This Cheese Tortellini Pasta Salad recipe is the ticket to a flavorful and filling side dish. It is a simple recipe that is ready in about 25 minutes! Packed with fresh veggies, cheese tortellini, and seasoned with a super easy dressing made with a little help from an Italian Dressing Mix packet. Whether you’re planning a picnic, a barbecue, a potluck, or just a simple weeknight dinner, this pasta salad should be on your menu.
Since this is such an easy dish to make we recommend it in a lot of our meal planning resources:
Related: Pasta Salad Packed with Veggies
Ingredients & Tips
The right combo of veggies, pasta and dressing make this a knock-out side dish! For this Cheese Tortellini Pasta Salad, you’ll need the ingredients pictured below:
Cheese Tortellini: Make sure that you are buying a refrigerated or frozen cheese tortellini. It is going to a MUCH higher quality than a shelf stable cheese tortellini.
We love the Rana refrigerated Cheese Tortellini. It cooks up in about 4 minutes and holds up in the pasta salad without falling apart. The cheese on the inside is also nice and creamy, and not overpowering!
We found that the shelf stable cheese tortellini has a tendency to over cook and fall apart, the cheese is also a little gritty on the inside.
Italian Dressing Mix Packet: You will find this in the dressing aisle at your grocery store. It is a dry mix, and will be in a small packet. We have found that the Good Seasonings brand is the best option. Some of the store brands (including Aldi) are a little salty or are a little “off” in flavor.
I like to buy the box of 4 and keep them in my spice cabinet to use in other recipes, such as:
- Italian Meatloaf
- Instant Pot Turkey Meatballs
- Creamy Chicken and Noodles (perfect for fall and winter!!!!!)
Pesto: Adding a little pesto to the dressing really sets this recipe apart from others! It gives it a nice fresh basil flavor that you will love.
I highly recommend finding a refrigerated pesto at the grocery store or making your own Fresh Pesto (then freezing the rest for later).
Or find a really good shelf stable pesto that has basil as one of the first two or three ingredients.
Pepperoncini Peppers: You will find these in the olive/pickle aisle at your grocery store, not in the produce section. They are pickled peppers that have a very nice tang, they are not spicy! You can also sub banana pepper rings if that is easy to find.
Veggies: We found the perfect combo for this pasta salad recipe is tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives, peppers, and red onions.
Parmesan Cheese: As always buy the best parmesan cheese you can. If it looks dry and craggy, like it was cut from a larger wheel, that is going to be delicious. I like to buy a wedge of parmesan cheese and blitz it in my blender for about 20 pulses, then you have fresh grated parmesan cheese ready to use in the fridge.
How To – Step by Step
Making this pasta salad is a breeze. Begin by boiling some salted water for the tortellini.
- Boil Cheese Tortellini
- Prep Veggies
- Mix Dressing
- Stir It All Up
Cook the tortellini pasta according to package instructions until it’s al dente. This will only be a few minutes if you use the refrigerated cheese tortellini.
Once the pasta is cooked, rinse with cold water and set aside.
Meanwhile, chop your cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, and halve your cherry tomatoes and olives. You may also need to slice the pepperoncinis, depending if you bought them whole or sliced.
Add all your veggies to a large bowl.
The magic in this recipe comes from the homemade Italian dressing. Combine the Italian dressing packet, vinegar, water, pesto, minced garlic, and oil in a small bowl and whisk until it emulsifies.
Add the cooked pasta to the veggies, Then drizzle the dressing over top. Stir or toss until well combined.
Now sprinkle on the parmesan cheese and give it one last stir/toss.
Taste for additional salt and/or pepper.
Time to eat!
What To Serve with This Side Dish
Now that you have made an amazing Cheese Tortellini Pasta Salad, what to serve it with? Here are some of our favorite things to serve it with:
- BBQ Pork Tenderloin
- Grilled BBQ Chicken
- Grilled Burgers
- Chipotle Chicken Burgers
- BBQ Meatballs
- Instant Pot BBQ Ribs
You can also spoon this over a bed of lettuce and eat it as a light, veggie heavy lunch.
Recipe Tips To Remember
If this post is TL;DR (too long, didn’t read) here are the tips to remember:
- Use a refrigerated or frozen cheese filled tortellini, not the shelf stable stuff.
- Do not overcook the tortellini. If you are using fresh, it should only need to be boiled for 3 or 4 minutes.
- Rinse the cooked tortellini gently with cold water, that stops the cooking and prevents them from becoming mushy.
- Use a good quality fresh grated or ground parmesan cheese.
- Don’t skip the pesto in the dressing, it adds a wonderful bright flavor.
More Pasta Side Dish Recipes
Cheese Tortellini Pasta Salad Recipe
Cheese Tortellini Pasta Salad
- 16-20 oz refrigerated or frozen cheese tortellini – cooked per pkg directions and rinsed with cold water
- 1 small English cucumber – halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into ¼ inch slices
- 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
- 1 large orange or yellow bell pepper – cut into 1-inch dice
- ½ cup diced red onion
- ⅓ cup sliced black olives
- ½ cup (jarred) sliced pepperoncini peppers – can also use banana pepper rings
- 3 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Whisk together the Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix, vinegar, water, garlic, pesto and oil until emulsified. Set aside..7 oz Pkt. Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix, ¼ cup red wine vinegar, 3 Tbsp. water, 2 garlic cloves, 3 Tbsp. pesto, ½ cup canola or vegetable oil
- Cook the tortellini in boiling, salted water. Make sure you don't over cook the pasta!!16-20 oz refrigerated or frozen cheese tortellini
- Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking and start cooling.
Tortellini Pasta Salad
- Add the cooked and cooled tortellini to a large bowl. Add the cucumber, tomatoes, bell pepper, red onion, black olives and pepperoncini peppers.1 small English cucumber, 1 cup halved grape tomatoes, 1 large orange or yellow bell pepper, ½ cup diced red onion, ⅓ cup sliced black olives, ½ cup (jarred) sliced pepperoncini peppers
- Re-whisk the dressing then pour it over the salad.
- Toss to combine ingredients. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.3 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese, Salt and pepper to taste
- Toss to combine again and serve immediately.
If nutrition facts are provided they are calculated as an estimate to the best of our knowledge.