This Pesto Tortellini Salad is a simple and incredibly tasty entree, side dish, or appetizer! It’s made with tender tortellini noodles tossed with green peas, fresh bell pepper, and parmesan in a creamy pesto sauce. It’s an easy and healthy pasta salad recipe you’ll be making again and again!
Pesto Tortellini Salad – The EASY Way!
I love all pasta salads. But this Pesto Tortellini Salad is definitely one of my very favorites. It’s easy enough to whip up for an easy summer dinner, tasty enough to take to a BBQ, and impressive enough to be enjoyed as an appetizer or salad course for a dinner party.
It’s served cold, which makes it great for meal-prep lunches or on-the-go meals. With just 6 ingredients and 15 minutes needed to put this pasta salad together, you’ll be coming back to the recipe all the time.
Enjoy this cold tortellini salad with pesto on its own or enjoy it with another salad, your favorite protein, or a delicious entree to round it out. It goes with everything!
Why I LOVE this recipe!
- Quick and easy. This pasta salad is ready in no more than 15 minutes using just 6 ingredients!
- Versatile. You can enjoy this recipe as a heartier appetizer, serve it as a side dish with your favorite protein, or enjoy it as a light vegetarian main dish.
- Delicious. I mean, what’s not to love about a cheesy pasta in a creamy pesto sauce with crunchy bell pepper, sweet peas, and cheese?
- Restaurant Quality- This recipe was inspired by a pasta salad I used to get weekly at one of my favorite lunch spots. I tried to recreate the flavor, textures, and ingredients in the salad to share it with you!
What to Serve with Pesto Tortellini Salad
Since this dish is loaded with cheese tortellini, wholesome veggies and a bright basil pesto dressing, it makes a great appetizer, salad course, or side dish, but it is also hearty enough to be a vegetarian main dish. You can even top it with your favorite meat for a protein boost.
Serve it with these entrees
- Turkey Spinach Feta Burgers – Serve a fresh, healthy, flavor-packed meal with these turkey spinach feta burgers. These burgers are packed full of learn protein, greens, Greek seasoning, and salty feta for the perfect combination of flavors.
- Garlic Parmesan Chicken – Enjoy a heartier comfort food meal with these low carb and keto chicken breasts. They’re loaded up with cream cheese, sour cream, mozzarella, and parmesan for tons of flavor and the perfect amount of cheesiness.
- One Pan Tuscan Pork Chops – This recipe for pork chops is a favorite. It’s made with thick-cut boneless pork chops simmered in sweet and tangy honey balsamic sauce, then topped with fresh tomatoes, spinach, and parmesan.
Other Salad/Sides to pair it with
- Antipasto Salad – Keep things fresh and bursting with flavor with this simple antipasto salad. It’s a 20-minute recipe that’s packed with pepperoni, salami, pepperonchini peppers, fresh mozzarella, kalamata olives, and cherry tomatoes tossed in a tangy Italian dressing.
- Chef Salad – This chef salad is a simple and classic side dish to serve with any meal. It’s a fresh blend of lettuce, avocado, and tomato topped with ham, chicken or turkey, croutons, provolone cheese, and Italian dressing.
- Kale Salad – This 4-ingredient salad is an easy and tasty side dish that pairs perfectly with pesto tortellini salad. It’s a fresh blend of kale, toasted almonds, shaved parmesan, and a bright lemon vinaigrette.
Protein to top it with
- Chicken – Top your pasta salad with sliced, shredded, or chopped chicken. You can use leftover chicken you already have or whip up a batch of baked chicken.
- Steak – Add some bite-sized pieces of garlic herb steak or cast iron strip steak.
- Pork – Mix in some garlic pork bites of chop up any leftover cooked pork you have on hand.
- Seafood – Whip up my perfect blackened fish, add some canned tuna, or top it with a few pieces of cooked shrimp!
This tortellini pesto salad recipe is as simple as promised! Just 15 minutes for a family friendly meal, side dish, or appetizer.
In this section I am going to go through a few tips and tricks I use for how to make Pesto Tortellini Salad to get the absolute best and most delicious results.
Make sure to scroll to the bottom for the FULL recipe card.
Ingredients + Substitutions
- Tortellini – I use a 19 ounce bag of frozen tortellini for this recipe. You can use the refrigerated kind, or even the dried kind, but my preference is frozen.
- Mayonnaise – You need just a little bit of mayo to make the dish a little creamy and bring everything together.
- Pesto – I like to use refrigerated Buitoni pesto. I like the refrigerated kind, because it’s fresher. If you have a shelf-stable, jarred variety you like, feel free to use that instead. Alternatively, whip up a batch of homemade pesto for an even fresher option!
- Green Peas – Use frozen green peas for the best flavor. Canned aren’t nearly as good.
- Bell Pepper – I use red bell pepper for its slightly sweet flavor and bright pop of color. Be sure to chop it up pretty small so it mixes well with the other ingredients.
- Parmesan Cheese – I recommend freshly shredded parmesan for the best flavor.
- Rinse the tortellini after cooking. After the pasta is cooked, drain it, then rinse it well with cold water. This stops the cooking process and cools the pasta so it doesn’t heat the other ingredients when you add them.
- Let the pasta cool completely before assembling. To keep everything nice and fresh, I like to make sure the pasta is totally cooled off before I add the other ingredients.
- Let it chill. If you’re not serving your pasta salad right away, it does benefit from a little bit of time in the fridge. This gives the tortellini time to really soak in the flavors from the other ingredients!
Recipe Short Cuts
If you need to make this recipe, but are extra short on time, here are a few ideas that can help make this recipe even faster!
- Use pre-made pesto – Freshly made pesto is, well, freshest…BUT I love to save a little bit of time with a pre-made refrigerated pesto. It’s still delicious, but keeps this creamy pesto tortellini salad extra quick and easy.
- Cook the peas with the tortellini – While you can cook the peas separately, my hack is to throw the peas into the boiling water with the tortellini in the last minute or two of cooking. Then, you can drain them all together and the peas are perfectly cooked with very little extra effort!
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!
- Chicken Tortellini Pesto Salad – Make it into a heartier dish with any leftover cooked chicken you have available. Try baked chicken, grilled chicken, or Rotisserie chicken.
- Pesto Tortellini Salad with Asparagus – Add a little extra texture and flavor with chopped pieces of baked asparagus.
- Spinach Pesto Tortellini Salad – Throw a handful of spinach in with the peas or whip up a batch of sautéed spinach for a boost of nutrition.
- Pesto Tortellini Salad with Sun Dried Tomatoes – Give your pasta salad a layer of rich sweetness with a scoop of sun dried tomatoes.
- Pesto Tortellini Salad with Feta – Swap the parmesan out for a sprinkle of crumbled feta.
Pesto Tortellini Salad Leftovers
If you have leftovers after making this cold tortellini salad with pesto, then it is your lucky day! They save and reheat well, and can make the start of another delicious dish.
To save leftovers, separate into meal sized portions and then place in an airtight container and store:
- in the refrigerator for 3-4 days
More Pasta Salad 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 salad recipes here, or see a few of our readers favorite recipes below.
- 19 ounces frozen tortellini, (one bag)
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 7 ounces prepared pesto
- 10 ounces frozen green peas
- 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- Cook the tortellini per package directions. Drain and rinse to cool.Cook peas per package directions- OR -add peas to the tortellini while boiling for the last 4-5 minutes of cook time. Drain and rinse together.
- Place the cooled tortellini in a large bowl. Add peas, chopped red pepper, pesto, mayonnaise, and parmesan cheese and toss to coat in the mixture. Note: It can be easier to pre-mix the pesto and mayo so that it gets evenly distributed without any effort.
- Serve right away, or chill until ready to serve. This salad can be served at room temperature or cold and will save well.
- 6-8 side salad servings
- 4 main course servings
- Rotisserie chicken
- chopped leftover steak
- Tuna fish