This tortellini salad is full of zingy flavor: a delicious pasta salad for picnics and cookouts! Leftovers last for days, so it’s also an easy lunch idea.
Here’s a pasta salad recipe that’s ultra versatile for picnics, barbecues, and an easy lunch idea: this Tortellini Salad! The tang of the artichoke, chewy pillowy pasta, zippy tomatoes, and peppery basil come together into a symphony of flavor! Even better, it stores up to 4 days in the fridge, making it a perfect easy lunch. We’ve made this more times than we can count already: and it’s irresistibly delicious every time.
The pasta to buy for tortellini salad…tortelloni!
Here’s an important tip for making tortellini salad. Make it with tortelloni pasta! What’s tortelloni vs tortellini?
- Tortelloni is a pasta shape that is larger than tortellini, and it’s got a filled center versus a hole in the middle. Because it’s larger, it’s easier to taste the filling. Tortelloni is easy to find the refrigerated section at your local grocery.
- How to tell the difference quickly? Tortellini has a hole in the middle, tortelloni has a solid center that encloses the filling. Of course, this really makes it a tortelloni salad. But it’s the tastiest pasta for the job!
- Don’t make this pasta salad with frozen or dried tortellini. It’s just not as good! Trust us, we’ve tried it.
Ingredients for tortellini salad
Got your pasta? It’s easy to throw together this tortellini salad once you’ve got the right type. Here’s what else you’ll need:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Fresh basil: optional, but we highly recommend it! It’s especially easy in summer if you have a basil plant
- Parmesan cheese
- Homemade vinaigrette (or purchased dressing)
Use homemade dressing, or shortcut with purchased
This tortellini salad is very easy to throw together: boil the pasta, chop the veggies, then make the dressing! We created a homemade vinaigrette dressing for this salad that makes it beautifully fresh and delicious. Here’s what to note about it:
- The homemade dressing is best flavor-wise. All you need is oil, vinegar, and a few spices. Dried dill makes for an intriguing flavor without overpowering.
- In a rush, use ¾ cup purchased Italian or vinaigrette dressing. It makes it even easier to throw together.
Stores as leftovers for up to 4 days!
This tortellini salad works great as a pasta salad for summer picnics and barbecues, but we also designed it to work for lunches! This one is a fantastic make-ahead pasta salad that lasts for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. We had to work a bit to engineer that flavor to perfection. Here are a few notes for leftover storage:
- Using neutral oil plus olive oil makes store well! Olive oil tends to clump up when it’s cold. How to make olive oil not solidify in dressings in the refrigerator? Add a neutral oil! Using equal parts organic vegetable oil or grapeseed oil makes a vinaigrette that doesn’t solidify. But if you prefer to use all olive oil, feel free! Just beware the salad dressing may clump up (just bring it to room temp before eating).
- You may need to add a few pinches of salt. Some foods become more bland when refrigerated, which is the case with this pasta salad. Taste and add a few pinches salt before serving, if necessary.
More pasta salad recipes
There are lots of great pasta salad recipes for summer or lunches! Once you’ve tried this tortellini salad, here are a few more summer salads to try:
- Try tasty Italian-style Antipasto Salad
- Go classic with Classic Tuna Pasta Salad
- Grab Italian Vegan Pasta Salad
This tortellini salad recipe is…
Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free tortellini. For vegan, use vegan tortellini and skip the Parmesan cheese (add a bit more salt as needed).Print
This tortellini salad is full of zingy flavor: delicious for picnics and cookouts! Leftovers last for days, so it’s ideal as an easy lunch.
- 18 ounces refrigerated cheese tortelloni*
- 2 ½ ounces (2 cups) baby spinach or chopped spinach
- 1 handful fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped (optional but recommended)
- 14 ounce can (8.5 ounce dry weight) quartered artichokes, roughly chopped
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar***
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon each dried dill and garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- Fresh ground black pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup neutral oil (like organic vegetable or grapeseed**)
- ¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Start a large pot of well-salted water to boil. Boil the pasta until al dente according to the package instructions (usually around 2 minutes). Drain the pasta and run it cool water over it until it’s warm.
- Meanwhile while the pasta cooks, chop the spinach, basil and artichoke hearts, and slice the tomatoes. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, dried dill, garlic powder, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Then whisk in the olive oil and neutral oil.
- Once the pasta is done, add it to the large bowl of dressing and toss with the chopped vegetables. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Taste and add salt or more cheese to taste. Serve at room temperature or cold. Stores up to 4 days refrigerated (leftovers taste great and work well for lunches!).
*Tortelloni is large tortellini that you can find in the refrigerated section. It’s best for this salad because standard tortellini is too small.
**Using neutral oil in this pasta salad helps leftovers keep in the fridge: if you use only olive oil, it clumps up after about 1 day of storage. If you’re not planning to have leftovers, you can use 100% olive oil if you prefer.
***In a rush? Substitute ¾ cup Italian dressing or your purchased vinaigrette dressing of choice for the homemade dressing.
- Category: Salad
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Tortellini salad