Tortellini Pasta Salad

tortellini pasta salad closeup
The Spruce / Diana Rattray
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 8 mins
Chill: 60 mins
Total: 88 mins
Servings: 8 to 10 servings
Yields: 2 1/2 to 3 quarts
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
426 Calories
24g Fat
36g Carbs
18g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 10
Amount per serving
Calories 426
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 24g 30%
Saturated Fat 8g 41%
Cholesterol 63mg 21%
Sodium 1191mg 52%
Total Carbohydrate 36g 13%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 18g
Vitamin C 7mg 35%
Calcium 235mg 18%
Iron 2mg 13%
Potassium 372mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A delicious, crowd-pleasing tortellini salad is a snap to make with fresh pasta, chopped vegetables, and a simple semi-homemade salad dressing. The pasta salad is perfect for a cookout, picnic, or potluck. The sky's the limit when it comes to variations. Increase the vegetables if you like, or use more meat for a heartier dish. If you're serving vegetarians, feel free to omit the meat or serve it separately on the side.

With the salami and cheese, the salad packs enough protein to make it a satisfying dinner or lunch dish. This robust salad is an excellent choice for a hot-weather meal.

Ingredients

For the Salad:

  • 20 ounces cheese tortellini (tri-color or plain)

  • 2 cups grape tomatoes (halved)

  • 6 to 8 ounces salami or ham (diced)

  • 1 cup cucumber (diced)

  • 1 cup spinach (fresh, coarsely chopped)

  • 1/2 cup red onion (thinly sliced)

  • 1/2 cup black olives (or more, sliced or halved)

  • 4 to 6 ounces mozzarella cheese (pearls, balls, shreds, or cubes)

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)

  • 1 dash kosher salt (or to taste)

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped basil

  • 1/2 cup pepperoncini (or 8 to 10 peppers)

For the Dressing:

  • 1 1/2 cups Italian salad dressing

  • 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (freshly grated)

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, the instructions are broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Prepare the Salad

  1. Gather the salad ingredients.

    ingredients for tortellini pasta salad
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  2. Cook the tortellini in salted water following the package directions. Transfer the pasta to a colander and rinse with cold water to stop any carryover cooking.

    drain and rinse the tortellini
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  3. In a large bowl, combine the tortellini, grape tomatoes, salami or ham, cucumber, spinach, red onion, black olives, and mozzarella cheese. If desired, add pepperoncini and basil. Gently fold the ingredients together, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate the salad until about an hour before you plan to serve it.

    tortellini pasta salad with vegetables, cheese, and salami
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Prepare the Dressing and Assemble the Salad

  1. Gather the salad dressing ingredients.

    ingredients for salad dressing
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  2. Combine the salad dressing, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and onion powder in a large screw-top jar, cruet, or bowl. Shake or whisk to combine the ingredients thoroughly.

    semi homemade italian salad dressing
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss to combine. 

    tortellini pasta salad and semi homemade dressing
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  4. Refrigerate the salad for at least 1 hour before serving. Toss again, then add any garnishes if desired. Enjoy!

    tortellini pasta salad in a serving bowl
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Why do you rinse pasta for salad?

Rinsing the pasta cools it down for the cold salad and helps keep it from sticking together.

How should pasta be cooked for a pasta salad?

For pasta salad, the pasta should be fully cooked, or slightly over. Chilling will firm it up to the perfect texture.

Can a pasta salad be made ahead?

The pasta and vegetables may be prepared and tossed together a few days ahead of time. For best flavor and texture, dress the salad just before serving or no more than 1 day before serving.

How to Store

  • Refrigerate leftover tortellini salad in a covered airtight container. Refrigerated pasta salad will keep for up to 4 days.
  • For outdoor serving, make sure to keep the tortellini salad cold at all times. It should not be left under 40 F for more than 2 hours—1 hour if the temperature is 90 F or hotter. Ideally, keep the salad in a well-insulated cooler on ice or nestle the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice. 

Recipe Variations