Zesty Italian Pasta Salad recipe with tortellini, Italian meats and cheese, fresh vegetables and a simple homemade Italian dressing.

overhead view black bowl with zesty italian pasta salad with tortellini

This salad has many of the components of a good Italian sub but in salad form.

Italian meats and cheeses, fresh veggies — plus cheese filled tortellini – all tossed in an easy homemade italian dressing.

It’s a great make-ahead recipe, transports easily to pot lucks and parties and is always a hit!

black bowl with tortellini and zesty italian pasta salad garnished with fresh basil

In my book, it’s not a summer backyard barbecue without a good cold pasta salad. 

It’s the perfect side dish that goes with practically everything from burgers and dogs to chicken and ribs and everything in between.

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS:

  • This is an easy Italian Pasta Salad recipe with tons of versatility – maybe one of my favorite things about this recipe.
  • Use tortellini or any variety of short pasta.
  • You can make it ahead of time.
  • It transports easily to parties and picnics.
  • You can use your favorite store-bought dressing or my quick and easy homemade italian dressing.
  • The ingredients are available at your local grocery store (many from the deli dept!).
  • It’s absolutely delicious to anyone who loves a good Italian sub — and who can’t get behind that?

WHAT KIND OF PASTA IS BEST FOR ZESTY ITALIAN PASTA SALAD RECIPE?

Any short pasta will work well in this recipe including elbow macaroni, rotini pasta, bow tie pasta or fresh tortellini shown below.

WHAT’S IN ITALIAN TORTELLINI SALAD?

Salad Ingredients:

  • 3-cheese tortellini
  • salami
  • pepperoni
  • provolone cheese
  • red onion
  • mini bell peppers
  • cherry tomatoes
  • canned sliced black olives
  •  sliced banana peppers (jar)
  • homemade Italian dressing (or your favorite brand_
  • salt and pepper

Zesty Italian Dressing Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • red wine vinegar
  • garlic powder
  • honey
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • dry Italian seasoning
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper

HOW TO MAKE ZESTY ITALIAN PASTA SALAD:

You’re just a few quick steps away from digging into this easy Italian Pasta Salad.

Add dressing ingredients to a small bowl then whisk to combine (OR add to a small jar with a lid and give it a good shake until well blended).

Cook the tortellini according to package directions in a large pot of salted water to al dente.

Drain and rinse in cold water couple of minutes then add cooked pasta to a large bowl. Blot tortellini with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.

Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl (except salt and pepper) then fold in 1/2 cup of the dressing.

Gently stir to combine. Refrigerate 2-4 hours (up to overnight) for best flavor before eating.

Before serving, toss with the additional dressing then season with salt and pepper to taste.

ADDITIONS AND SUBSTITUTIONS:

There are many great additions and substitutions for next time you make this recipe:

  • grape tomatoes or other fresh tomatoes sliced can also be used
  • diced ham
  • whole red bell pepper or green bell pepper (seeded and diced)
  • artichoke hearts
  • crisp cucumber slices
  • thinly sliced green onion
  • try different cheeses like feta cheese or fresh mozzarella balls
  • green olives
  • little bit of fresh parsley or fresh basil
  • broccoli florets
  • garbanzo beans (rinsed and drained)

HOW TO STORE ITALIAN TORTELLINI PASTA SALAD:

Store this cold pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

LOOKING FOR MORE PASTA SALAD RECIPES?

Enjoy!

pinterest pin showing zesty italian pasta salad with tortellini

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overhead view black bowl with zesty italian pasta salad with tortellini

Zesty Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta Salad with tortellini, Italian meats and cheeses, fresh veggies and an easy homemade Italian dressing.
3.88 from 8 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories

Ingredients
  

SALAD INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 9 ounce packages fresh cheese tortellini Buitoni brand used
  • 8 ounces salami diced
  • 1/2 cup pepperoni halved
  • 8 ounces provolone cheese diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 cup mini bell peppers seeded and diced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
  • 6 ounces canned black olives drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup banana peppers rough chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

ZESTY ITALIAN DRESSING:

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons dry Italian seasoning
  • small pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper or to taste

Instructions
 

  • Whisk the dressing ingredients together OR add to a small jar with a lid and shake vigorously.
  • Cook the tortellini according to package directions then drain and rinse in cold water and add to a large bowl. Blot with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.
  • Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl (except salt and pepper) then fold in 1/2 cup of the Italian dressing. Refrigerate 2-4 hours (up to overnight) for best flavor.
  • Before serving toss with the remaining dressing and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition

Serving: 0gCarbohydrates: 0gProtein: 0gFat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0gMonounsaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgPotassium: 0mgFiber: 0gSugar: 0gVitamin A: 0IUVitamin C: 0mgCalcium: 0mgIron: 0mg
Keyword zesty italian pasta salad, italian tortellini pasta salad, italian pasta salad, pasta salad, italian recipe
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10 Comments

  1. What a gorgeous salad…fresh summer tomatoes! This is a great recipe to keep in the frigde for a quick and easy lunch. YUM! Pinned. Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend!

    1. Hi Mary! Thank you! This salad would definitely make an easy lunch, especially on a warm day. Hope it’s a good weekend on your end and let’s chat again soon.