In the U.S., picnicking became more about escaping from cities and towns and enjoying the countryside than just simply creating an outdoor social interaction. Around the early 1900s, picnicking became a ubiquitous way of spending lovely days outside. In fact, manufacturers began creating specialty items to help people enjoy this way of dining. Large picnic baskets and hampers allowed diners to carry their food easily as they hiked away from civilization to enjoy their food in the fresh air and sunshine. 
Keyword Recipe, Rotini Pasta Salad, Salad

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