Served cold and built to feed a crowd, the world’s favorite cheese-filled pasta just caught a zesty Italian makeover, and it’s the perfect side dish for your summer BBQ! Tortellini Pasta Salad features tortellini tossed with zesty Italian dressing and a delicious combination of marinated artichokes, grape tomatoes, olives, sliced pepperoni, and more!
This crowd-pleasing side dish is made extra easy, and most importantly extra delicious, thanks to a combination of fresh ingredients and pantry staples! Like all pasta salads, you’ll find this one super customizable. Look to the “Ingredients” section to find out all the ways to make it your own.
Eat it right away, or make it ahead, chill it, and serve it cold for the party! Either way, you can’t go wrong with flavors like this. You’ll also love this Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad — bookmark it for next time!
HOW TO MAKE TORTELLINI PASTA SALAD
- Cook the Pasta
- Dress the Pasta
- Prep Veggies and Chop Pepperoni
- Toss and Chill
Cook the Pasta | Remember these two things when it comes to cooking your tortellini pasta! Since you’ll be using fresh pasta, remember not to oversalt the pasta water and take care not to overcook it! Fresh pasta turns to mushy pasta fast! Once the pasta is ready, drain it and run it under cool, running water just until it is no longer steaming.
Dress the Pasta | Transfer the warm pasta to a large mixing bowl and toss it with about a quarter cup of the Italian dressing, along with some salt and pepper. Dressing the pasta while it is still warm helps it to absorb the flavors from the dressing and makes every bite all the more flavorful and delicious! Set it aside and let it “marinate” while you prep the remaining ingredients.
Prep – The prep for Tortellini Pasta Salad really comes down to a bit of chopping. The tomatoes and onions will need to be sliced, and the ready-made/prepared ingredients (such as the pepperoni, marinated artichoke hearts, and pepperoncini peppers) will need to be roughly chopped.
Toss and Chill (or Serve) – Add all of the ingredients to the bowl with the pasta, dress it with the remaining half cup of Italian dressing, and garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley (if using). Then, you can either dive in right away or transfer the mix to the refrigerator to chill until ready to serve!
4 MORE PASTA SALADS YOU’LL LOVE!
INGREDIENTS AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Tortellini Pasta — Tortellini pasta can come equipped with a number of different fillings, but in the case of this Tortellini Salad, stick with the cheese-filled kind and save the protein-stuffed pasta for another dish! Buitoni is my go-to fresh pasta brand, and works beautifully in this pasta salad! It’s a refrigerated product and is often stocked near the deli section.
- Italian Dressing — I like an extra creamy Italian dressing with a nice vinegary bite and a little Parmesan kick. Olive Garden’s Italian dressing fits the bill nicely and is our household go-to. However, you prefer to whip up an Italian dressing from scratch, definitely feel free to do so!
- Tomatoes – Grape tomatoes are great in and out of season, staying sweet and vibrant even outside of the summer months. However, if you happen to have your hands on some homegrown, ripe summer tomatoes, they would be perfect in this Tortellini Pasta Salad! You could also use cherry tomatoes or even deseeded Roma tomatoes.
- Red Onion — The key to the red onion in this salad is to slice it nice and thin and then give them a rough chop. Don’t like onions? No prob. Sub in a shallot or leave it out altogether.
- Artichokes — Marinated artichokes are a flavorful and hearty addition to this dish. You can typically find them in the canned vegetable aisle or bundled on the international aisle alongside other Italian ingredients.
- Pepperoni — Pepperoni is bold, somewhat spicy, and adds a nice smokiness (not to mention some great color) to Tortellini Pasta Salad. Salami and soppressata would do the same, and are completely interchangeable with the pepperoni in this recipe. Need it to be vegetarian? No problem — just nix the meat altogether.
- Olives — If you really love a strong olive flavor, Kalamatas are the olive for you! However, if you like your olives on the mild side, it’s best you reach for the standard black olives at the grocery store!
- Pepperoncini Peppers — Pepperoncini peppers are pickled, mild peppers and you’ll typically find them in the international aisle of your grocery store, bundled with either the Italian or Greek ingredients. They add a nice vinegary bite to the dish, without adding too much heat!
- Parmesan — Is an Italian pasta salad even Italian without Parmesan cheese? Clearly not. Feel free to buy a block of Parmesan cheese and shave it yourself or purchase Parmesan shavings from the deli section of your grocery store. Look for the fancy cheeses, they usually stock it somewhere in there.
MAKE-AHEAD AND STORAGE INFORMATION
The great thing about pasta salad is it is the ultimate make-ahead dish! Whether you’re party prepping or meal prepping, you can’t go wrong with this Italian Tortellini Salad. Whip this dish up, store it covered in an airtight container, refrigerated for 3-4 days.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH TORTELLINI PASTA SALAD
Tortellini Pasta Salad is the perfect companion to any meat that comes off of a grill and goes beautifully with simple, prepared proteins! Below, you’ll find just a few of our favorite main dishes for serving alongside this zesty pasta dish.
5 MORE SUMMER COOKOUT RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE!
- Seven Layer Salad
- Easy Crock-Pot Beans
- Snicker and Apple Salad
- Old-Fashioned Potato Salad
- Shrimp and Avocado Salad (just like ceviche — but with cooked shrimp!)
An easy recipe for an Italian Tortellini Pasta Salad that's served cold, built to feed a crowd, and the perfect side dish for your summer BBQ! Featuring cheese-filled tortellini pasta, grape tomatoes, pepperoni, marinated artichokes, and more.
- 1 (20-ounce) package cheese-filled tortellini (preferably Buitoni)
- 3/4 cup prepared Italian dressing
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/4 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
- 1/2 of a red onion, thinly sliced and then roughly chopped
- 3/4 cup chopped marinated artichoke hearts (drained)
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped pepperoni slices
- 1/2 cup sliced black or Kalamata olives (drained)
- 1/2 cup sliced pepperoncini peppers (drained), roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped Italian parsley (optional)
Cook the tortellini to al dente according to package instructions. Strain and place until cool, running water until no longer steaming. Drain well and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Pour 1/4 cup of dressing over the pasta, season with salt and pepper, toss to coat, and set aside.
Add the remaining ingredients, drizzle with an additional 1/2 cup of Italian dressing, and toss to combine.
Serve right away or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.