Cold pesto tortellini salad is an easy-to-make pasta recipe you'll want to eat all summer! Store-bought tortellini, tomatoes, basil, pesto, and mozzarella make this easy Caprese pasta salad in about 10 minutes! Serve as a side dish, or add a protein like salmon for a light and easy summer dinner.
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Why You Should Make This Recipe
- Easy ingredients!
- A unique pasta salad recipe!
- Great for summer BBQs, picnics, cookouts, and parties, just like watermelon basil salad.
- Simple Italian Caprese salad flavors.
- Leftovers make a great lunch!
- Make with homemade pesto or store-bought pesto.
- Delicious side dish for grilled meat like pork tenderloin.
- Make a full meal by adding in a protein like salmon or shrimp!
- Fresh, flavorful, and delicious!
- Try this pesto-crusted salmon or pesto chicken salad recipe too!
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here are the ingredients you need to make this recipe. Reference the recipe card at the bottom for exact measurements and the notes below for substitution ideas.
Cherry tomatoes are sweet and juicy and pair perfectly with fresh basil and mozzarella.
Fresh mozzarella cheese is salty and creamy and balances out the flavors of this pesto tortellini salad. Use mozzarella balls or chop small pieces.
Cheese tortellini provides the pasta base of this unique pasta salad recipe. Use either refrigerated fresh, frozen, or shelf-stable cheese tortellini.
Basil provides freshness and aromatic flavor.
Homemade pesto or jarred pesto provides a bold and vibrant flavor and acts as the base dressing of this recipe.
Olive oil helps to thin the pesto keeping the salad from being dry.
Recipe Ingredient Variations
- Feta cheese or Parmesan are great substitutions for mozzarella.
- If you don't care for pesto, you can use an Italian vinaigrette that is more similar to traditional Italian pasta salad.
- Add your favorite veggies (like asparagus or peas!) to create a customized recipe.
- Stir in Greek yogurt for tang, extra protein, and creamy consistency.
- Sun-dried tomatoes may be substituted for cherry tomatoes.
- Pine nuts or chopped walnuts add texture and crunch.
- Lettuces like spinach or arugula can be added to make the recipe even more filling!
Taste and Texture
This is the best unique pasta salad. It has bold flavors of Caprese salad (similar to this bruschetta recipe.)
It has great balance of freshness, boldness, and herb flavor. Tortellini has a slightly tender and chewy texture that pairs well with pesto, basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella.
How to Make Pesto Tortellini Salad
Below are step-by-step instructions for how to cook this recipe. The recipe card at the bottom shows the exact cooking time and temperatures.
Cook tortellini according to the package "al dente" directions.
Drain tortellini in a colander and rinse with cold water.
Place all pesto tortellini salad ingredients in a large bowl and mix gently.
Drizzle with balsamic glaze and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Taste, then season with salt and pepper if needed.
- Drizzle with balsamic glaze for added flavor.
- Cook tortellini to "al dente" package instructions to avoid pasta getting soggy.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
- Rinse pasta under cold water to stop cooking.
- Mini tortellini work very well in this recipe if you can find them!
- Add in olives and chopped red onion for even more bold Mediterranean flavors!
- Freezing is not recommended.
This pasta salad is great to make ahead for a week of healthy lunches! Make it up to 4 days in advance. Stir in additional olive oil before serving.
Pasta salad is great to eat on its own with a protein like salmon, shrimp, or Greek chicken. It is an easy dinner for summer or a great meal prep lunch recipe.
Pesto tortellini salad is a great summer side dish to accompany turkey burgers, pulled pork sandwiches, smoked chicken, or grilled pork tenderloin.
Yes. This recipe is even better when eaten cold and should be stored in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Other Delicious Summer Salads
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Cold Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad Recipe
- 24 oz. cheese tortellini
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- ⅓ cup pesto
- 2 tablespoon fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon olive oil more if needed
- 6 oz. fresh mozzarella
- balsamic glaze for garnish
- Cook tortellini according to the package "al dente" directions.24 oz. cheese tortellini
- Drain tortellini in a colander and rinse with cold water.
- Place all pesto tortellini salad ingredients into a large bowl and mix gently.2 cups cherry tomatoes, ⅓ cup pesto, 2 tablespoon fresh basil, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 6 oz. fresh mozzarella
- Drizzle with balsamic glaze and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Taste, then season with salt and pepper if needed.balsamic glaze
- Cook the tortellini to "al dente" package instructions to avoid the pasta getting soggy.
- Don't skip rinsing the pasta under cold water to stop cooking.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before you serve it.
- Do not freeze this recipe.