Tortellini Pasta Salad is the perfect picnic recipe, packed to the rim with amazing flavors. Tortellini, vegetables, cheese, and salami all come together with our delicious Italian dressing.
Nothing says summer quite like pasta salad recipes. There are endless things that you can do with a pasta salad from the veggies you put in to the dressing you put on top of it. This Tortellini Pasta salad is a riff on my Italian Pasta Salad recipe.
We use easy to find ingredients to make this great Tortellini Pasta Salad and then we round it off with my homemade Italian dressing. The result is a delicious pasta salad recipe that you will be requested to bring to family functions over and over again.
Italian Dressing Recipe
Homemade Italian Dressing
We are using my homemade Italian salad dressing in this pasta salad with cheese tortellini. Making your own salad dressing is quick and allows you to control all the flavors and ingredients. The flavors are outstanding! It does taste best when it has 24 hours to sit and let the flavors combine. That being said, you could absolutely make the dressing while the pasta is cooking and enjoy the salad.
Using Mayo in Salad Dressing
You will notice that we are using mayonnaise in this recipe. It works as an emulsifier, in other words, it keeps the dressing from separating. You can absolutely skip it, as it is not necessary for taste, but just keep in mind that the dressing will separate. Giving the pasta salad a quick toss can take care of this.
Blending Salad Dressing
In this recipe I’m suggesting that you blend my Italian dressing. While it isn’t necessary, and it isn’t something I typically do when using this salad dressing, I like what it does for this pasta salad. Blending it smooths it out, helps the flavors combine quickly and allows for it to coat all of the ingredients in the salad evenly.
How to Make Tortellini Pasta Salad
Once your dressing is made, this tortellini pasta salad recipe comes together in a big bowl with fresh ingredients. Here is a brief overview of how to make it. For the full recipe including all measurements, please scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
- Cook the pasta. Follow the directions on the package.
- Combine all ingredients. Mix together tortellini, vegetables, salami, olives, cheese, and basil in a large bowl.
- Add the dressing. Stir to combine.
Cooking Tortellini for Pasta Salad
Cooking pasta is one of the easiest parts of most pasta based recipes, but there are a few things that help ensure it’s the perfect ingredient it is meant to be.
- Either fresh or dry tortellini can be used in this recipe. It is just a matter of preference and budget.
- Use enough water. You don’t just need enough to cover the tortellini. You need enough that it can comfortably expand in the water.
- Bring the water to a roaring boil before adding the tortellini. You don’t just want to see a few bubbles, you want to se big raging bubbles.
- Salt the water before adding the tortellini. I typically use one teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of pasta.
- Set a timer. This is especially true when working with fresh tortellini. Over cooking pasta is the fastest way to ruin a dish. I like to set a timer so that I can pull it out at the exact time that is suggested on the packaging.
Making Pasta Salad Ahead
This cheese tortellini pasta salad is best within 24 hours of making it. If you are making it the night before, I recommend that you leave off the dressing and add it right before serving. This will prevent the noodles from absorbing all of the Italian dressing and getting mushy.
This pasta salad with Italian dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. When eating leftovers, I recommend tossing in some extra Italian dressing. If you take it to a picnic and it is left out for two hours, toss it. Always use your best discretion with leftovers. I would not recommend freezing this recipe.
This pasta salad makes 10 one cup servings.
Of course! This recipe will work with any pasta.
Yes! One of the things I love most about pasta salads is how easy they are to customize.
If you try this cheese tortellini pasta salad recipe or any of my other recipes, please leave a comment and let me know what you think!
Tortellini Pasta Salad
- 1 pound tortellini cooked and drained
- 1/2 small red onion diced
- 1 orange bell pepper diced
- 2 cups grape tomatoes sliced in half
- 3 ounces salami cut into half inch cubes
- 1/4 cup sliced black olives
- 8 ounces pearl mozzarella
- 1/2 cup fresh basil diced
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon light mayonnaise (read here about why we use mayonnaise in salad dressing)
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
- black pepper to taste
- red pepper flakes to taste
- Please note that the dressing in this recipe tastes best when it has 24 hours to sit and let the flavors combine. That being said, you could absolutely make the dressing while the pasta is cooking and enjoy the salad. We like to combine the ingredients in our Ninja bullet for this recipe for a really smooth dressing.
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions, rinsing with cold water when done.
- In a large bowl, combine the tortellini, vegetables, salami, olives, cheese, and basil. Toss with this dressing and enjoy!