This easy Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad is an absolute game-changer! Easy to prepare and packed with flavorful ingredients like cheese tortellini pasta and pesto, it's a must-try.
If you're a fan of pesto and pasta, you'll love this easy pasta salad. It's a cheese-filled, refreshingly simple dish that is just perfect for any time. Like Pesto Orzo Salad, this is easy to make and ready in no time.
Made with cheese tortellini, pesto, mozzarella pearls, plenty of crunchy veggies, and a sprinkling of parmesan, this tortellini salad is hearty and great for lunch or an easy weeknight dinner.
What really sets this pesto salad apart is homemade pesto, which has the best flavor. You don't need expensive pine nuts, and with a few simple ingredients, this basil pesto is a breeze to make. Unlike store-bought pesto, which is often acidic, this pesto is light and refreshing.
This tortellini salad can be made in advance and is great for parties or potlucks.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe:
- Flavorful: The mix of sharp pesto, pasta filled with cheese, and crisp veggies full of fresh flavors and tastes so good you'll keep wanting more.
- Easy to prepare: This salad comes together quickly, making it ideal for busy weeknights or impromptu gatherings.
- Perfect for any occasion: Whether you're hosting a summer barbecue, packing a picnic, or just making dinner for the family, this pasta salad is always an excellent choice.
- Healthy: Packed with fresh vegetables and dressed in a light pesto sauce, this pasta salad is a balanced meal that doesn't compromise on taste.
This pesto tortellini salad recipe is quick and simple, and you only need a few ingredients to pull it together. Here’s what you’ll need for the recipe:
*Scroll below to the recipe card for ingredient measurements.
- Cheese tortellini -Fresh tortellini can be found in the refrigerated section. You can use cheese-filled tortellini or the spinach and cheese ones.
- Fresh basil pesto or store-bought in a pinch.
- Fresh Mozzarella pearls - These mini mozzarella balls are also called Bocconcini.
- Cherry tomatoes - Fresh cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes
- Kalamata olives or black olives
- Red onion
- Parmesan cheese
- Extras - kosher salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic powder
How to Make Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad
*Scroll below for the printable recipe card and ingredient measurements.
Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the tortellini pasta and boil for only 2 minutes. Don't follow package instructions.
Drain and rinse under cold water. Set it aside to cool.
Prep: While the pasta is cooling, you can chop the onions, halve the cherry tomatoes and slice the olives. If you have fresh mozzarella balls, cut them in half or quarters, any way you prefer. Thinly slice the basil leaves.
Mix: In a large bowl, toss the tortellini with pesto and add chopped onions, olives, tomatoes, and basil leaves. Add garlic powder, black pepper or red pepper flakes if needed. You can serve immediately or let it sit in the fridge for about an hour for the flavors to meld together. Adjust seasoning.
When serving, garnish with more sliced basil leaves and parmesan cheese.
- Be sure to salt your pasta water well. It sounds like a small thing, but it adds an extra layer of flavor to your tortellini.
- Don't overcook your tortellini. You want it to have a bit of a bite to it — that's al dente! Cook only for 2 minutes. Skip the package instruction.
- Don't forget to taste as you go. Add salt and pepper if needed. It's the best way to make sure your salad is perfectly seasoned!
- If you want to freshen up the salad, mix some lemon juice in.
- Add some extra-virgin olive oil or pesto if the pasta seems dry.
How To Serve Pesto Tortellini
You can enjoy it in a couple of different ways. Fancy a light lunch? This salad goes brilliantly on its own.
If you're thinking of a more filling meal, this salad makes the perfect side dish with any protein: chicken or fish.
Serve it slightly chilled for a cold pasta salad. The cool temperature refreshes the palate and allows the flavors to marry beautifully.
How To Store
Proper storage is crucial to ensure your Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad stays fresh and delicious.
Once the salad is prepared, allow it to cool to room temperature. After it's cooled, transfer it into an airtight container. The pasta salad can be refrigerated for 3-4 days.
Remember to stir the salad well before serving, as the dressing may settle at the bottom. If the salad seems a bit dry after refrigeration, add more pesto or olive oil to moisten it.
Your Questions Answered
Absolutely! While homemade pesto can offer a fresh and unique flavor, store-bought pesto is a convenient and perfectly acceptable substitute. Just make sure to check the ingredients to avoid any unwanted additives.
Of course! This delicious pasta salad can be easily customized. Feel free to add any vegetables you like or have on hand. Some great additions could be red bell pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, and cucumbers.
Yes, this salad can definitely be prepared ahead of time. In fact, letting the salad sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight allows the flavors to meld together, making it even more delicious. Add a bit more dressing if it looks dry and is ready to serve.
Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad
- 1 pound refrigerated cheese tortellini pasta
- ½ cup pesto
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup mozzarella pearls or bocconcini
- ½ cup red onions
- ¼ cup olives
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoon fresh basil
- kosher salt, black pepper, red chili flakes optional
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the tortellini pasta and boil for only 2 minutes. Don't follow package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set it aside to cool.
- While the pasta is cooling, dice the onions, halve the cherry tomatoes, and slice the olives. If you have large mozzarella balls, cut them in half or quarters, any way you prefer. Thinly slice the basil leaves.
- Toss the tortellini with pesto in a large bowl and add chopped onions, olives, tomatoes, and basil leaves. Add black pepper, and red chili flakes if needed. You can serve it immediately or let it sit in the fridge for about an hour for the flavors to meld together. Adjust seasoning.
- When serving, garnish with more sliced basil leaves and parmesan cheese.