I love a really good pasta salad. And this one certainly fits that bill. Catherine Dowdy, from the UK Cooperative Extension Office in Daviess County, joined my radio show today for our weekly What's Cookin'? segment. She served up an wonderfully light and delicious recipe from the Extension's 2023 Recipe Calendar.

Here's how to make Rainbow Pasta Salad!


  • 8 ounces small whole-wheat pasta (shells, mini bowties, elbow macaroni, rotini, etc.)
  • 6 ounces (or 4 cups, packed) fresh baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 can (15 ounces) mandarin oranges in 100% juice or water, drained
  • 1 can (10 ounces) pineapple tidbits in 100% juice, drained with juice reserved
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, cashews, almonds (optional)
  • *1/4 cup olive oil
  • *1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • *Reserved pineapple juice
  • *1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • *1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • *1/2 teaspoon salt


1) Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold running water to cool. Set aside to continue draining.

2) Wash fresh produce under cool running water and dry. Cut to prepare for the recipe.

3) In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, spinach, strawberries, oranges, and pineapple.

4) Top with chopped nuts, if using.

5) Combine the salad dressing ingredients in a separate small bowl or jar with a lid. Whisk or shake to combine. Add salad dressing to the pasta salad right before serving and toss. Or, serve dressing on the side to keep salad crisp for several days.

Of course, one of the great things about recipes developed by the UK Cooperative Extension is that they're designed to feed lots of mouths for cheap in a very healthy way. The total cost of this recipe is estimated to be $12.87.  It yields seven 1 and 1/2 cup servings. That makes the total cost per serving just $1.84.

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