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Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad

This Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad is an easy pasta salad recipe that can be ready in less than 20 minutes! Perfect for warm summer weather, it is made with 6 ingredients including a delicious pesto dressing.

Table of contents

If there is one sauce besides spaghetti sauce that my kids love, it’s pesto, especially my lemon pesto. My littlest ones have still been hesitant deviating from the one or two pasta shapes that they like.

So we’ve been trying to help them overcome this hesitancy by swapping pasta shapes but keeping their favorite sauces. With picky eaters, the best way forward is trying to make small changes to their favorites.

Tortellini are delish round filled pastas, similar to raviolis, differing mainly in their shape and the amount of filling in them. They can be filled with many different things from meat to veggies to cheese. I always find that the cheese ones are most palatable for my pickiest eaters so we start there and then branch out.


There is a lot of room to make swaps with this dish. You can use fresh or frozen tortellini, just make sure to adjust the cooking time and follow the package directions.

Also, you can use cherry tomatoes or larger tomatoes and chop them. I also love heirloom tomatoes for the color variation.

Use fresh mozzarella which is soft, instead of the harder deli style mozzarella. If you cannot find the mini mozzarella pearls, you can cut up the larger mozzarella roll into bite size pieces.

Finally, use store bought pesto if you are in a pinch, or go ahead and make your own. It is very easy to make your own pesto so don’t hesitate to make it at home. You can make pesto with other greens, like kale or spinach, and other nuts like almonds, pistachios, or cashews.

Top Tips

If you have your own garden, get the kids involved in growing edible plants. Tomatoes and basil are a great place to start because they are easy to grow and can be grown anywhere, including in containers.

This is also a great opportunity to involve the kids in the cooking process. The basil can be cut using kid scissors and the tomatoes are easy to cut with a small paring knife. Kids can also help with the pouring and mixing.

Homemade pesto can be easily made in a food processor or blender so it is easy to make with kids. Involve your children in as many of the different steps as you feel comfortable with and have time for.

See here for more tips on cooking with kids!

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a portion of tortellini pasta salad in a white bowl surrounded by a white linen napkin, white handled forks, and other various bowls with the pasta salad and various ingredients.

Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad

This simple pesto tortellini pasta salad is a perfect vegetarian summer dinner. Made with 6 ingredients and ready in 30 minutes, it can be eaten warm or cold.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 334kcal
Author: Jade Jones



  • 19 ounces cheese tortellini dried
  • ¾ cup pesto homemade or store bought
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 cup mini mozzarella pearls
  • ¼ cup basil julienned


  • In a large pot of boiling water, cook the tortellini pasta according to the instructions on the box.
  • Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water for later.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the pesto with ¼ cup of pasta cooking water. Add the pasta and toss to combine. If the sauce is too dry, add another ¼ cup of pasta water.
  • Add in the tomatoes, mozzarella pearls, and pepper and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Enjoy chilled or at room temperature!


Fresh or frozen cheese tortellini will work in this recipe— just make sure to adjust the cooking time based on the package directions.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.


Calories: 334kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 521mg | Potassium: 43mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 599IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 181mg | Iron: 2mg
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