Recipe: Tortellini Pasta Salad

With at least two months of good grilling weather left, today I thought I’d share something that’s perfect to bring to your next BBQ. Not only is it quick and simple to throw together, using ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen, it’s easily adaptable to your tastes or what you have available, makes a ton, doesn’t have to be refrigerated, and makes for amazing leftovers.

I first tasted this about 15 years ago when a friend made it for a cookout, and since then I’ve made it on a yearly basis whenever I’m tasked with bringing a side to a food-related get together. 



  • 19 oz tortellini (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup of your favorite Italian salad dressing, plus a little more for serving
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes (cut in half if large)
  • 1 cup fresh basil, loosely packed
  • 1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese balls (you can also sub an 8 oz. bag of shredded, whole milk mozzarella)


  • Cook tortellini according to package directions; drain and set aside until warm, but not hot.
  • While tortellini is cooking, chiffonade the basil.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine tortellini, 1 cup of salad dressing, tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. Mix until everything is well-coated with dressing.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Because the pasta will suck up some of the dressing while it sits, before serving, check to make sure it’s not too dry and give it a little extra if necessary.

*You can adapt this to your own tastes – add sliced olives or bell peppers, use rotini instead of tortellini, substitute feta for mozzarella, etc. The possibilities are endless!


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