Tortellini salad is one of those wholesome pasta recipes that is hearty enough to eat like a meal. It’s got a zesty Italian inspired dressing, plenty of beautiful veggies and even salami but that’s not all. Cheese filled tortellini and fresh mozzarella put the finishing touches on this dish and add that extra something special.
Tortellini salad is one of the most robust and vibrant pasta salad recipes in my arsenal. This crowd-pleasing favorite offers so much more than average tortellini recipes, standing head and shoulders above the rest.
Let me show you why!
This vibrant tortellini salad can satiate even the hardiest of appetites. Zesty homemade vinaigrette blend savory meat, rich cheese and crisp summer veggies to create a complex flavor profile that’s hard to resist! Here are even more reasons to love it.
- Incredible flavor
- Eats like a meal
- One bowl wonder
- Cheese filled pucker pockets
- Really easy to make
Making tortellini pasta salad is a beautiful way to feed a hungry crowd at potlucks or large family gatherings and a few tricks of the trade can help ensure an unforgettable flavor.
Boiling your tortellini until just al dente is the best way to keep it from getting mushy. This should take approximately 7-9 minutes, unless frozen or otherwise directed on the package.
Combine ingredients for vinaigrette dressing and set aside while tortellini are boiling. Immediately toss warm pasta into homemade dressing and combine well. Let it cool to room temperature.
This process will infuse all the tangy flavors of the vinaigrette into the tortellini pasta for a fresh burst of sunshine in every bite.
Making the homemade vinaigrette dressing for this recipe involves using a combination of balsamic and red wine vinegars. Balsamic is a dark, intense vinegar made primarily from grape must. Red wine vinegar has a lighter, sharper flavor and offers a ton of health benefits as well.
The combination of these two vinegars (along with the marinade from the artichoke hearts) creates an incredible vinaigrette that elevates your tortellini salad like you wouldn’t believe!
This vibrant tortellini salad also calls for peppadew peppers. If you’ve never heard of them, they are sweet, slightly spicy South African peppers that are so much better than most mainstream roasted red peppers. Yeah, they’re that good.
Mozzarella-Fresh mozzarella can be found in lots of different sizes – from the large balls, you might slice for pizza or Caprese salad to tiny little perline or pearl-sized balls. I recommend buying ciliegine mozzarella (the size of cherries) to keep the ingredients all roughly the same size. If you can’t find fresh, you can substitute pre-packaged mozzarella chopped into 1/2-inch cubes.
Artichoke- An old friend of mine, who used to be a caterer, shared her time-honored secret for salads that use marinated artichoke hearts. Get a head start on the dressing by using the marinade from the jar! It’s already loaded with great flavor and seasonings, so it really provides the perfect foundation for this dressing.
For best results tortellini pasta salad should be refrigerated in an airtight container with a secure lid or covered with saran wrap. Storing your scrumptious salad properly means protecting it from air, which is the main cause of food oxidation. Adequate cooling slows oxidation, so your tortellini salad should be stored at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now this is a large recipe that feeds a crowd. So, if your fridge is full you may not have the extra room to shove your largest bowl in there, too. If that’s the case, divide the tortellini salad in half and store it in two 1-gallon Ziploc bags. Just be sure they are securely closed! Not only will that save some space, but it’s also easy to flip the bags upside down occasionally to make sure the yummy dressing is evenly distributed
**Pro Tip: This recipe serves 12 people conservatively so if you aren’t feeding a large crowd, you can cut it in half. Making half a batch of tortellini salad provides some fabulous weekday lunches or even a tasty Mediterranean style dinner that’s ready when you get home!
Can You Freeze This?
Unfortunately, tortellini salad does not freeze well. The crisp summer veggies just can’t stand up to freezing temperatures. However, the homemade vinaigrette can be prepared and frozen ahead of time, if necessary. I like to store it in ice trays covered with saran wrap.
Make Ahead Tips
Prepping ahead makes it easier to throw this awesome dish together. The veggies can be chopped and refrigerated in a mason jar or covered container. Remember to slow thaw your vinaigrette if it has been previously frozen.
Chopping the meat and cheese ahead of time also helps but they should not be stored with the vegetables. When it’s time to make your tortellini salad, simply follow recipe instructions.
If the salad seems a little dry after it’s been in the fridge overnight, toss in a few tablespoons – up to a ¼ cup – of olive oil when you check the seasonings.
How Long Can You Keep This?
Some slight variations or substitutions may be necessary according to certain preferences or diet restrictions but keep in mind it may change the flavor of your tortellini salad. For instance, peppadew peppers can sometimes be hard to find so people sometimes use roasted red peppers instead. Of course, this is fine, but I promise the peppadew peppers are much better!
You may also substitute ham for the genoa salami, but ham doesn’t quite have the same bite when combined with that flavorful vinaigrette. If you don’t want to use salami, you can substitute pepperoni or one of my favorites – boiled shrimp (or use them both.
If you want a super quick and easy tortellini salad recipe, you can skip making your own dressing and use about 1 c. of your favorite store-bought brand.
Can I Add Tortellini Salad With Spinach?
Adding spinach to your tortellini salad is a great way to up the nutrition ante. Try serving it on a big bed of fresh, crisp spinach for extra nutritious texture and flavor. There is plenty of that beautiful tangy dressing to accommodate the spinach.
Can I Make Tortellini Salad Greek Style?
Making your tortellini salad Greek style would take some work but my recipe for Greek pasta salad fits the bill perfectly. It embodies a virtual Mediterranean party in your mouth.
Greek pasta salad involves Kalamata olives, cucumbers and feta cheese instead of mozzarella. Should you decide to go this route you’ll need to substitute lemon juice for the balsamic vinegar in the dressing and adjust the amount to accommodate the saltier ingredients.
How Can I Make This A Creamy Tortellini Salad?
Making this a creamy tortellini salad involves adding a creamy base as the dressing. Many recipes for tortellini salad use mayo as the cream base but this recipe has so much more flavor than plain old mayonnaise. If you find yourself out of Italian seasoning, pesto sauce also makes a fantastic stand in with all its savory herbs and spices.
What Other Mediterranean Salad I Can Make?
Making Mediterranean pasta salad is like touring the flavors of the region and sharing the experience with others. Its elegant, refreshing and bursting with yummy.
Italian pasta salad is another beautiful favorite that is hard to resist. It’s a penne pasta salad that embodies a metropolis of tangy flavors that can elevate any meal. Italian pasta salad is both potluck and picnic ready.
Can I Make This With Chicken?
Some people do prefer to substitute chicken for the salami, but it does change the flavor of the recipe. Adding chicken along with the salami is another way to add pizazz to an already feisty dish.
For a surefire flavor to complement the friendly fowl try making my chicken pasta salad or chicken tortellini instead. They are both crowd pleasing favorites that enhance the beauty and flavor of any meal.
- 1/3 cup reserved oil from marinated artichokes
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh garlic minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 20 ounce-each packages cheese filled tortellini
- 1/2 cup red onion sliced
- 1 6.5 ounce jar marinated artichokes drained and oil reserved
- 8 ounces genoa salami sliced into 1/4 inch strips
- 1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup pitted black olives cut in half
- 1 cup pitted Italian green olives cut in half
- 1/3 cup peperoncini peppers sliced
- 1/3 cup peppadew peppers sliced
- 1 large red bell pepper julienned
- 2 (8 ounces containers) fresh mozzarella ball in water, drained and cut Into 1/2 inch cubes
- 10 ounce container grape tomatoes cut in half
- 1/4 fresh basil leaves julienned
- 2 tablespoons to 1/4 Cup Olive Oil optional
- In a very large mixing bowl, whisk together the ingredients of the dressing until well combined. Set aside.
- Cook the tortellini according to package directions and drain well.
- While pasta is still warm, toss it in the mixing bowl with dressing. Allow pasta to cool.
- When dressed pasta has cooled to room temperature, add the rest of the salad ingredients to the pasta and toss well.
- Refrigerate 6 hours, or even better, overnight.
- Toss before serving, adjust seasoning and add olive oil as needed. Topped with fresh Basil and Serve
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Tortellini is a little puckered pasta that packs a powerful punch, especially when it’s filled with cheese. Tortellini salad is by far one of the most playful and delicious cold pasta recipes in my arsenal and there is plenty of that delicious zesty dressing to fill all those little nooks and crannies. Here are some other scrumptious tortellini recipes that rock the flavor grid.
- Cheese Tortellini Recipes
- Tortellini Alfredo
- Baked Tortellini
- Tortellini Carbonara
- Cheese Tortellini
Tortellini salad is an exquisite cold pasta salad that eats like a meal. This beautiful fragrant salad practically commands attention and a spot on your plate. Plus, it comes together easily and offers a myriad of yummy flavors and textures that satisfy both the appetite and the soul.
When you need a hardy dish that doesn’t demand hours in the kitchen call on the beautiful tortellini salad. It does not disappoint.