Cheese tortellini pasta salad with pesto highlights fresh summer veggies and features an easy to make spinach-basil walnut pesto. This simple summer Pesto Tortellini Salad is hearty enough as a main or you can share it as a side. This recipe is vegetarian.
10ounces (285 grams)Cheese Tortellini*about 3 cups (see note)
1cup (145 grams)Sweet Peasfrozen or fresh
1cup (210 grams)Spinach-Basil Pesto
2 cups (305 grams)Cherry Tomatoessliced in half, about one pint
1 1/4cup (175 grams)Sweet Bell Pepperyellow, orange or red, medium dice, about one medium pepper
1/3cup (40 grams)Green Onionwhite parts, sliced thin, about three green onions
For the Pesto:
In a small pan over medium-low heat, toast the walnuts, tossing occasionally for about 6-7 minutes or until fragrant and toasty. Adjust heat as needed so they don't burn. Set aside to cool.
In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the S blade, add the basil, spinach, Parmesan, garlic, olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper, pepper flakes and walnuts.
Whirl the ingredients until the leaves are broken down and a smoothish pesto forms stopping a few times to scrape down the bowl. Set aside.
For the Salad:
Fill a large stock pot with water, a pinch of salt and bring it to a boil. Cook tortellini according to package directions. During the last minute of cooking, scoop out about 1/2 cup of pasta water, set it aside, then plunge the sweet peas into the pot with the pasta for 30 seconds. Drain and rinse the pasta and peas with cold running water to cool slightly. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the pesto and 4-5 tablespoons of pasta water together. Add the tortellini, peas, tomatoes, bell pepper and onion. Gently toss until the tortellini and veggies are covered with the pesto sauce. Add a splash or two more of pasta water to loosen if needed, mix again.
Add a squeeze of lemon, a few grinds of fresh ground pepper and taste for salt adjustment. Garnish with fresh basil leaves and share. If holding in the fridge before serving, set the pasta salad out at room temperature about 30 minutes prior to serving so the fats can soften.
This salad is best enjoyed the day it's made as the bright green pesto tends to oxidize (turn brown) over time. However, it will keep refrigerated in a lidded container for up to three days. This recipes does not freeze well.
*Look for fresh cheese tortellini in the refrigerator section of your grocery store. It's often found near the cheese or in the produce area. I like 5 Cheese Rana brand.