Nothing says Independence Day like a good old fashioned barbecue!
Most years on the fourth of July, our family gathers for our hometown parade. We watch the jets fly overhead, kicking off the start of the event. The police cars slowly drive by, sirens wailing. Then the floats arrive, with music, brilliant colors, and candy for the kids.
Following the parade we almost always head over to a friendly neighborhood barbecue. And as with most large gatherings, we need to bring a side dish or dessert.
I love to make something festive, but with three kids and a busy schedule, I don’t have a lot of time.
Enter the Red, White, and Blue Pasta Salad.
Red, White, and Blue Pasta Salad
Pasta salad is the ultimate barbecue potluck dish. It can be made ahead of time, customized to fit a variety of diets, and you generally don’t have to worry about it sitting out too long (as you would a dish with mayonnaise).
I decided to go with an Italian/Pizza themed pasta salad for the fourth of July this year. Pepperoni, olives, and mozzarella cheese are generally loved by both adults and kids alike.
To make this pasta salad extra special, I colored the noodles for a red, white, and blue pasta salad!
How to Color Noodles for a Red, White, and Blue Pasta Salad
Coloring noodles is super-easy. For this salad I used rotini, but you can use your favorite pasta. The dying process is the same.
Cook the rotini according to package directions. Rinse under cold water. Put half the cooked rotini in a gallon sized ziploc bag and the other half in a second ziploc bag.
Add blue food coloring to the first bag. For the deep blue in the photos, I used 40 drops of regular liquid food coloring.
Seal the bag and squish it around in your hands until the color is evenly distributed. Add more food coloring if necessary.
When you have the color you like, dump the colored noodles into a colander and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear. Dry the colored rotini with paper towels before adding to your salad. You don’t want to take a chance that the blue will mix with the red to make purple! That wouldn’t be very patriotic!
After you finish dying half the pasta blue, repeat the process with the rest of the pasta using red food coloring.
But Where’s the White in the Red, White, and Blue Pasta Salad?
Since you can’t really dye pasta white, I decided to use mozzarella cheese for the white in my patriotic pasta salad. Walmart carries a great 1 lb. package of Great Value mozzarella cheese that is perfect for this salad.
Unlike the round packages of national brand mozzarella cheese, the Great Value mozzarella cheese comes in a square shape, making it easy to cube for salad. That’s just a little tip to make cheese prep a little easier for you.
[Tweet “Try this yummy red, white, and blue pasta salad for #July4th. #WMTmoms”]
Finish your salad with plenty of add ins. I tried to keep to my color theme by using red bell pepper, red onion, and pepperoni. I also threw in some olives, garbanzo beans, and marinated artichoke hearts.
Finally, use a good Italian dressing to perfect your red, white, and blue pasta salad. I prefer Bernstein’s Cheese and Garlic Italian Dressing. Yummy!
Make this Fourth of July themed side dish the day before your barbecue, and you can be prepared for the holiday festivities without trying to cook something up on the day of the barbecue! Just add a little more dressing if your salad dries out overnight. Quite frankly, I think this particular dish tastes better the second day, after the flavors have a chance to meld.
Are you ready for the recipe? Here ya go! Be sure to check out my Patriotic Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes for a fun dessert, too!
Red, White, and Blue Pasta Salad Recipe
- 16 oz rotini
- 2 gallon sized ziploc bags
- Red food coloring
- Blue food coloring
- 16 oz mozzarella cheese, cubed
- 6 oz pepperoni slices, quartered
- 7.5 oz marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
- 3.5 oz sliced olives
- 15.5 oz garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- ½ of a 14 oz bottle Bernstein’s Cheese & Garlic Italian dressing (or more to taste)
- salt & pepper to taste
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse under cold water.
- Divide pasta into two equal portions and put each portion into a separate gallon sized ziplock bag.
- Add 40 drops red food coloring to the first bag, seal the bag, and squish pasta around until color is evenly distributed. Rinse red pasta in a colander under cold water until water runs clear. Dry pasta with paper towels.
- Repeat the dying process with the second bag of pasta, only using 40 drops blue food coloring.
- In a large bowl, combine red pasta, blue pasta, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, artichoke hearts, olives, garbanzo beans, red onion, and red bell pepper. Add ½ bottle of Bernstein's Cheese & Garlic Italian dressing and gently toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Salad may be made up to two days ahead of time. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator. Add more dressing on the day of serving if the salad dries out too much.
Question: What is your go-to Fourth of July barbecue dish?
Here are some more great 4th of July ideas from the Walmart Moms:
- Fruit Parfaits with Creamy Lime Dip
- 3 Super Easy Kid-Friendly Fourth of July Food Ideas
- Fruit Flag Platter
- 4th of July Fruit and Dessert Tray
- Patriotic Popsicles
- 4th of July Mustard Pretzels to cook with kids
- Red White and Blue Dessert
- Frozen Yogurt Dipped Blueberries
- Red White and Blue Pretzel Salad
- DIY 4th of July Sno Cones
- Red White and Blue Sangria