An easy pesto tortellini pasta salad! Pillowy soft cheese tortellini are tossed with sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, fresh mozzarella & parmesan then coated in mouth-watering pesto! Perfect for summer potlucks or a make ahead lunch!
We love a good pasta salad recipe at Kalefornia Kravings! (Some of my favorites include my Cilantro Lime Pasta Salad and Italian Antipasto Pasta Salad.) I love that they’re an easy make-ahead meal with a ton of variety. We always bring them to potlucks over the summer or make them for an easy meal-prepped lunch during the week.
Switching from regular pasta to tortellini is a total game changer! Using tortellini makes your pasta salad a little more substantial and (depending on the type you use) adds another dimension of flavor. We went with cheese filled tortellini for this pesto pasta salad because pesto + cheese is a match made in heaven. (The more cheese the better!😉)
Speaking of cheese, this pasta salad includes 2 types of cheese (fresh mozzarella balls and shredded parmesan) along with flavorful mix-in’s like sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, onion and fresh basil. It’s a super quick and easy meal with a delicious mash-up of flavors!
Ingredients You’ll Need
Cheese tortellini: We love using 3 cheese tortellini for our pasta salad! (Check out Buitoni’s tortellini – they’re so good!)
Sun-dried tomatoes: Use sun dried tomatoes packed in oil for the best results. (They have better flavor and texture that the sun-dried tomatoes that come in a bag.) I also recommend using “julienne style” tomatoes so there’s no cutting involved!
Fresh mozzarella: Mozzarella pearls are the perfect size for this pasta salad! (You can also use a large ball of fresh mozzarella and cut it into cubes instead.)
Parmesan: I always recommend buying a block of parmesan and grating it yourself for the best results. (Block cheese has much better flavor than most pre-shredded cheeses.) We like to grate a little extra parmesan to garnish our salads with later too!
Artichoke hearts: We use quartered artichoke hearts in brine for our pasta salad. (There’s not too much cutting involved and they’re not as oily as marinated artichoke hearts.)
Red onion: Red onion pairs the best with the rest of your ingredients. (It’s mild in flavor and won’t overpower the other flavors.) I recommend keeping your onion slices thin for the best results.
Fresh basil: Adding fresh herbs is an easy way to elevate your pasta salad! In this salad, fresh basil accentuates the pesto’s flavors and adds an earthy component to the dish. Feel free to use as little or as much as you want!
Pesto: Homemade or store bought pesto can be used for this recipe. (I use my homemade kale pesto for ours. I love that it’s loaded with extra nutrients!)
Spices: Cracked black pepper is all you need to seasoning your pasta salad.
How To Make Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad
1. Cook the tortellini. Boil the tortellini according to the package’s directions. Then drain them using a colander and run the tortellini under cold water to cool. Set them aside to cool completely once done.
2. Prep the rest of your salad ingredients. Chop the artichoke hearts, slice the onion and basil and shred the parmesan cheese. (If using homemade pesto, make your pesto at this time.)
3. Toss. Add the cooled tortellini, sun-dried tomatoes, chopped artichokes, mozzarella balls, shredded parmesan, sliced onion and fresh basil to a large bowl. Pour your desired amount of pesto over the top and toss until the salad is coated to your liking. Season with cracked black pepper and toss again. (At this point you can cover the salad and keep it chilled in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving.)
4. Serve. Serve each bowl with extra shredded parmesan cheese and fresh basil sprinkled over the top (if desired).
Switch up the tortellini! Try using spinach and cheese tortellini, sausage filled or even chicken and cheese filled tortellini instead! (Buitoni has some delicious options – check them out here!)
Add some protein! Cooked diced chicken or thinly sliced salami are both great additions!
Add toasted pine nuts! Toast the pine nuts in the oven at 375 degrees for 5-6 minutes or until they’re lightly golden. (They add texture and a little extra nuttiness to the salad!)
Store your leftover pasta salad in an air tight container in the refrigerator. It should stay good for up to 4-5 days.
I always suggest keeping extra pesto on hand to use for your leftover pasta salad. (The tortellini has a tendency to soak up the pesto while it sits which can make the salad a little dry. Just a quick toss in a spoonful of pesto right before serving is all you need!)
Why you’ll love this tortellini pasta salad recipe!
- A quick & easy meal! Most of these ingredients are already prepped for you! Just toss them all together & dinner in ready in no time!
- Perfect for meal prep! This salad keeps well in the refrigerator making it a great option for meal-prepped lunches during the week!
- So much flavor! It’s loaded with flavorful ingredients! Tangy sun-dried tomatoes, salty artichokes & nutty parmesan really amp up the pesto’s bright and zesty notes!
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Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad
- 20 oz. cheese tortellini, dry
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella pearls
- 1 (14 oz.) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
- ½ cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil)
- ⅓ cup shredded parmesan (plus more for garnish)
- ⅓ cup fresh basil, sliced
- ¼ cup red onion, thinly sliced
- ½-¾ cup pesto (homemade or store bought)*
- Cracked black pepper, to taste
- Cook the tortellini. Boil the tortellini according to the package’s directions. Then drain them using a colander and run the tortellini under cold water to cool. Set them aside to cool completely.
- Toss. Once the tortellini are cool, add them to a large bowl with the mozzarella pearls, chopped artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, shredded parmesan, fresh basil and red onion.Pour your desired amount of pesto over the top and toss until the salad is coated to your liking. Season with cracked black pepper and toss again. (At this point you can cover the salad and keep it chilled in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving.)
- Serve. Serve each bowl with extra shredded parmesan cheese and fresh basil sprinkled over the top (if desired).