My simple tortellini pasta salad is packed with fresh vegetables, salty cheese, and tender cooked pasta. The homemade red wine vinaigrette is the perfect finishing touch.
Pin this recipe now to save it for laterPin Recipe
This cold tortellini pasta salad is one of my all-time favorite summer recipes, right up there with Corn, Avocado & Cilantro Salad, 3-Ingredient Strawberry Icebox Cake, and Grilled Chicken Kabobs. I love that I can make it in advance, pack it up and bring it to picnics, pool parties, and barbecues.
It actually gets tastier as it sits, as the dressing soaks into every bite of tortellini and veggies. Everyone always asks me for the recipe and, of course, I am happy to oblige!
Classic Tortellini Pasta Salad Recipe
My tortellini pasta salad recipe starts with cooked cheese tortellini. I like to use rainbow-colored tortellini, which makes the salad look extra tasty. But don’t worry if you can’t find colored pasta, there are plenty of eye-catching ingredients in the recipe! Red onion, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives all add an array of pretty colors to the bowl, making it look just as good as it tastes.
The second part of this tortellini salad recipe is the homemade dressing. I whisk up a red wine vinaigrette with basil, parsley, and garlic powder. The blend of herbs and spices is perfect when paired with crunchy veggies and soft cheese-filled pasta. I promise that this easy tortellini pasta salad will be a recipe you love and make again and again!
Ingredients for Tortellini Pasta Salad
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Dried basil – Freshly chopped basil will also work well. Use one tablespoon of freshly chopped basil in place of dried basil.
- Dried parsley – Two teaspoons of freshly chopped parsley can be used in place of dried parsley.
- Garlic powder
- Ground black pepper
- Cheese tortellini – Fresh tortellini cooks in about 2 minutes, so it is my favorite. However, you can use frozen tortellini or dried tortellini to make this pasta salad as well. Just be sure to follow the cooking directions on the tortellini package!
- Cherry tomatoes – You can also use two large chopped tomatoes, but try to choose a sweet variety. Heirloom tomatoes have the most flavor and should be readily available in the summer.
- Red onion
- Red bell pepper – Red bell pepper is sweeter than green or yellow, so it is always my go-to pepper choice.
- Cucumber – Leave the peel on the cucumber to keep that pretty green color.
- Black olives
- Grated parmesan cheese – Freshly grated cheese has the best texture.
- Mozzarella pearls
- Salami – Salami is optional, but I like the extra salty flavor it adds to the tortellini pasta salad. Skip the salami if you want a vegetarian tortellini pasta salad.
Here are a few ingredient substitutes and recipe tweaks that will work well.
- Use sliced, fresh mozzarella in place of mozzarella pearls. Cut the mozzarella into bite-sized pieces and toss it into the salad just as you would add the pearls.
- Use balsamic vinegar in place of red wine vinegar to give the salad a whole new flavor. Balsamic also goes well with the Italian-style tortellini pasta salad.
- Use shell pasta or penne pasta in place of the tortellini to make a classic pasta salad. While the tortellini does make the salad extra filling, it is also great with plain noodles.
How to Make Tortellini Pasta Salad
- Make the dressing: Whisk together the ingredients for the salad dressing, then set the bowl aside.
- Cook the tortellini: Cook the tortellini according to the package directions. All tortellini will need to be boiled in water, but the time may vary based on the type of tortellini you use. Once the tortellini is cooked, drain the water and rinse the pasta under cold water to chill.
- Add the dressing: Pour the dressing over the tortellini in a large bowl and toss to coat the pasta in the dressing.
- Add the mix-ins: Add all of the remaining salad ingredients to the bowl with the cooked tortellini and toss everything together well.
- Chill: Let the tortellini salad chill for at least an hour, allowing the flavors to develop. Then, enjoy cold!
This salad can be made several days in advance and it only gets tastier. When the ingredients have time to sit and marinate, the flavor of the dressing really absorbs into the tortellini and makes every bite very flavorful. I like to make this salad as part of my weekly meal prep and enjoy it all week long! Some recipes just get better as they age…
How to Store Tortellini Pasta Salad
If you have leftover pasta salad, store it in an airtight container or in a large bowl covered with plastic wrap. Keep the salad in the fridge for 4-5 days. Enjoy straight from the fridge or try it heated in the microwave. It is delicious cold or hot!
Yes! Cooked tortellini can be eaten cold and it’s quite delicious. Cold tortellini is the main ingredient in this pasta salad and you will find out just how tasty it can be!
Tortellini needs to be boiled. Whether it is dry tortellini, frozen or fresh, all types of tortellini need a little time in boiling water to make the pasta soft and tender.
Yes! You can reheat tortellini after it has been cooked. This pasta salad is actually perfect when served hot or cold. You can make the whole tortellini salad, enjoy it cold, but then reheat it in the microwave the next day! Tortellini noodles are definitely versatile!
Tortellini Pasta Salad
- ¾ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 20 ounces cheese tortellini
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup diced red onion
- ½ cup diced red bell pepper
- 1 cucumber, sliced
- ½ cup sliced black olives
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
- 8 ounces salami, diced (optional)
- Start by making the salad dressing. In a large bowl, whisk all of the ingredients together. Set the bowl aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the tortellini according to the package directions. Dried tortellini will take longer to cook than refrigerated tortellini so be sure to check the box and see exactly how long to cook.
- Drain the tortellini and rinse with cold water to chill it quickly. Pour the tortellini into the large bowl with the dressing. Toss the tortellini in the dressing, coating the pasta well.
- Add the tomatoes, onion, red bell pepper, cucumber, olives, mozzarella pearls, parmesan and salami (if using) to the bowl and toss again.
- Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill the salad in the fridge for at least one hour, allowing the flavors to meld. Enjoy cold!
- Skip the salami if you would like a vegetarian tortellini salad
- Use 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese in place of the fresh pearls.