This summer pesto tortellini pasta salad is a delightfully fresh twist on a modern classic! We’re taking the classic Italian combo of fresh basil, mozzarella, and bright, juicy tomatoes to assemble this delicious salad.
Italian Pesto Tortellini Salad
Imagine juicy, fresh, perfectly ripe tomatoes, in a salad with gorgeous, soft mozzarella. It’s a hearty salad. We just love the way Italians make salads! The trick is not to overcomplicate things with too many ingredients, and simply embrace the fresh, verdant, natural flavors of what you have available. Italian cuisine is all about feeding the family, and this salad is sure to become a weeknight staple in the warmer summer months.
You can make much of this dinner ahead of time, allowing it to keep cool in the fridge ahead of serving. Just what you want after a long, hot summer day. You don’t need to spend hours slaving away over a hot stove.
What You Need To Make Summer Tortellini Pasta Salad
With this pesto-accented salad, we’re celebrating the colors and flavors of Italian summer. There’s plenty of aroma and flavor just waiting to burst onto your plate. Your key ingredients are:
- Cheese tortellini. A four-cheese tortellini, often packaged as “quattro formaggio” is a great option for this.
- Cooked chicken breast. You can even use the meat from a pre-cooked grocery store rotisserie chicken! For any vegetarians, it’s very easy to keep the chicken out of this recipe. The chicken is mostly here to add some extra protein and body to an already pretty exciting salad.
- Cherry tomatoes. The best cherry tomatoes have a sweet aroma and are firm, not hard, to the touch.
- Fresh mozzarella. Use small, bite-sized balls of fresh mozzarella. You can use bocconcini or ciliegine, or simply try slicing up a larger fresh ball of mozzarella. If you’re lucky enough to have a good Italian grocer nearby, try buffalo mozzarella.
- Roasted bell peppers. You can use jarred bell peppers for this recipe, or roast them yourself. It’s up to you, but the jarred variety is easier for making a salad.
- Basil pesto. Homemade pesto is really easy to make and tastes so much better than the store bought stuff. You can take it easy on yourself and use storebought pesto for this recipe if you like.
- What Italian recipe would be complete without extra virgin olive oil?
How To Make Tortellini Pasta Salad
If you, like us, prefer to make elements of the salad ahead of time from scratch, here’s what to do.
You can cook your chicken up to three days ahead of time. Keep it in the fridge and slice when you want to make the salad. Sliced chicken will dry out more quickly in the fridge than a whole chicken breast.
Up to two days ahead, you can make up your basil pesto. You could even make it a few months out and freeze it, but you might not feel like making a summery pesto in the spring or winter.
Up to a day ahead, you can assemble the salad. Once you’re hungry, it’s time to eat!
Tools For Summer Tortellini Salad
To make this salad, you simply combine all your ingredients in a large bowl, top with pesto, and toss using your salad tongs. That’s it!
Top Tips For Tortellini Salad
- We advise that you halve your cherry tomatoes to go into the salad. This way, their lovely aroma will waft up from the salad as you eat them. They will also lend some moisture to other ingredients in the salad, helping keep the chicken nice and moist.
- A traditional Caprese salad is made from three ingredients: mozzarella, basil, and tomato. The variety of mozzarella and tomato will vary based on what’s available at the time, but fresh basil is pretty much a necessity for this recipe.
- If you make a large batch of pesto ahead of time, you can use it for a variety of purposes. Fresh pesto is a great addition to this delicious summer salad, or you can save it to serve with pasta. You can add it to a sandwich, especially if you have some extra chicken lying around, and make yourself a tasty chicken sandwich. As you’d expect of a sauce from the Italian riviera, pesto goes great with seafood.
More Tortellini Recipes
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