Pesto Tortellini Salad

A white bowl filled with brightly coloured Pesto Tortellini Salad with bocconcini, cherry tomatoes, pesto, cucumbers, and basil.

Super easy Pesto Tortellini Salad – with store bought cheese tortellini, fresh vegetables, fresh mozzarella, and mouth watering basil pesto. Mix up this new summer barbecue favourite today!

One of the best things about pesto is that it’s so versatile. There are many ways to make a pesto and there are even more ways to use it. Try making this Carrot Top Pesto using kitchen scraps or add in some tender greens, such as baby arugula, to make this Baby Arugula Pesto.

A white bowl filled with brightly coloured Pesto Tortellini Salad below two wooden salad servers

Pesto Tortellini Salad

In the summer when fresh basil is plentiful I whip up a fresh batch of pesto every week. It stays in the fridge and I use it in anything from fried Pesto Eggs to pasta, pizzas, soups, and salads. Now, I’m thrilled to bring you yet another simple fuss-free summer salad featuring pesto.

Pesto Tortellini Salad will be your next ‘go to’ salad this summer. It features store bought fresh or frozen cheese tortellini, fresh veggies, and even MORE cheese. Mix in the flavourful pesto and this one’s a keeper. It’s a delicious side dish for any grilled meat or make it a meal with the addition of grilled chicken or shrimp.

A white bowl filled with brightly coloured Pesto Tortellini Salad below two wooden salad servers

The cheesy tortellini makes it seem like a ‘comfort food’ even though it’s a salad. If the flavours weren’t enough to sell you, also also super quick to make (under 20 minutes) and it lasts forever. Okay, not forever but at least 5 days in the fridge. Talk about the ultimate meal prep!

Thinking of hosting or attending a potluck style backyard barbecue? This Pesto Tortellini Salad can hang outside the fridge for a few more hours than any mayonnaise or cream based pasta salad recipes.

Ingredients used in Pesto Tortellini Salad.

Ingredients for Pesto Tortellini Salad

First of all, let me say that no salad ingredients are ever set in stone. You can always add or remove any ingredient based on your preferences. That said, I always encourage readers to start salads with the freshest vegetables they can find. This will ensure the salad tastes as good as possible and will allow you to keep the salad as leftovers for longer.

  • Fresh or Frozen Cheese Tortellini
  • Bocconcini
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Red Onion
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Cucumber
  • Pesto
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Fresh Basil
Ingredients of Pesto Tortellini Salad sectioned off in a large white bowl.

I chose Cheese Tortellini as I think it would make the best option for this salad. That said, spinach and cheese or cheese and sundried tomato tortellini would also be delicious. The only kind of tortellini I would not recommend is meat filled tortellini.

Try to find bite sized bocconcini balls (or fresh mozzarella balls). You can also use the pearl size or slice larger bocconcini before adding it. For a tasty flavour twist, use feta cheese instead of bocconcini.

You can use either cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes in this salad. Try a range of colourful cherry tomatoes for visual interest or even sundried tomatoes. It would even be delicious with a few chopped artichoke hearts.

A white bowl filled with brightly coloured Pesto Tortellini Salad with bocconcini, cherry tomatoes, pesto, cucumbers, and basil.

Pitted Kalamata olives are delicious in this salad but any olive will do. I like dried black olives or sliced black olives too. If you don’t like olives, feel free to skip them. Note that adding olives will increase the salt so you may not have to season with salt, or even at all.

Lastly, let’s talk Pesto. I’m a big fan of making it fresh but for the sake of simplicity, a jar of grocery store pesto will do. Feel free to use other pesto variations such as sundried tomato, garlic scape, or arugula pesto.

If you are bringing this salad to share be sure to let everyone know there are pine nuts (or nuts) in the pesto.

A white bowl filled with brightly coloured Pesto Tortellini Salad with bocconcini, cherry tomatoes, pesto, cucumbers, and basil.

What Does Al Dente Mean?

The single most important thing to remember when making this salad is that the tortellini must be cooked to al dente. Al dente is an Italian phrase that means ‘to the tooth’ and it refers to the degree of cooking of the pasta.

When cooking pasta ‘al dente‘, test the past by biting it. If it sticks to your teeth but is not overly crunchy, it is ready. If you bite right through the pasta with ease, you have over cooked the tortellini. For this recipe, that means the tortellini will be mushy and fall apart.

A white bowl filled with brightly coloured Pesto Tortellini Salad below two wooden salad servers

How to Make Pesto Tortellini Salad

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add in the cheese tortellini and boil for 1 1/2 minutes. Do not follow the package instructions. Drain the pasta and immediately rinse it with cold water to stop it from cooking further.

Place the salad ingredients (cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls, red onion, Kalamata olives, cucumber) and cooked tortellini in a large bowl.

A white bowl filled with brightly coloured Pesto Tortellini Salad with bocconcini, cherry tomatoes, pesto, cucumbers, and basil.

Top the salad with pesto and gently mix until it all the ingredients become coated. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

To make it extra fancy, garnish the salad with a fresh chiffonade of basil and serve it immediately. Or, if not serving immediately, leave the basil off. Cover the salad with a tight lid and store in the fridge for up to 5 days. Garnish with basil or freshly grated Parmesan cheese just before serving.

Pesto Tortellini salad on a fork.
Pinterest image featuring brightly coloured pesto tortellini salad.

If you make this Pesto Tortellini Salad, please be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for my latest recipes. Also, if you do make this recipe, please tag me on Instagram, I’d love to see what you guys are making! Thank you so much for reading my blog.

Yield: 8 servings

Pesto Tortellini Salad

A white bowl filled with tortellini pasta salad - bright vegetables and fresh basil coated in pesto.

Super easy Pesto Tortellini Salad - with store bought cheese tortellini, fresh vegetables, fresh mozzarella, and mouthwatering basil pesto. Mix up this new summer barbecue favourite today!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute 30 seconds
Total Time 16 minutes 30 seconds

Ingredients

  • 19 oz frozen cheese tortellini
  • 1 cup pesto
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes; sliced in half
  • 8 oz small bocconcini; drained
  • 1/2 cup red onions; diced
  • 10 Kalamata olives; pitted and sliced
  • 1/2 cup cucumber; diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh basil

Instructions

    1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add in the cheese tortellini and boil for 1 1/2 minutes. Do not follow the package instructions*.
    2. Drain the pasta and immediately rinse it with cold water then place it in a large bowl.
    3. Add the rest of the salad ingredients (cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls, red onion, Kalamata olives, cucumber, salt, and pepper) to the large bowl of tortellini.
    4. Top the salad with pesto and gently mix until it all the ingredients become coated.
    5. Garnish with the fresh basil chiffonade and serve immediately or leave it off and store in the fridge
      with a tight lid for up to 5 days. Garnish with basil just before serving.



Notes

*Boiling the pasta for less time than the package instructions is important. The tortellini should be al dente and not overcooked.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 459Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 638mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 18g

Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.

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14 comments

  1. Natalie

    Tortellini are my kids favorite pasta. Made this for dinner last night and they loved it!

    Reply

  2. Amy Liu Dong

    Such a delicious and flavorful pasta salad to make for everyone.
    I am sure my siblings will love this!

    Reply

  3. Kate

    This recipe is one of my favorites, it’s super easy to make and so flavorful! This one always goes fast when I have a cookout.

    Reply

  4. Amy Liu Dong

    Wow! This salad looks absolutely delicious plus the color it brings makes it enticing and tempting! Loved it!

    Reply

  5. Erin

    This salad was fantastic! I made it for a picnic and everyone really enjoyed it. So many great flavors! I’ll definitely make it again for the next get-together.

    Reply

  6. Dave

    Flavourful and simple. It was easy to make and was delicious the next day as leftover lunch. Thanks for this pasta salad.

    Reply

  7. Shelby

    I love how simple this is to whip up and it’s always a hit with kiddos! Plus, it’s one of those comfort foods to me so triple win.

    Reply

  8. Brianna May

    This is one of my favorite meals to prep for summer lunches. It is so yummy!

    Reply

  9. Jessica

    What a delightful summer salad! I love all the addition of the juicy tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, and salty olives. And the fact that it’s hearty enough for lunch. Yum!

    Reply

  10. nancy

    this pesto tortellini salad was my go to meal prep this week. our whole family loved all the flavours and texture and it really held up thru the week ! i had major work lunch envy from my work husband hahah

    Reply

  11. Mary O’Brien

    Perfect salad for our hot, dry, windy day! Thanks

    Reply

  12. Gloria

    With summer entertaining in full swing, I need lots of salad recipes. This pasta salad sounds delicious. Perfect as a side dish, or lite lunch on the patio.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      You can never have too many summer salad recipes!

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