Multi-Color Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad
Stephanie Lang, MS, RDN, CDN
Total Time: 30 min
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 15 min
Servings: 6 (1 1/2 cups each)

Nutrition Highlights (per serving)

361 calories
10g fat
53g carbs
15g protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 (1 1/2 cups each)
Amount per serving  
Calories 361
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 17mg 6%
Sodium 308mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 53g 19%
Dietary Fiber 7g 25%
Total Sugars 5g  
Includes 0g Added Sugars 0%
Protein 15g  
Vitamin D 0mcg 0%
Calcium 157mg 12%
Iron 3mg 17%
Potassium 508mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Pasta salad is easy to make in bulk and pack for lunch, take on a picnic, or bring to a potluck. All you have to do is boil some pasta and chop up a few raw vegetables. The more colors you can add to the salad, the better.

Colorful veggies contain anti-inflammatory plant compounds such as polyphenols and other phytochemicals that may help offset pollutant toxicity and buffer your susceptibility to disease risks associated with exposure to toxic pollutants in the environment.

Red foods like red bell peppers and tomatoes contain a phytochemical called lycopene, which may have anti-inflammatory properties and might have a protective effect against heart disease. Lycopene may also reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer among other cancers such as breast, lung, ovarian, and colon.

Ribboned basil leaves perfume the entire salad, so only a touch of olive oil and white wine vinegar is needed to make everything come together.


  • 8 oz. cavatappi
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow or orange bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small zucchini, finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons
  • 4 oz. block feta cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 1 15-oz. can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water.

  2. In a large bowl, toss together all of the ingredients with the cooked and cooled pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Variations and Substitutions

Cavatappi is a helix-shaped pasta that is great for pasta salad as it can catch the vegetables, herbs, and dressing with ​its shape. Other great pasta salad shapes include fusilli or bowtie pasta. You can use whole wheat pasta for extra fiber, or even a mix of whole wheat and white pasta for color, flavor, and texture variation. For a gluten-free, high protein and fiber variation, try quinoa instead of pasta.

This recipe works great with chickpeas instead of white beans. Play around with the vegetables—you could use fresh or frozen peas, fresh corn, chopped spinach, or finely chopped broccoli. For the cheese, you could also use a cubed ricotta salata, fresh mozzarella, or goat cheese, or try shredded Parmesan instead of the feta.

The possibilities are endless, but the main idea is to fill your pasta salad with loads of fresh, colorful vegetables and herbs, a little plant-based protein, and some healthy fats.

Cooking and Serving Tips

  • To store a bunch of fresh basil, place into a mini jar or vase and fill with water like you would a bouquet of flowers. Place a large plastic or zipped bag over the basil leaves. This helps keep the basil leaves fresh, so they do not brown immediately. Leftover basil can be used to make pesto or salad dressing, and the leaves offer a nice zing when added to sandwiches.
  • To cut the basil into ribbons, a technique known as a chiffonade, stack two to three basil leaves on top of each other and roll them up tightly. Thinly slice the leaves perpendicular to the roll.
  • To save time, you can also use your favorite bottled vinaigrette.

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Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Minich DM. A review of the science of colorful, plant-based food and practical strategies for "Eating the rainbow". J Nutr Metab. 2019;2019:2125070. Published 2019 Jun 2. doi:10.1155/2019/2125070

  2. Bacanli M, Başaran N, Başaran AA. Lycopene: Is it beneficial to human health as an antioxidant?Turk J Pharm Sci. 2017;14(3):311-318. doi:10.4274/tjps.43043