This tortellini pesto pasta salad is a bright and flavorful dish that’s great as a summer side dish or party food. Together it combines cheesy pasta is tossed in a lemony pesto and served with fresh tomatoes and lots of basil!
Are you craving a delicious but flavorful summertime pasta salad recipe?
Well, look no further than this pesto tortellini salad! It’s packed full of cheesy tortellini, fresh halved cherry tomatoes, arugula, homemade pesto, and fresh mozzarella.
It’s the perfect balance of flavors and is great for parties, easy summer meals, or a light side dish.
The pesto is made fresh with a burst of lemon, pine nuts, Parmesan, and of course, fresh basil.
This tortellini salad is guaranteed to make your whole family happy!
Ingredients for pesto tortellini salad
- Pesto – I used a homemade pesto to really boost up the flavor of this tortellini salad. Made with pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon, and olive oil.
- Cheese tortellini – I’m using cheese tortellini but spinach tortellini would also be delicious!
- Arugula – This adds a fresh peppery bite to the pasta salad. Plus it holds up well to storage.
- Cherry tomatoes – I’m using cherry tomatoes because they’re a great size and they hold together well in the pasta salad.
- Mozzarella – Helps add even more cheesy creaminess to the pasta salad! I love the texture and flavor of fresh mozzarella with tomatoes and basil.
- Fresh basil – Garnish or chop up more for added flavor!
Using store-bought pesto
If you’re looking to make this pasta salad even easier you can 100% use store-bought pesto.
Although I LOVE making my pesto from scratch it’s hard when you’re short on time.
You’ll want to add 3/4-1 cup of store-bought pesto to the dish.
Adding protein to pasta salad
This recipe is a great vegetarian-based pasta salad but if you’re looking to add protein it works well!
Stirring in grilled chicken, shrimp, or even chopped salami or pepperoni would be a great option.
Mix in options
If you want to bulk up this salad even further you can add in diced roasted red peppers, black olives, marinated artichoke hearts or chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
Not a fan of pesto? Try a bottled balsamic or Italian dressing.
Craving a different cheese? Add in some crumbled feta, shaved Parmesan cheese, or cubed smoked mozzarella.
Storage and leftovers
Store tortellini salad in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
If you have mixed in grilled chicken or shrimp you may have to adjust how long it can be stored based on ingredients.
More pasta salad recipes
- Looking for more pesto? Try my Pesto Pasta Salad.
- Craving roasted vegetables and pasta? Try my Roasted Vegetable Tortellini Salad.
- Want an old-fashioned classic? Try my Classic Macaroni Salad.
- Need a delicious summer dinner salad? Try my Herbed Shrimp Orzo Salad.
For the Pesto
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the Tortellini Salad
- 1 large package (20 ounces) cheese tortellini
- 1-1/2 cups fresh arugula
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup small mozzarella balls
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- Fresh basil, for garnish
For the Pesto
- Add the pine nuts, garlic, and lemon juice to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped.
- Next, add the basil leaves and parmesan cheese. Pulse until the basil is finely chopped.
- With the food processor on low speed, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Pulse until the pesto is smooth and well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed.
- Set aside until ready to use.
For the Pasta Salad
- Cook the cheese tortellini according to the package directions. Cooking times will vary.
- Drain the tortellini and run it under cold water until it is no longer warm to the touch, about 30 seconds.
- Add the tortellini to a large bowl.
- Add the pesto and stir gently to coat the pasta with pesto.
- Add the arugula, tomatoes, mozzarella, and pine nuts. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Enjoy immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. I prefer to enjoy this pasta salad at room temperature but it can be enjoyed cold as well.
You can use storebought pesto in place of homemade - use 3/4-1 cup.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 283Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 218mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 8g
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.