Picture this: cheese tortellini bathed in a creamy, dreamy pesto sauce…no mayo or sour cream here, my friends! Instead, we’re ramping things up with a little luscious mascarpone cheese for loads of velvety richness. Tossed with savory salami,sharp fontinella cheese, two kinds of tomatoes and olives, this is a pesto tortellini salad that will have you coming back for seconds, thirds, and maybe even fourths (no judgment here!).
There are plenty of reasons why a big scoop of this creamy pesto tortellini salad will be the star of your plate.
- First, it’s incredibly easy to make, requiring just a handful of ingredients.
- Second, it’s versatile, making it suitable for casual weeknight dinners or as the star attraction at your next backyard gathering.
- Finally, it’s a crowd-pleaser – the creamy pesto sauce getting in all the nooks and crannies of that cheese tortellini.
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting hungry!
⇢ Other easy recipes like this you’ll ♥️: pistachio pesto sauce, an unbelievably good bow tie pasta with burrata, or a beyond easy Alfredo pasta salad. Or whip up a batch of pesto eggs for brunch this weekend…so good!
The secret to really creamy pesto pasta salad
p.s. Yes! you can use store-bought pesto! Do yourself a favor and buy the greenest pesto you can find!
⇢ You can find the full ingredient list + measurements in the recipe card directly below.
How to make pesto tortellini salad
If you’re making homemade pesto, the time to do that is now. And then, all you need to do is:
- Cook tortellini in heavily salted water. Be generous! Reserve some pasta water.
- Slice up the salami, cube the fontinella cheese, halve the olives and prep the sun dried tomatoes, if needed.
- Toss the tortellini with the pesto and some pasta water until all the tortellini is coated.
- Add in the meat, vegetables and cheese and toss some more along with some fresh parmesan.
Tortellini pasta salad tips
- Don’t overcook the tortellini. You want it firmer than softer so that it holds up to the ingredients and pesto sauce.
- Start with less pesto. Once it’s mixed with the pasta water, a little goes a long way. Add more to your taste.
- Add salt and pepper to the sauce as opposed to the whole salad.
Storage and serving suggestions
Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Pasta salad isn’t recommended to be frozen.
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Creamy Pesto Tortellini Salad
- 12 oz cheese tortellini
- ⅔ cup sun dried tomatoes, sliced
- ½ cup black olives, sliced
- 5 oz sharp fontinella, cubed; you can also use asiago
- 1 container cherry or grape tomatoes
- ¼ lb salami, sliced into thin strips (julienned)
- ⅓ cup mascarpone cheese
- ⅓ cup pasta water
- ½-1 cup pesto, homemade pesto recipe or store bought
- kosher salt and pepper to taste
- ½ fresh grated parmesan, or more as desired
- fresh basil leaves, sliced for garnish
- Cook the tortellini in heavily salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and drain the tortellini in a colander.12 oz cheese tortellini
- Chop and/or slice the meat, cheese and vegetables.⅔ cup sun dried tomatoes, ½ cup black olives, 5 oz sharp fontinella, 1 container cherry or grape tomatoes, ¼ lb salami
- To a large serving bowl, add the mascarpone along with 1/2 cup of pasta water to start. Mix together until creamy. Stir in the pesto to make a creamy pesto sauce. Taste for seasoning.⅓ cup mascarpone cheese, ⅓ cup pasta water, ½-1 cup pesto
- Add the hot cooked tortellini and toss until the pasta is coated. (If making ahead, only start with half of the dressing and toss with the other half before serving.)
- Add in the chopped veggies, meat and cheese. Toss until all is mixed and coated with dressing.
- Sprinkle over fresh parmesan and garnish with fresh basil leaves.½ fresh grated parmesan, fresh basil leaves
- Start with less pesto initially and add more to taste as desired.
- Season the pesto sauce with salt and pepper instead of the whole salad.
About Lori Murphy
Lori has over 30 years in the food industry as a marketing strategist, culinary instructor and chef for three kids with discerning palates. As the chief content creator at Josie + Nina, Lori is dedicated to helping home cooks create food memories through fresh ingredients and Italian flavors.