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Simple Cheese Tortellini Pasta Salad

This Simple Cheese Tortellini Pasta Salad is one of my most requested and delicious recipes. I’ve been making it since I lived on the East Coast. This simple pasta salad packs a lot of punch with salty olives, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, marinated mushrooms, and red onions. It is finished in Italian dressing for the final touch. You can also use your favorite homemade Italian dressing if you prefer.

simple cheese tortellini salad
Simple cheese tortellini pasta salad

Pasta salad: The best Summer salad

Pasta salad is the BEST Summer salad. Everyone has a favorite that you love whipping up for gatherings. I make several versions of pasta salad, but not all of them are on my site yet. However, pasta salad is a summertime must-have like my Lemon Arugula Pasta Salad, a fan favorite. This Simple Cheese Tortellini Pasta Salad is a classic. The cheese tortellini and all the varieties of pantry favorites work well together.

Pasta salad basics

If this is your first time making pasta salad, I can offer tips on creating an excellent pasta salad. Several years back, I learned some great tips from one of my chef friends, and I continue to use them today. These are the basics that I always stick to:

  • A good pasta shape has plenty of pockets to capture the dressing. The perfect candidates are Farfalle, rotini, fusilli, and cavatappi (used in my Mediterranean Pasta Salad).
  • A good quality, full-flavored and full-fat dressing. A vinaigrette works best, but sometimes, creamy styles are excellent, depending on the salad.
  • A variety of sturdy vegetables that hold up to the acidity of the dressing. What’s a sturdy vegetable? Zucchini squash, cucumbers, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, red onions, and pantry items like artichoke hearts are great examples. (If you love artichoke hearts, try my One Pan Artichoke Chicken Bake, so good!)
the best shapes for pasta salad
The best pasta shapes for pasta salad: farfalle, rotini, fusilli, and cavatappi

Why use Tortellini for this pasta salad

This pasta salad uses stuffed cheese pasta, which works perfectly for pasta salad. So, what is tortellini? Tortellini pasta is the shape of a small bundle filled with cheese, and it is perfect for holding dressing in the nooks and crannies of the bundle. In addition, the bite of cheese is ideal for a cold salad and is complimentary. Tortellini pasta is often purchased fresh because it has fresh cheese in it. Typically, it’s found in the grocery store’s refrigerated section, where other fresh kinds of pasta are found, like Ravioli. I find this and other fresh pasta incredibly delicious and versatile. I use cheese stuffed Ravioli in my Italian Cheese Ravioli with Burst Tomatoes for an incredible and fast dinner. A bonus is that stuffed refrigerated pasta can be purchased in small 10-ounce containers for smaller-sized salads and large 20-ounce sizes.

Ingredients

  • A 20-ounce container of refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup of oily pitted black olives: kalamata is a good variety for taste or marinated pitted Italian olives
  • 1 cup of roasted red pepper strips, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1, 14.5-ounce jar of marinated quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1/2 cup of finely diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup of marinated mushrooms, drained
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup of good store-bought Italian dressing (add more if you prefer)
ingredients for simple cheese tortellini pasta salad
Ingredients for my Tortellini pasta salad

How to make this Simple Cheese Tortellini Pasta Salad

This is one of the easiest pasta salads you will ever make, mainly if you use a store-bought Italian dressing. Feel free to adjust the ingredients to your tastes. If you love roasted red peppers, feel free to add more. If you love extra cheese? Sprinkle more on! This is an easy salad to customize to your tastes.

In a 4 quart pot, bring 3 quarts of water to boil. Add a large pinch of kosher salt. Once the water is boiling, add the fresh tortellini and cook for half of the time as directed on the package. The main reason for this is that the tortellini will cook al dente. We want the pasta to be firm to the bite and hold up to the dressing and the ingredients. Once the pasta is cooked, rinse well under cold water. Place drained pasta in a large bowl. Toss the pasta with two tablespoons of olive oil. This will help prevent the salad dressing from fully absorbing into the pasta. Allow to cool for a few minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Once the tortellini is cooled, add olives, roasted red pepper strips, artichoke hearts, diced red onion, and mushrooms. Add the grated cheese and Italian dressing. Toss gently so all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Adjust the dressing as needed. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.

Variations and substitutions

This delicious pasta salad is fully customizable. Below are some variations instead of the jarred ingredients in my pasta salad. These work well with this Simple Cheese Tortellini Pasta Salad and an excellent Italian dressing.

  • Chopped Proscuitto + artichoke hearts + cubed Fontina cheese
  • Fresh cherry tomatoes + fresh basil + fresh mozzarella balls
  • Simple Balsamic Roasted Vegetables + cubed Asiago cheese
  • Arugula + sun-dried tomato strips in oil + shredded parmesan cheese

How to serve and store pasta salad

I like to chill the salad for an hour or so before serving. Once it is ready to serve, toss it and check the dressing to ensure plenty of dressing on the Simple Cheese Tortellini Pasta Salad.

Refrigerate leftovers in a container with a tight-fitting lid. The pasta salad is good for up to 3 days in the fridge. This tortellini salad is perfect for meal prep and makes a delicious lunch on a bed of baby lettuce. You can add some rotisserie chicken for added protein.

close up of simple cheese tortellini salad

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tortellini pasta salad in large bowl with yellow napkin

Simple Cheese Tortellini Pasta Salad

Ana P @ Claudia’s Table
July 4, 2024
This simple pasta salad packs a lot of punch with salty olives, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, marinated mushrooms, and red onions. It is finished in Italian dressing for the final touch. You can also use your favorite homemade Italian dressing if you prefer.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
resting time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Brunch, Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American, Italian, Mediterranean
Servings 8
Calories 432 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 5-quart pot
  • 1 colander
  • 1 bowl medium
  • 1 cutting board
  • 1 knife
  • 1 set measuring cups
  • 1 set measuring spoons

Ingredients
  

  • A 20-ounce container of refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup of oily pitted olives: kalamata is a good variety for taste or marinated pitted Italian olives
  • 1 cup of roasted red pepper strips chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 14.5 ounce marinated quartered artichoke hearts drained
  • 1/2 cup of marinated mushrooms drained
  • 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup of finely diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup of good store-bought Italian dressing or your favorite homemade Italian dressing

Instructions
 

  • In a 4 quart pot, bring 3 quarts of water to boil. Add a large pinch of kosher salt.
  • Once the water is boiling, add the fresh tortellini and cook for half of the time as directed on the package. The main reason for this is that the tortellini will cook al dente. We want the pasta to be firm to the bite and hold up to the dressing and the ingredients.
  • Once the pasta is cooked, rinse well under cold water. Place drained pasta in a large bowl.
  • Toss the pasta with two tablespoons of olive oil. This will help the salad dressing from being fully absorbed onto the pasta. Allow to cool before adding the rest of the ingredients.
  • Add olives, roasted red pepper strips, artichoke hearts, diced red onions and mushrooms.
  • Add the grated cheese and Italian dressing.
  • Toss gently so all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  • Adjust the dressing as needed.
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.

Notes

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 432kcal

Nutritional information is calculated online and should be used as a guide.

Keyword cheese tortellini, easy pasta recipe, pasta salad, tortellini, tortellini pasta salad

All content and photographs ©Claudia’s Table and claudiastable.com

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