Use Tortellini For Your Next Pasta Salad And Taste The Magic

Is there a better way to relish the warmest months of the year than by enjoying all your favorite cookout foods? Grilled cheeseburgers, bright yellow corn on the cob, and 12-minute pasta salad, all eaten al fresco. A tried and true pasta salad recipe serves as a central component of quick and flavorful summer meals. A primary draw of this chilled side dish is that you can customize the ingredients. Next to using a select combination of raw vegetables, cured deli meats, and cheese, you can also choose which type of pasta to use. Although not common, tortellini is a delicious way to upgrade your pasta selection — plus it turns this from a side dish into a full meal.

While you might typically use smaller noodles with deep ridges like fusilli or farfalle to soak up tangy salad dressing, tortellini has a special quality that those pasta varieties don't have. These ring-shaped noodles are pre-stuffed with veggies, meat, or a variety of cheeses such as ricotta and parmesan. You can use any variety of tortellini to craft an upgraded pasta salad. Yet, if you're looking for a neutral base that can take on a various other ingredients cheese tortellini is the best choice. The cheese stuffed inside can work with any additional vegetables, meats, herbs and spices. However, to effectively swap out standard pasta for cheese tortellini, there are a few important tips to follow.

Tips to consider when making tortellini pasta salad

In order to upgrade your favorite Mediterranean pasta salad by using cheese tortellini, be mindful when preparing the pasta. To set yourself up for success, chop and prepare the other ingredients and make the intended dressing first. If you're using fresh or frozen tortellini, boil for less than the recommended time before draining, aiming for al dente pasta. Ideally, you want your noodles to have a slightly firm texture so they don't fall apart when transformed into pasta salad. Taste test noodles to check if they're the ideal consistency. Keep in mind that once chilled, tortellini will firm up slightly.

Make sure to rinse the cooked tortellini with cold water before assembling pasta salad. This step is important to ensure your pasta doesn't continue to cook from residual heat. After the tortellini has cooled down for a few minutes, mix in a bit of dressing right away. Adding a pour of dressing while the tortellini is partially cooled down but not fully cold helps marinate cooked noodles more effectively. Then, all you need to do is add in your other pasta salad ingredients. Taste the mixture to adjust any seasonings. For the best tasting pasta salad, give your freshly prepared dish at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator before serving.

Creative additions to pasta salad with cheese tortellini

Since most varieties of cheese tortellini are made with a blend of Italian cheeses, it's the perfect way to upgrade zesty Italian pasta salad. Apart from using sliced olives, cucumber, and onion, feel free to add more savory notes with chunks of cubed salami. For a meat-free protein source, try canned white beans. For a more briny or fiery flavor, add capers or sliced pepperoncinis. 

Also, just because you're using cheese-stuffed tortellini doesn't mean you can't add extra cheese to the mix. If you want your pasta salad to be very cheesy, add fresh mini balls of mozzarella or shredded parmesan. For convenience, you can use bottled Italian dressing, or if you have time on your hands, make a dressing with homemade basil pesto. When you're ready to serve, add some freshly chopped basil for an extra pop of flavor, and toasted pine nuts for texture. These additions would also work well with a traditional Italian meat-stuffed tortellini, which uses a blend of ground pork and beef.

You can make tortellini pasta salad one day in advance with or without dressing. Fully prepared pasta salad will keep in your refrigerator for up to four days. Since this colorful dish includes cheese stuffed pasta and other perishable foods, when serving, don't leave pasta salad at room temperature for longer than two hours. With this tortellini upgrade for your favorite pasta salad recipe, your summer meals are looking better and better.