This fresh, vibrant, and utterly delicious Tortellini Salad feeds a crowd on a dime. My favorite part? It only takes a few minutes to put together. Plus, you can make it ahead of time and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days. Win! Win! Win! It’s perfect for picnics, potlucks, or a light lunch at home. Get ready to put this Tortellini Salad recipe on repeat!
What is Tortellini Salad?
Tortellini is a type of pasta stuffed with meat, vegetables, or cheese, then shaped into a small ring. To make the salad, the cooked and cooled tortellini is mixed with summer vegetables, herbs, greens, and a vinaigrette. Sometimes chopped cured meats or pickled peppers are added. For me, the pure joy of it is that it comes together in three steps, it’s super filling, and it’s a perfect choice for when you have an army to feed but don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.
Ingredients for Tortellini Salad
The pasta is the star here, and though you can use any kind of tortellini, we chose cheese tortellini to keep the flavor profile simple. Here’s what you need to make Tortellini Salad:
- Tortellini– any kind will do. If you can’t access this ingredient, substitute it with rotini, farfalle, penne, orecchiette, or gnocchi. (And call it Pasta Salad!)
- Cherry tomatoes – these bring a pop of color and a touch of sweetness and acidity to the party. If you’re not a fan of tomatoes, try using red bell peppers instead.
- Red onion– sharp, assertive, and spicy, this ingredient is a great way to break up the fattiness of the tortellini. You can substitute with green onion, white onion, or yellow onion.
- Summer vegetables like squash and zucchini– these fresh veggies add more texture than flavor and also help bulk up your salad. Substitute with cucumber or carrots.
- Black olives– add a touch of brininess. Substitute with green olives or capers.
- Baby spinach and Italian Pasley– add herbaceous peppery notes. Substitute the spinach with kale or arugula. If you’re not a fan of parsley, use basil.
- Parmesan cheese – helps round out the flavors and adds a touch of nuttiness.
- Italian Dressing– pulls everything together and adds zing. Substitute with any lightly flavored vinaigrette.
Tips For Making The Best Tortellini Salad
- You can use store-bought Italian dressing for convenience, but for a more flavorful salad, use our recipe for Italian Dressing.
- Bulk up the salad with more low-cost, in-season veg to transform a pound of tortellini into 16 servings instead of 12. Use any fresh veg, greens, and fresh summer herbs you have on hand. Just cut everything in similar sizes.
- Add a little acidity and heat with pickled cherry peppers or banana peppers.
- For a heartier salad, add chopped grilled chicken or shrimp. Or try adding chopped salami.
What To Serve with Tortellini Salad
Though it makes a wonderful meal on its own, you can also serve Tortellini Salad as part of a larger meal, like a backyard barbecue or picnic. It’s a perfect side for Greek Marinated Chicken or Quick Garlic Butter Shrimp. I love serving it with No-Knead Homemade Focaccia and Balsamic Roasted Vegetables.
How To Store Tortellini Salad
Tortellini salad keeps up to 3 days in the fridge. Just make sure to store leftovers in an airtight container. If you want to make the salad ahead of time, I recommend making the tortellini, chopping and salting the squash and zucchini, and prepping the rest of the ingredients. Add the tortellini to a large container and top with the veg and then the greens. Mix with Parmesan and dressing when you’re ready to serve.
- 1 summer squash ($1.10)
- 1 zucchini ($0.75)
- 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes ($3.00)
- 1/2 red onion ($0.38)
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach, packed ($1.49)
- 1/2 cup sliced black olives ($1.99)
- 3/4 cup Italian dressing ($1.42)
- 1/2 cup chopped Italian Parsley ($0.30)
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese ($0.33)
- 1 lb cheese tortellini ($4.79)
- First, cook the tortellini according to the package directions. Then drain well and cool in a very large bowl in the fridge.
- While the tortellini is cooking, slice the summer squash and the zucchini into 1/4-inch rounds and then quarter the rounds. Add them to a large bowl and sprinkle with salt and mix.
- Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. Slice the red onion in 1/4 inch half moons and soak it in cold water to dull its sharp flavor. Chop the parsley, and if the baby spinach leaves are large, chop them as well.
- Once the tortellini has cooled, top it with the cherry tomatoes, red onion, zucchini, squash, baby spinach, and sliced black olives. Then drizzle with 1/2 cup of Italian dressing.
- Next, top the salad with chopped Italian parsley and Parmesan cheese. Then drizzle with the final 1/4 cup of Italian dressing. Finally, mix, and serve! Wasn't that easy?
See how we calculate recipe costs here.
How to Make Tortellini Salad – Step By Step Photos
First, cook one pound of tortellini according to the package directions. Then drain well and cool in a very large bowl in the fridge.
While the tortellini is cooking, slice the summer squash and the zucchini into 1/4-inch rounds and then quarter the rounds. Add them to a large bowl and sprinkle with salt and mix.
Once the tortellini has cooled, you’re ready to assemble. First, top the tortellini with the zucchini and squash, 1 pint of halved cherry tomatoes, 1/2 sliced red onion, 2 cups fresh baby spinach, and 1/2 cup sliced black olives. Then drizzle with 1/2 cup of Italian dressing.
Next, top the salad with 1/2 cup of chopped Italian parsley and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Then drizzle with the final 1/4 cup of Italian dressing.
Finally, mix, and serve! Wasn’t that easy? Now go feed your army and enjoy your time with them instead of spending it in your kitchen!
Delicious! I opted to roast my squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and onion and make this a hot dish. I also added cannellini beans to make it an all-in-one dinner. It was so easy (I was able to prep it all while in a meeting) and a big hit. Perfect for summer – definitely going in the rotation!
I made this tonight and even made the Italian dressing from scratch following the recipe. It was a big crowd pleaser. I grilled my yellow and green squash just right, which added a bit more complexity and “summer time.” Love this salad!!
Hi Monti! I’ve never used (or eaten) summer squash before. Do you peel it, or just wash well & proceed? And – don’t the drained tortellini stick together, when cooling in the fridge? We were taught to rinse with cold water, and not drain thoroughly, if it’s only going to be in the fridge a short time. Thanks!
Hi Terry, for the summer squash you just wash and chop, no need to peel. :) The tortellini shouldn’t be in the fridge quite long enough to start sticking, so you should be good there. If you prefer to rinse with cold water to cool it down you can do that, just make sure it drains really well before adding it to the salad so the salad doesn’t get watery!
The cost of ingredients in the recipe is less than the total indicated up top. Looks yummy and I plan to make it soon.
This looks so good! Can I make it a day in advance and store in the fridge?
Yes, absolutely. Make sure to give it a good stir before serving so the dressing gets redistributed. :)
Do you have to cook the squash?
So delicious and fresh!! This one is definitely a keeper!
I am curious about the directions for cutting the squash. Why would you cut into rounds first and then quarter each round? Much easier to cut lengthwise in half and then half again (quarters) then slice those logs….
Do what works best for you! I don’t quarter the rounds individually. I stack them in three stacks and then quarter, so it’s 6 strokes. xoxo -Monti
You forgot to indicate in the pictures when to add the squash :)
Fixed, thank you! :)
I double-checked, and didn’t see adding the squash in the written instructions! I only saw it in the pictures. (Poor neglected squashes)
Haha! I hope the squashes forgive me… 😅 I think last time I added it to the pictures and not the recipe card! Now it should be fixed for REAL.