This easy Tortellini Pasta Salad is perfect for summer! Refreshingly packed with fresh flavors, this cold tortellini salad makes a filling lunch, a perfect side dish to serve with grilled meats, and is the first dish empty when brought to a potluck or neighborhood barbecue. The best part is that this recipe is quick, easy and seriously delicious!
This post is sponsored by one of our favorite pasta brands, Buitoni. All recipes, ideas, and opinions are cooked up right here at Easy Family Recipes.
Tortellini Pasta Salad – The EASY Way!
Pasta Salad is one of the great dishes that can serve almost any purpose. Perfect for lunch, a pasta salad can also be a side for dinner, or a filling dinner in itself when served in a larger portion or topped with a protein. It is as perfect for the a potluck or BBQ as it is for the dinner table too!
This particular cold pasta salad is special. It is the only recipe I have made in months that all 3 of my kids asked for seconds of! It is anything but a tired, old, boring classic. THIS pasta salad combines unexpected flavors in the most remarkable way for an amazingly delicious salad.
What I LOVE about this recipe:
- 6 Simple Ingredients– Only 6! After tasting this salad, you really won’t believe the recipe only uses a few simple every day ingredients.
- FAST– and I mean this pasta salad recipe can be made in as little as 15 minutes from start to finish
- Hearty but not heavy– This pasta salad is filling without leaving you feeling weighed down.
- Family friendly- Made with familiar Buitoni Tortellini, these creamy flavors mixed with bright veggies had my kids cleaning their plate.
- No Oven needed– No need to heat up the house, this recipe is quick and easy and only takes a quick 7 min cook of the pasta to complete this cold tortellini salad.
- One dish wonder– Lunch- yup. Dinner- serve it up in a big bowl. Need it extra hearty? Add some rotisserie chicken or sliced steak. Need a side for some burgers, or chicken on the grill? This is perfect! Want to bring a dish to a brunch, potluck, or neighborhood BBQ that will have a good chance to be the first dish empty on the table? This is the one!
- Made EASY with Buitoni pasta– Buitoni makes dinnertime quick and delicious. All you need is your favorite Buitoni pasta and sauce, a few simple ingredients, 10 minutes, and you’ve got a meal you can be proud of.
What to Serve with Pesto Tortellini Salad
As we chatted about above, this pasta salad can transform into everything from a light lunch to a full dinner by pairing it with the right dishes.
Main Dish Ideas
If you plan on serving the Pesto Caesar Tortellini Salad as a side dish, these make a great main dish to pair it with.
- Grilled Chicken – This classic recipe is loved by thousands of readers across the country and pairs perfectly with the pasta salad.
- Garlic Pork Tenderloin– Tender pork in a rich garlic sauce.
- Cast Iron Steak– The classic way for perfect, tender, juicy steak every time.
- Pomodoro Chicken– The best flavors for pairing with the Pesto Tortellini Salad!
- Hamburgers- The simplest meal paired with a quick and easy side, is a winning combo.
- Pulled Pork– This crock pot recipe will feed a crowd!
Side Dish Ideas
When planning to serve this hearty pasta salad as a main dish, you can pair it with a few of these other salads to make a really delicious meal. Easting this way is one of my all time favorites!
- Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad – a family favorite!
- Broccoli Cauliflower Salad – made over 150,000 times by readers!
- Italian Quinoa Salad
- Antipasto Salad– protein packed option
- Tomato Basil Mozzarella Salad – perfect flavor compliment
- Pimento Cheese – this homemade recipe is the BEST!
You can choose one or add a few sides to make a wholesome, well rounded dinner.
This pasta salad recipe is as simple as promised! Just 6 simple ingredients for a family friendly meal.
In this section I am going to go through a few tips and tricks I use when making this recipe to get the absolute best and most delicious results.
Make sure to scroll to the bottom for the FULL recipe card.
- Buitoni 3 Cheese Tortellini – This is the star of the recipe! You can find Buitoni pasta in most grocers in the refrigerated section. Buitoni allows you to take familiar ingredients and use them in a new way to create memorable meals your family will love. I love using their tortellini because not only does it taste great, but it cooks quickly to make this meal extra fast.
- Grape tomatoes– These are sweet and the perfect compliment to the rich garlicky pesto.
- Frozen sweet green peas– I prefer frozen peas for salads because they hold their sweetness, firmness, and vibrant color better than canned. You will want to make sure to thaw them before adding to the salad if you are serving right away. If you aren’t serving the salad right away, you can get away with adding them frozen and allowing them to thaw in the salad before serving.
- Parmesan cheese– I prefer shredded over grated.
- Buitoni Pesto with Basil– I have many recipes that incorporate pesto because I LOVE the flavor! I always recommend using a refrigerated variety like Buitoni because it has the freshest flavor. Plus, Buitoni pastas and sauces are made from simple, high-quality ingredients that you can feel good about giving your family.
- Creamy caesar dressing– The creamy Caesar is the unexpected ingredient that really gives this salad a special twist! It adds both creaminess and flavor and makes this salad one that you won’t want to put down.
- Don’t over cook the pasta– I know it seems like 7 minutes is so quick, but that is one of the most awesome parts about this tortellini salad, it is FAST! If you over cook the tortellini it can become mushy and really doesn’t work well for a salad. So just make sure to keep your eye on the clock.
- Rinse pasta to cool– This is little, but probably the most pivotal step in the recipe. Once you drain the tortellini, rinse it under cold water for a minute so that the temperature of the pasta cools down immediately. This does two things- First, it prevents the pasta from cooking any further and second, it cools it down so that it doesn’t transfer heat to the sauce, veggies and cheese that are added to it. This is important since we serve this as a cold tortellini salad.
- Use creamy caesar dressing– You can generally find Caesar dressing in a creamy style and a vinaigrette. I prefer a creamy style in this recipe because it really coats the pasta well and combines with the pesto to make such a tasty sauce for the salad.
- Serve immediately or chill for later– This salad is amazing served freshly made, and my preference is to eat it right away. That said, you can chill the salad and up to 24 hours and still have a good result. If you want to chill for longer than that, I recommend leaving out the cherry tomatoes until serving.
If you love this recipe as much as we do and want some quick ways to change it up for variety, these little tips will do the trick!
- Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad with Chicken– If you want to make this dish even heartier, or give it a punch of protein, I recommend adding pulled rotisserie chicken to the mix. The flavor works great in the salad and it transforms it into a filling pasta meal.
- Bacon Pesto Tortellini Salad– Try adding crispy crumbled bacon to finish off the salad for a savory twist.
- Pesto Caesar Tortellini Salad with Spinach– Chop 2 cups of fresh spinach and toss with the salad. This adds lots of extra nutrients and gives the salad more bulk while still keeping it light.
Pesto Tortellini Salad Leftovers
If you have leftovers after making this pasta salad, then it is your lucky day! They save well, and can be eaten as a lunch or side with other meals throughout the week.
To save leftovers, separate into meal sized portions and then place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Here are a few ways to repurpose those leftovers and give them a delicious makeover!
- Top with grilled or rotisserie chicken
- Top with bacon
- Add sliced pepperoni or salami
More Easy Side Dish Recipes
If you enjoyed this recipe, I really hope you will take a moment to grab a few more easy recipes for another busy night!
You can check out all of my easy side dish recipes here, or see a few of our readers favorite recipes below.
- 20 oz Buitoni 3 Cheese Tortellini, (1 package)
- 10 oz grape tomatoes, halved
- 1½ cups frozen sweet green peas, thawed
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1/3 cup Buitoni pesto
- 1/3 cup creamy caesar dressing
- Cook tortellini per package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water.
- In a large bowl, combine tortellini, tomatoes, peas, parmesan cheese, pesto, and caesar dressing and toss until evenly combined.
- Serve immediately, or chill for up to 24 hours.