The perfect side dish, lunch, or light dinner!
When I need to prepare a dish for a potluck or backyard barbecue, there are a few ideas that I typically gravitate towards. One of these ideas is pasta salad! Why? Because it’s easy to prepare and I usually have all of the ingredients on hand already. Plus, pasta salad always turns out delicious, and it’s easy to make a vegetarian version that still pleases the meat-eaters in the group. Recently, I’ve been making this tortellini pasta salad. The cheese-stuffed tortellini cook up quickly, and using them removes the need to add extra cheese.
This seven-ingredient pasta salad is ready in 25 minutes, including 15 minutes of resting time to let the flavors meld. It’s a perfect side dish, but I also love serving it as a light lunch or dinner. Simply add some sauteed shrimp or grilled chicken for a more filling, protein-packed meal.
What are Tortellini?
Tortellini are small, ring-shaped stuffed pasta. They’re similar to ravioli but significantly smaller. Some tortellini contain meat fillings, but the ones we use for this recipe are stuffed with cheese (like a blend of ricotta, Parmesan, and Romano). You’ll usually find them in the grocery store in the refrigerated or freezer aisles, although some brands sell dried tortellini in the pasta aisle.
These pasta are just as easy to cook as other noodles, too. Each package direction differs, but it usually involves adding the tortellini to salted, boiling water. Once they hit the water, set the timer for approximately three minutes for refrigerated tortellini, five minutes for frozen, and ten minutes for dried pasta.
What Makes this Tortellini Pasta Salad So Tasty
Our secret ingredient for this tortellini pasta salad is the combination of cheese-filled pasta, savory basil pesto, and tangy red wine vinegar. The flavors of the pesto really shine through here: herbaceous basil, toasted pine nuts, salty Parmesan cheese, and oil to bring it together. Of course, you don’t have to use basil pesto. We have a great recipe for an oil-free pesto that uses spinach, which would taste fantastic in this pasta salad recipe.
From there, it’s all about just tossing the ingredients together. You don’t have to dirty up multiple bowls and cutting boards to make it happen, either. Simply add the ingredients to a bowl and let the pasta salad sit for about 15 minutes to let the flavors meld together. You can easily make the pasta salad in advance, letting it sit in the refrigerator, covered, overnight. If you end up with leftovers, they should be good for up to three days.
Serving Tortellini Pasta Salad
Serve this recipe as a side dish to any main course that you’d serve with regular pasta salad. That might be sandwiches, grilled meats, pulled pork, barbecue chicken, or any number of vegetable dishes. Here are some of our favorite pairings:
- No-Bread Italian Sandwiches
- Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork
- Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Skewers
- Simple One Pan Lemon Salmon with Roasted Asparagus
- Coconut Fried Shrimp, Red Lobster Style
- Baked Tofu Chunks with Cajun Spice Dry Rub
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Spicy Charred Corn
- Maple Baked Beans
Tortellini Pasta Salad
- 1 pound cheese tortellini cooked
- 1/4 cup basil pesto
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 1/4 cup red onion diced small
- 1 cucumber diced small
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- Combine all ingredients together. Mix well to coat all ingredients with the pesto. Let sit for about 15 minutes to allow the flavors to combine beore serving.
Have you made this recipe?
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