30 Minute Pesto Tortellini Salad

4.93 from 26 votes
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30 Minute Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad with asparagus, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes. This Mediterranean-inspired salad can be enjoyed warm or chilled for easy entertaining or weekday lunches.Pesto tortellini pasta salad arranged in a serving bowl topped with lemon wedges

I make this salad on the regular, for both easy entertaining and quick weekday meals, and it’s always a crowd-pleaser.

It may only take 30 minutes to throw together, however it’s bursting with bright flavors and wholesome ingredients.

In fact, you may be surprised at how adding veggies to a package of store-bought tortellini creates such a fresh, healthy lunch.

You can enjoy it at room temperature or chilled, and serve it as an entree or side dish.

I especially love it with a cup of creamy soup (such as this Creamy Tomato Basil Soup).

How to Make Pesto Tortellini Salad

Store-bought fresh tortellini pasta (also used in this Creamy Tortellini Soup) with a simple blend of fresh ingredients transforms your standard pasta salad into a complete, delicious meal.

I love that this salad combines lots of vegetables while still feeling hearty.

It’s brimming with so many delicious Mediterranean flavors and packed with heart-healthy fats. 

The IngredientsRecipe ingredients in separate bowls arranged on a wooden serving platter

  • Cheese Tortellini: I prefer the three-cheese variety. If not available in the refrigerator section, you can also use frozen cheese tortellini. Cook times will likely vary, so just make sure to review the package instructions
  • Asparagus: If making the salad out of asparagus season, green beans are the best substitute. 
  • Pesto: Homemade or store-bought will work! I personally love DeLallo Foods jarred pesto.
  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes: These actually do double duty since you use both the tomatoes and the olive oil from the jar. The oil infuses the salad with even more bright, umami flavor.
  • Artichoke Hearts: Optional, however I love the meaty texture they add.
  • Olives: Look for pitted Kalamata olives, which have a meaty texture and smoky, fruity flavor.
  • Parmesan: The perfect topping because of its salty, nutty flavor.
  • Pine Nuts: For a crunchy garnish. Pine nuts, pepitas, or even walnuts will do the job!
  • Arugula: I like arugula or baby spinach, however you can also use baby kale. Arugula is more delicate, which means it will soften more quickly once tossed in the salad. Just something to keep in mind if you’re making the salad ahead!

The Directions

Prep tip:

  • If you are making the salad ahead, I suggest waiting to add the fresh greens until ready to serve. This helps keep them crisp (arugula, especially).
  • However, if you use baby spinach instead, a little wilting is totally fine. 

Step 1: Cook Tortellini and Asparagus

  • Prepare tortellini according to package instructions in a pot of boiling water. Use a slotted spoon or spider to transfer cooked tortellini to a paper towel-lined large bowl.
  • Add asparagus to the pot and cook for 2 minutes. Drain, and transfer asparagus to a bowl of ice water.
  • Remove paper towels from bowl with tortellini. Add oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes and toss to combine.
    • (This just gives the pasta extra flavor. Alternatively, you can use a little olive oil).

Tortellini and asparagus being cooked and drained in a strainer

Step 2: Assemble Salad

Drain asparagus and add to bowl with tortellini, along with pesto, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and arugula; toss to combine. Tortellini, asparagus, arugula, pesto, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes being added to a wooden bowl

FAQs and Expert Tips

How to Cook Tortellini:

While cook times may depending on if your tortellini is refrigerated or frozen, it typically boils for around 5 minutes.

Super fresh tortellini may only need 3 to 5 minutes in boiling water, while other varieties may need 7 to 10.

I like cooking my tortellini until just al dente. (Which usually translates to 1 or 2 minutes LESS than the suggested cooking time.) This ensures the pasta retains some texture and doesn’t turn to mush once it’s dressed.

Can Tortellini be Eaten Cold?

Tortellini is delicious warm, chilled, or at room temperature!

In this tortellini pasta salad recipe, we cook the tortellini and then slightly cool it so it’s eaten closer to room temperature.Tortellini pasta salad being tossed with wooden utensils in a bowl

Recipe Variations:

  • Add Meat: Such as cubes of salami or pepperoni, or shredded rotisserie chicken.
  • Add Feta instead of Parmesan for more Greek-inspired flavors.
  • Use Red Pesto instead of green pesto to switch it up!

Serving Suggestions:

Storage Tips:

  • Store: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
    • The arugula will wilt after the salad is dressed. I personally don’t mind this, but if you prefer a heartier green, I suggest using baby spinach instead.
    • Drizzle the salad with extra-virgin olive oil and/or a squeeze of lemon juice to help wake up the flavors.

Pesto tortellini pasta salad arranged on a serving plate topped with parmesan

More Pasta Salad Recipes to Try:

Healthy Creamy Pasta Salad

Chopped Greek Pasta Salad

Zucchini Orzo Salad with Pepperoncini Dressing

If you give this pesto tortellini pasta salad a try, snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth so I can see your beautiful creations. I also really appreciate readers taking the time to leave a rating and review!

Lastly, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates.

4.93 from 26 votes

30 Minute Pesto Tortellini Salad

Easy Pesto Tortellini Salad with asparagus, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes. This vegetarian, Mediterranean pasta salad can be enjoyed warm or chilled for easy entertaining or a quick weekday meal.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6

Equipment

Ingredients  

  • 1 lb. refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 8 oz. fresh asparagus trimmed and sliced into thirds
  • 1/2 cup pesto (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 (14-oz.) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil sliced (plus 2 Tbsp. oil from jar)
  • 1/3 cup sliced kalamata olives (optional)
  • 2 to 3 cups fresh arugula or baby spinach
  • 3 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted (optional)
  • 1/3 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for serving
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Instructions 

  • Prepare tortellini according to package instructions in a pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Use a slotted spoon or spider to transfer cooked tortellini to a paper towel-lined large bowl.
    To the same pot of boiling water, add asparagus and cook for 2 minutes. Drain, and transfer asparagus to a bowl of ice water.
    Remove paper towels from bowl with tortellini. Add 2 Tbsp. of oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes and toss to combine. (This just gives the pasta extra flavor. Alternatively, you can use 2 Tbsp. of olive oil).
  • Drain asparagus and add to bowl with tortellini, along with pesto, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, olives (if using), and arugula; toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Add pine nuts, Parmesan, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Give the salad a final toss and serve.

Notes

  • Store: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
    • The arugula will wilt after the salad is dressed. I personally don't mind this, but if you prefer a heartier green, I suggest using baby spinach instead.
    • Drizzle the salad with extra-virgin olive oil and/or a squeeze of lemon juice to help perk up the flavors.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 350kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 720mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 3.5g

I calculate these values by hand to ensure accuracy, however expect up to a 10% variable depending on food brands.

If you love this recipe, please leave a star rating and review below!

 

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Recipe Rating




21 Comments

  1. Paula says:

    4 stars
    Delicious & Very easy to pull together. Sprinkled with some balsamic vinegar & red pepper flakes which added acid & a little spicy kick

    1. Ashley Caruthers says:

      5 stars
      Another amazing recipe, Jaime! The crunchy asparagus really elevates it with the cheesy tortellini. It’s hard not to eat more than my serving with this one. I add red chili flakes for added spice or I use cholulas spicy garlic sauce with it.

    2. Rebecca Seaman says:

      5 stars
      Made this yesterday and it was a huge hit. I loved it. What I appreciate about the recipe is the alternatives you suggest to go with it – for me this is awesome. Asparagus isn’t in season in Ontario Canada in December but green beans were a great alternative that I wouldn’t have thought of. Thank you.

  2. JessaLea says:

    5 stars
    Yeah, this IS really good and easy. I subbed roasted red pepper and walnuts for sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts, added a little lemon juice. So yum.

  3. Sue says:

    4 stars
    This salad is delicious! I also added a little lemon zest and juice.

  4. Christa P says:

    5 stars
    This is probably the first dish I’m ever rating, but I had to rate this one. This is probably the most delicious dinner I’ve ever made in my life. I omitted the pine nuts cause, you know, inflation, but it didn’t need them. I cannot put into words how delicious this is!