Tri color pasta salad is a quick and easy-to-make pasta recipe. When summer comes, Italian pasta salads are the ideal dish: quick, fresh and complete!
For a great result, all you need to do is follow a few simple steps and, most importantly, have the right ingredients.
Good quality cherry and/or datterini tomatoes of different colors, excellent extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil. Finally, choose a high-quality pasta.
The important thing is that it’s short pasta because it cooks better when al dente. We chose farfalle pasta, but you can use whatever size you prefer. Such as fusilli or penne, for example.
If the tomatoes are ripe to the right point and in season, their intense flavor, enhanced by the excellent extra virgin olive oil, is enough to have an excellent dish.
For this easy tri color pasta salad recipe, you don’t need to add any other ingredients! It’s a simple but extraordinary Italian dressing that enhances the two main ingredients of Mediterranean cuisine: extra virgin olive oil and tomatoes!
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How to Make Tri Color Pasta Salad
- Prep Time: 5 Min
- Cook Time: 12 Min
- Yields: 4
Step 1) – Prepare the dressing first, which should rest for at least 20 minutes.
Wash and dry the tomatoes. Then cut them in half. The larger ones into four pieces. Do not make pieces too small.
Season the tomatoes with plenty of extra virgin olive oil (about 3 tablespoons according to your taste) and a little fine salt.
Step 2) – Wash and dry the fresh basil leaves. Then chop them coarsely with your hands.
We recommend using plenty of them, at least 10 to 12 leaves. This will make this cold pasta salad fragrant and rich in flavor.
Add the basil to the seasoned tomatoes. Stir and set aside.
Let the dressing sit for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally with a spoon. This way the tomatoes will bring out their juices and the basil will release its fresh scent.
Step 3) – Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the coarse salt.
Remember that you need 1 liter (4 cups) of water with 10 g (3/4 tablespoon) of coarse salt per 100 g (3.50 oz) of dry pasta.
Pour in the pasta and cook according to the cooking time described on the package. Typically, farfalle pasta has a 12-minute cooking time when cooked al dente.
Step 4) – Drain pasta al dente and place in a large salad bowl.
Season with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, mix well and let cool.
If you are in a hurry and cannot wait to let it cool or think it’s not al dente enough, after draining it, run it under cold water to stop the cooking.
For more information on this trick, see the paragraph below, “How to Drain and Cool Pasta.”
Step 5) – When the pasta has cooled, add the Italian dressing of red cherry tomatoes, yellow datterini and fresh basil leaves.
Tri Color Pasta Salad is ready and now you can enjoy it!
How to Store Pasta Salad
You can store a pasta salad in the refrigerator for up to 2 days in an airtight container.
Freezing is not recommended.
How to Drain and Cool the Pasta To Make Tri Color Pasta Salad
The success of a good pasta salad depends not only on the quality of the ingredients, but also on cooking and cooling.
For this type of preparation, the pasta should be drained a little more al dente than the cooking time indicated on the package. About 2 minutes less.
If you are not in a hurry, it would be better not to run the pasta under cold water to cool it. It’s better to drain it well and let it cool in a container. Then mix it with a little olive oil so that it doesn’t stick.
Why is it better to cool pasta at room temperature and not under a stream of cold water when making pasta salad? Because this would remove the starch layer of the pasta, which is needed to bind the dressings. Without it the pasta would lose texture and flavor.
However, if you cannot wait, cool the pasta under a jet of cold water, taking care to drain it very well and adding a little more salt than normal to the cooking water.
Which Tomatoes to Use to Make Tri Color Pasta Salad?
For this recipe we used a mix of Cherry and Datterini tomatoes, which are very common in Italy.
Of course, you can use any type of tomato, as long as they are small. Even grape tomatoes are fine.
The important thing is that they do not have many seeds and are not very watery. But they must have firm, flavorful flesh.
As we said, the most important thing for this pasta salad is the quality of the tomatoes. They must be ripe, flavorful, and fresh in season.
What are “Datterini” Tomatoes?
Datterini tomatoes are characterized by their sweet and rich flavor. They are small in size and elongated in shape.
Like cherry tomatoes, Datterini tomatoes have high acidity, ripening into a savory sweetness with a higher sugar level than most other varieties.
Bush tomato plants produce fruit in clusters of a dozen units, which ripen variably within the cluster.
The name Datterini means “little dates” in Italian, to allude to the extremely sweet flavor and small size of this variety. You can find red and yellow varieties.
Datterini tomatoes are excellent eaten fresh and raw, used especially to prepare bruschetta and salads.
Just add them to salads to add a touch of color and sweetness. Eat them fresh along with cold cuts and soft cheeses.
Although they are best eaten raw, Datterini tomatoes can also be used cooked.
They are very flavorful and perfect for making a delicious tomato sauce.
You can find Datterini Tomatoes also canned, very convenient and practical for cooked recipes.