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.
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.
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 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
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Red Onion
- Kalamata Olives
- Salt and Pepper
- Fresh Basil
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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 then place it in a large bowl.
- 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.
- Top the salad with pesto and gently mix until it all the ingredients become coated.
- 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.
*Boiling the pasta for less time than the package instructions is important. The tortellini should be al dente and not overcooked.
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.