Greek Tortellini Salad
This easy Greek Tortellini Salad is full of flavor, with fresh vegetables and herbs, plus cheese-filled tortellini, feta cheese, kalamata olives, and a simple, bright lemon dressing. It’s a family-favorite cold salad that’s perfect for backyard gatherings and weeknight meals!
Easy Greek Tortellini Salad
My family adores any dish that includes cheese tortellini – and this easy Greek Tortellini Salad is always a win!
This cold tortellini pasta salad recipe hits all the marks for flavor, texture, and beautiful color – with fresh veggies and herbs, fun cheese-filled pasta, feta cheese, and kalamata olives. The simple dressing dances with bright and tangy lemon flavor, and brings the salad altogether.
This cold salad is great served all on its own, or alongside a meat or seafood main entree – it’s gorgeous with grilled steak, chicken, or salmon. Absolutely perfect for backyard gatherings and easy weeknight meals any time!
Why You’ll Love This Tortellini Pasta Salad
We love this dish because it’s fresh and fun. Here are a few reasons why this tortellini pasta salad is a family favorite:
- Fresh flavor & texture. This salad is packed with fresh veggies and herbs, plus a gorgeous lemon dressing. It looks and tastes super fresh!
- Fun! Besides the awesome flavor in this salad, I know the main reason my family loves this so much – it’s all about the cheese tortellini. And I totally understand why! I think those bites of feta and olives are dang good, too.
- Hearty enough for a light meal. You can definitely make a light, satisfying meal out of a bowl of Greek tortellini salad.
- Goes with so many dishes. Or, you can serve tortellini pasta salad as a side to meat, fish, or a simple green salad. It pairs with so many dishes.
- Easy to adapt. I’m partial to this recipe as written, but you can check out some of my variation suggestions below. Think more vegetables, meat, or different-flavored tortellini if you want to change things up.
What You’ll Need
Here’s a list of everything you’ll need to make this tortellini pasta salad.
Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card at the end of this post for the exact ingredient amounts:
For the Dressing
- Olive oil – I use extra virgin olive oil for the dressing base.
- Lemon juice & zest – Freshly squeezed lemon juice offers the brightest, best flavor. And zest adds even more lemon flavor.
- Dijon mustard – Dijon mustard gives delicious, deeper flavor to the dressing, plus it adds a little body.
- Honey – To balance the acidity of the lemon juice.
- Salt & pepper
For the Salad
- Cheese tortellini – Use refrigerated or frozen tortellini for the best flavor and texture (not dried shelf-stable tortellini.)
- Red bell pepper – Feel free to use your favorite color sweet pepper.
- Cucumber – I use Persian or English cucumbers, as they have a thinner skin and less/no seeds.
- Red onion – For a little bite.
- Grape tomatoes – Or you can use cherry tomatoes. I like to cut them in half.
- Kalamata olives – For authentic Greek flavor that adds briny, salty bites. I recommend using pitted olives.
- Fresh herbs – I like to use oregano and rosemary.
- Feta cheese – It would not be a Greek salad without feta cheese! You can buy a block of feta and crumble it yourself or use pre-crumbled feta.
What Tortellini Should I Use In Tortellini Pasta Salad?
Plain cheese tortellini is my favorite choice to use in tortellini pasta salad because it has a more neutral flavor. You could also use spinach tortellini.
If you want to play around with ingredients and flavors, here are some variation suggestions:
- Add more vegetables. If you like, add more vegetables, like zucchini, marinated artichokes, or spinach. Or for a creamy element, add chopped ripe avocado.
- Swap the feta. If you’re not a fan of feta, goat cheese is nice. Or try shaved Parmesan.
- Add some meat. I like to keep this as a vegetarian salad, but you can add in some meat like chopped ham, salami, pepperoni, or grilled chicken if you like.
- Or add chickpeas. Chickpeas are a wonderful addition to Greek tortellini salad if you want a little more protein.
- Swap the olives. Use black olives instead of kalamata. Or even green olives!
- Use different herbs. I’m partial to using fresh oregano and rosemary in this recipe, and I sometimes throw in some basil. Fresh chives and parsley would also be good. And if you’re in a pinch for fresh herbs, dried herbs will also work – just lessen the quantity a bit.
- Add some pickled flavor. For a little extra zing, it’s fun to throw in some pepperoncini or chopped pickled red onions or pickled squash!
How To Make Greek Tortellini Salad
Follow along with the method and photos below to help you make this Greek tortellini pasta salad:
For the Dressing
- Make the dressing. Add all ingredients to a pint jar, twist on the lid, and shake vigorously to combine. Place it in the fridge to chill.
For the Salad
- Cook the tortellini. Cook tortellini just to al dente, according to package instructions. Drain it in a colander, then run cold water over it to cool it down and stop it from cooking.
- Combine the ingredients. Add the drained/chilled tortellini, veggies, olives, and herbs to a very large bowl. Fold gently to combine.
- Fold in the dressing and feta. Drizzle half of the dressing over the tortellini mixture. Fold gently to combine. Add the feta and fold gently again. Taste test – add more dressing, salt, and pepper, as needed.
- Serve immediately or store in the fridge. Serve the salad right away or place it in the fridge, covered, until ready to serve. Store any remaining dressing in the fridge, too.
Tips for Success
This salad is easy to make. Here are a few tips to help you make it perfectly every time:
- Don’t over-cook the tortellini. Tortellini doesn’t need much time to cook, and you definitely don’t want it to get mushy for this salad. Take note of the cooking directions on the package and keep a watchful eye on the tortellini while it’s on the stovetop.
- Salt the water. I always add a couple teaspoons of Morton kosher salt to the boiling water when I cook tortellini. This doesn’t make it taste overly salty, just adds a bit of flavor to the pasta.
- Run cold water over the tortellini after it’s finished cooking. Don’t skip this step! Running cold water over hot tortellini stops it from cooking and becoming mushy.
- Make it in advance. This is a great salad to make in advance because the longer it sits the more the flavors will develop. Plus, I like to eat it cold.
- Save some of the dressing. Note that the tortellini will soak up the dressing more as it sits, so I always make sure to save at least a few tablespoons of the dressing for drizzling over the top right before serving, or for any leftovers. Depending on your taste, you may or may not use all the dressing.
Serve this cold salad all on its own, or with grilled meats and other side dishes. A few of my favorite ways to serve this Greek tortellini pasta salad include:
- Grilled meat. Greek tortellini salad is a wonderful side for grilled meat. Try it with my easy grilled pork chops or sugar grilled beef and asparagus kabobs recipes. It’s also delicious with a grilled whole chicken.
- Grilled fish. Greece is known for its seafood, so why not pair a Greek tortellini pasta salad with fish? My grilled scallops or grilled salmon would go nicely with this salad.
- Burgers. Serve a fresh-flavored pasta salad instead of fries with burgers. It would be lovely with my Juicy Lucy burger or goat cheese stuffed turkey burgers. Or a chopped cheese sandwich, yum!
- Grilled vegetables. My grilled vegetable salad or grilled asparagus recipes make great pairings to Greek tortellini salad, to add grilled vegetables.
- Salad. Go veg-heavy and offer a sort of salad buffet. Arugula beet salad, broccoli salad, or cucumber salad would all go well together.
Can Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad Be Prepared In Advance?
Yes! You can definitely make this salad ahead of time!
If serving within a few hours: Fold half the dressing into the salad ingredients. Then store the salad and the remaining dressing in the fridge. Just before serving, fold the salad, and add more dressing if desired.
If serving the following day: Combine the cooked tortellini, veggies, herbs, and olives in a large bowl – cover tightly and refrigerate. Make the dressing, cover tightly, and refrigerate. A few hours prior to serving, fold half the dressing into the salad ingredients, along with the feta, salt, and pepper. And just before serving, fold the salad, and add more dressing if desired.
Store any leftover Greek tortellini pasta salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Serve the salad cold or at room temperature.
You may need to add a little more dressing or olive oil to the pasta to loosen it up, as the tortellini will soak up the dressing the longer it sits. Sometimes I add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
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For the dressing:
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ teaspoon Morton kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
For the salad:
- 20 ounces refrigerated cheese tortellini
- 1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 cup thinly sliced Persian or English cucumber, with slices cut into half moons
- ½ small red onion, very thinly sliced
- 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
- ¾ cup halved or sliced Kalamata olives
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- For the dressing: Add all ingredients to a pint jar, twist on the lid, and shake vigorously to combine. Set in the fridge to chill.
- For the salad: Cook tortellini just to al dente, according to package instructions. I always add about 2 teaspoons of Morton kosher salt to the boiling water - this doesn't make the tortellini overly salty, just adds a nice flavor. Add tortellini to a large colander to drain, then run cold water over it until pasta is cool to the touch. Continue to drain while you prepare the rest of the salad, shaking the colander gently to remove as much water as possible.
- Add the chilled tortellini, veggies, olives, and herbs to a very large bowl. Fold gently to combine.
- Give the dressing a few good shakes, then drizzle half of it over the tortellini mixture. Fold gently to combine. Add the feta and fold gently again. Taste test - add more dressing, salt, and pepper, if desired.
- Serve right away or place in the fridge, covered, until ready to serve. Store remaining dressing in the fridge. The tortellini will soak up the dressing more as it sits, so I always make sure to keep at least a few tablespoons for drizzling over the top right before serving, or for any leftovers. Depending on your taste, you may or may not use all the dressing.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 410Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 615mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 12g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.