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Recipe: Tortellini Pesto Salad

Wonderful pasta salad. So different from the Italian dressing pasta salads. Very hearty side dish or main dish for lunch. Crunchy veggies and rich pesto sauce.

Tortellini Pesto Salad Ingredients

  • 1 (9 ounce) package cheese tortellini

  • 1 small red bell pepper, julienned

  • cup broccoli florets, blanched

  • ? cup shredded carrots

  • ? cup pitted green olives

  • 1 clove garlic, chopped

  • cup mayonnaise

  • cup prepared basil pesto

  • cup milk

  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

  • 1 bunch fresh spinach leaves

How to Make Tortellini Pesto Salad

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place tortellini in the pot, and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, until al dente. Drain, and cool.

  2. In a large bowl, mix the cooked tortellini, red bell pepper, broccoli, carrots, olives, and garlic.

  3. In a separate bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, pesto, milk, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and vinegar. Pour over the tortellini and vegetables, and gently toss to coat. Cover, and place in the refrigerator 1 hour, until chilled. Serve over spinach leaves.

Tortellini Pesto Salad Nutritions

  • Calories: 382.8 calories

  • Carbohydrate: 26.1 g

  • Cholesterol: 31.3 mg

  • Fat: 27.3 g

  • Fiber: 3.5 g

  • Protein: 11.2 g

  • SaturatedFat: 6.2 g

  • ServingSize:

  • Sodium: 614.6 mg

  • Sugar: 3.1 g

  • TransFat:

  • UnsaturatedFat:

Tortellini Pesto Salad Reviews


  • Substituted 1 lg red pepper (coarse chopped), reduced broccoli & carrot by 1/4. Omitted olives (wife hates them), split the quantity of pesto between basil pesto and sundried tomato pesto, added cubed proccuito. Absolutely the best pasta salad I have ever tasted

  • I was looking for a pasta salad with a twist and I definitely got what I was looking for This salad was a HUGE hit - with several people asking me for the recipe. I made it exactly to recipe, but added halved cherry tomatoes. Wonderful

  • This is a good recipe, that is not so generic, like so many of your other pasta salad recipes. I followed the recipe completly, except I used roasted red peppers (from a jar) instead of the fresh ones, and I ommited the olives.It was tasty and I received compliments on it from some very picky and not so darring diners. Thanks for the recipe and everyone else who submits recipes, reviews and hints.

  • DELICIOUS I didnt even wait for this salad to get cold before eating a small bowl I followed the recipe as stated except for the olives (didnt have any). Also, my frozen tortellini cooked in 3-4 minutes.

  • Due to the amount of pesto used (and the garlic it contains), I omitted the extra clove, and it was still a bit overpowering. I wanted a unique pasta salad to splurge with, but this may not have been worth the calories to us. Nice to try something different, though

  • If you are looking for bold pesto flavor in your salad, this may not be the recipe for you. The milk in the dressing really helps tame the bold basil flavor. I used the dressing in a tortellini salad with ingredients I had on hand. I used artichokes, roasted red pepper, kalamata, and sun-dried tomato. I like the addition of the spinach leaves so I threw them in. Makes for a pretty salad. I like the dressing, it was good because it was more on the mild side and more suitable for a wide range of taste buds.

  • This was very good. My family does not like olives so, I omitted them and slightly cut down on the milk to make a thicker dressing. I just wanted a pure pasta salad so I did not add the spinach but Im sure it would taste fine with it. The only other thing I did was to add 6 slices of crisp crumbled bacon... very yummy

  • This dressing is SO good It tastes like it came from an Italian deli. I followed the recommendation below to omit the mayo and milk. Thanks for sharing.

  • This was a huge hit at a family gathering. I used tri-colored spirals instead of tortellini, jarred red bell pepper instead of fresh, and omitted the carrots and spinach. I also chopped the green olives so they were spread around nicely in the pasta and not overpowering. I omitted all the dairy except for what was in the pesto, and used balsamic vinegar instead of white so it wasnt too tart. This version wasnt too heavy but still had a unique flavor that had everyone asking for the recipe.

  • Excellent salad. we had leftover grilled chicken breast and threw that in. i followed the dressing recipe exactly and found it to be good. i tasted without the milk & mayo to see if i could go without but i added it because i think it balanced it out the was too tart otherwise. thanks for the recipe

  • This was great though I did not use tortellini, I just used whole wheat spiral macaroni pasta. I had a bit of extra pesto and was feeling for pasta salad so I decided to go ahead with this recipe. I used the veggies called for. I made the dressing with more pesto rather then mayo. Im not too big on mayo based salads. I did not use any extra Parmesan as the pesto I had has a mix Parmgiano-reggiano plus other cheese so I did not see the point. I added in some chopped sun dried tomatoes to finish the dish off. It worked well, a nice twist to mayo based dressings. As for the spinach, I just chopped up baby spinach and added into the pasta salad.

  • Awesome I made my own pesto using the spinach basil pest on this site and I used almost all basil instead of so much spinach and I used almond instead of pine nuts. It was perfect. For this salad, I omitted the green olives since it was great without them. No garlic since there is some in the pesto that I made. Its a keeper pretty much as written

  • Fabulous

  • Absolutely fantastic left out olives mayo and milk tho. Everyone at my friends barbeque fell in love with it. Also quick and easy to make, thanks for the recipe

  • This recipe just didnt do it for me. I thought the pesto flavor was too strong and there werent enough vegetables for all the tortellini.

  • Great without out the mayo 5 stars, otherwise its 3 stars with mayo and milk

  • I just finished making this in preparation for a small get-together / BBQ tomorrow and Im going to have to make another batch as Im snacking on it way too much. This is definitely a yummy salad I used all of the ingredients except the olives (I dont like them), and I didnt add the garlic (mostly because I didnt feel like chopping anything else - I cant see how adding it would spoil anything - my pesto already had garlic too). I also am not a fan of dressings that are too mayonaissey, so I started off with 1/2 the mayo (1/4 cup) and 1/8 cup milk. I kept everything else the same and I was very happy with the results. I should add that my mayonnaise was vege mayonnaise - Nayonnaise - and I used regular Silk as the milk. The package of tortellini I purchased said 13 ozs; I didnt want to have only a little bit left over so used it all. Thanks for sharing this recipe. Im going to have to make another batch in the morning to take to the BBQ because Im off to eat some more.

  • I tried this recipe for a BBQ and it was really very tasty. I used black olives instead of green. I added cherry tomatoes, red onion and grilled chicken pieces. I omitted the broccoli because hubby does not like it. It was a hearty meal. My hubby really like this dish.

  • In college, my favorite little Italian deli served a creamy pesto tortellini salad. Since I moved far, far away Ive been searching for a similar recipe. This is it Creamy and cool and delicious. Yum

  • I made this salad at a family get together in Prior Lake, MN. Everybody absolutely loved it. I liked pretty well, but not as much as everyone else. I had quite a few requests for the recipe. I will be making this salad again.

  • Very good recipe

  • This was FABULOUS The only changes I made, was to substitute the olives for cherry tomatoes, just a personal preferece, YUMMERS

  • Used whole wheat tortellini - very good Will make again

  • I love it

  • Great healthy side with grilled hamburgers

  • I have made this salad several times and it has been a hit. I omit the milk. I have made it with and without olives and it has been well loved Great to serve something a little different.

  • I thought this was wonderful I have made it twice and everyone loved it. i made a few changes by adding sun dried tomatoes and just using regular pasta as a side. BIG HIT EVERYTIME THUS FAR

  • Delicious For a great summery meal try serving with Marinated Rosemary Lemon Chicken.

  • Everyone loved it I doubled the recipe, but only used 3/4 cup of mayo. Enjoy

  • After making homemade basil pesto, I was looking for a quick and easy recipe to use it in...found one I didnt add broccoli or spinach. I did reduce the amount of milk and mayo it called for. And instead of waiting for an hour, I had it for a main dish while it was still warm...very good.

  • I made a triple batch for a luncheon. I really like the subtle pesto flavor and tang of the creamy dressing. Like others, I omitted the olives, they didnt make sense to me with the other flavors in the recipe. I added more broccoli, which I blanched in the pasta water so you didnt get a big crunchy bite and also added some finely shredded, roast chicken breast. Big hit

  • I made this for 35 people for a pre-Holiday party. Everybody loved it and I was asked to make it again for our xmas dinner-fyi-I bought the costco jar of pesto in the fridge section--it was fresh and flavorful. **highly recommended

  • Pretty good. I replaced the mayo with more pesto and added shredded chicken.

  • Delic I didnt serve it over spinach. I used it as a side for wings. I also added some onion and used three cheese tortellini. I also left out the olives and broccoli. But used the carrots and pepper. I am in love with this side dish and will make again and again.

  • Made this with no changes. Very good

  • This is a great pasta salad I left out the mayo and milk and didnt miss it at all. I also left out the olives (dont like them) but kept the rest of the ingredients. This is great either warm or cold. Thanks

  • WONDERFUL I was skeptical of the mayo-vinegar-oil combo, but I followed that part of the recipe, with the pesto & parm cheese- and it was SO GOODOmitted carrots, garlic & spinach, used BLACK OLIVES. (I just cant do green olives with pesto- it sounds kinda gross.)Added frozen broccoli (thawed) and Roasted Red Peppers. Easy to make, and something different for a Potluck. I will be making this againDeelish

  • Took reviewers advice and left out garlic (as pesto had plenty), also used farfalle instead of tortellini and added salami and cheese along with halved cherry tomatoes. Very mild, yet savory taste. Will definitely make again as it is a nice change from oil/vinegar dressing

  • I omitted the olives and finely chopped the veggies. When I make this salad, every last bite gets eaten. Very hearty and good for a crowd.

  • This was a huge hit at our cookout. I made it like it says only with black olives and I added chicken. I thought the creamy dressing was really good and wouldnt have wanted it any other way. Awesome

  • Very good and so easy. Great to serve for company, picnics, BBQs, anything I added fresh cold shrimp to top and it really dressed it up.

  • Thank you for this delicious and versatile recipe. Like other reviewers, I began by not using the milk and mayo; however after trying the dressing I wanted to cut the vinegar flavor and I added 2-3 Tablespoons of light mayo and 2 Tablespoons of milk. I will add cherry tomatoes the next time I make this and a bit more broccoli.

  • I always get rave reviews when I make this salad.

  • Yum

  • Excellent salad. Unlike others, I wanted a more mayo based salad. I omitted the olives & vinegar and increased the mayo, because I added more veggies. I added alot more broccoli as well as some chopped vidalia onion. Wonderful base recipe to adapt to your personal preferences.

  • A friend brought this to my house and it was wonderful. Ive since made it twice and have been asked numerous times for the recipe. It is perfect the way it stated in the recipe. The only deviation I had was to go ahead and mix the bag of spinach in at the end, instead of serving over the spinach. WONDERFUL

  • I used black olives instead of the green, and left the olive oil out because my pesto was quite oily. I am always looking for new salad recipes and this one is delicious

  • Delicious Im going to try this pesto sauce on everything now

  • This was very good, but I really altered the dressing. I used 7 oz. of pesto, 1/4 cup of Mayo, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan, and about 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar.

  • Very tasty- I might try to lighten up the dressing for a healthier version w/ fat-free mayo. But, since this can be eaten as an entree it is a worthwhile splurge.

  • I was looking for a sort of luxury pasta salad to share at a potluck and I thought this would be perfect. Full of ingredients I love and a really different dressing. Even though I only used a small amount of mayo and no milk the flavor of the pesto didnt really pop.

  • Very good I served it warm as I didnt read the recipe until it was too late. But it was still delicious and made for a nice main dish. Only change I made was to use balsamic vinegar and Kalamata olives as suggested by some.

  • I love this We quartered the olives into slivers and used two cubes (ice cube trays) of frozen, homemade pesto. So good

  • You cant go wrong with tortellini and pesto. This was tasty.

  • Absolutely delicious And so simple to make. I actually found a basil pesto that had lots of garlic mixed in with it so I didnt need to add the chopped cloves. This was a huge hit with my boyfriend

  • Took others advice, left out the clove of garlic, added just enough milk to make it mix well. Chopped the red pepper into 1/4 inch chunks and use leftover cooked broccoli. I thought it was great with last nights cold cheese tortellini, but the family was less enthusiastic (probably because Im the only Pesto lover). Fresh basil leaves add nice color too.

  • Everyone liked it. I made it once following the recipe exactly. The next time I omitted the olives and used jarred roasted red peppers because too many in the crowd dont like olives and I forgot to buy peppers. It was just as good. Its a very flexible recipe and we will make it again.

  • Used less dressing than called for but loved this salad

  • I have made this a few times, adjusting the veggies I put in and once when I wasnt feeling well I did the dressing without milk and mayonnaise, definitely didnt hurt anything.

  • Nice change from the run of the mill pasta salads.

  • Like other reviewers, I didnt use the milk either because I thought the dressing would have turned out too watery for my taste. The result was delicious and we ate it plain, without serving it over spinach.

  • This was absolutely delicious I will definetely be making this again. Thanx

  • Great and simple recipe. So easy to throw together and everyone loves it. The recipe itself is great but I have also made some substitutions due to lack of ingrediants in the house. Once I even just mixed some fresh pesto with mayo, added salt and pepper and that was it for the dressing. Still turned out great

  • Skipped the oil and vinegar, as well as the milk, as others did. Added much more parmesan and at least a tsp of salt. Halved grape tomatoes were a welcome flavor addition. I julienned the spinach and added over and in salad. Will make again.

  • I followed the recipe. Used a 12oz bag of tri color tortellini to add a bit of color. I also used the Kirkland brand (sold at Cosco) Basil Pesto. Delish Will make again and again

  • This salad is awesome The creamy basil sauce is simple to make, nice light flavor, not overpowering...Perfect I added baby tomatoes to the recipe as well and used black olives instead of green, my three kids loved it

  • It was great. A meal by itself.

  • So good use red, yellow and orange peppers to spice color up

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