Whether you serve it for dinner or as a side dish at a BBQ, this Pesto Tortellini will be the star of the show! It’s made with tender cheese tortellini tossed in creamy caesar pesto sauce, with tomatoes, olives, green onion, sunflower seeds and fresh basil.

Pesto Tortellini served in a large wood serving bowl.

I love pasta salads that are easy to make, filling and full of fun flavors, and this Pesto Tortellini is all those things. It’s delicious, and everyone always loves it! It tops the list of my favorite pasta salad recipes, along with this Spinach Avocado Pasta Salad and Teriyaki Bowtie Pasta Salad.

Ingredients Needed:

  • Pesto: Homemade, or good quality store-bought basil pesto. (Tip: Use your leftover pesto to make one of these recipes!)
  • Caesar Dressing: make your own, or use store-bought. I like this one.
  • Tortellini: I recommend good quality refrigerated tortellini. You could use any flavor, or substitute regular noodles.
  • Tomatoes: I love the look of halved cherry tomatoes in pasta salad, but you could chop a roma tomato, or leave them out.
  • Olives: pitted, sliced black olives.
  • Onion: I recommend green onion but sweet onion or diced red onion would work.
  • Sunflower Seeds: or pine nuts.
  • Fresh Parmesan Cheese: freshly grated, rather than pre-shredded, is best.
  • Fresh basil: this really makes the dish shine–don’t leave it out!

How to Make Pesto Tortellini:

  • Cook tortellini according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
A pot of water cooking tortellini pasta.
  • Add dressing: Place tortellini in a large bowl and toss with caesar dressing to coat.
Cooked cheese tortellini in a bowl with caesar dressing being poured over them.
  • Add tomatoes, olives, green onion, basil pesto, salt and pepper and garlic powder and toss to combine. Add sunflower seeds and ⅓ cup fresh parmesan cheese and toss to combine.
Cooked tortellini, pesto sauce, olives, tomatoes and green onion added to a bowl.
  • Serve warm or cold. Store in the fridge. If it seems to dry after sitting in the fridge (the pasta can absorb a lot of moisture) you can add another spoonful of caesar dressing and/or pesto. Garnish with remaining parmesan and fresh chopped basil just before serving.
Pesto Tortellini tossed in a bowl.

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Recipe

Pesto Tortellini served in a large wood serving bowl.
Prep 10 mins
Cook 10 mins
Total 20 mins
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Video

Ingredients
  

  • 20 ounce package three cheese refrigerated tortellini
  • 2/3 cup caesar salad dressing , divided
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes , halved
  • 6 ounces black olives , drained and chopped
  • 3 green onions , chopped
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto *
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese , divided
  • 6-8 fresh basil leaves , chopped, for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Cook the tortellini according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  • Add tortellini to a large bowl. Add caesar dressing to the pasta and toss to coat. Add tomatoes, olives, green onion, basil pesto, salt and pepper and garlic powder and toss to combine. Add sunflower seeds and ⅓ cup fresh parmesan cheese and toss to combine.
  • Serve warm or cold. Store in the fridge. If it seems to dry after sitting in the fridge (the pasta can absorb a lot of moisture) you can add another spoonful of caesar dressing and/or pesto. Garnish with the remaining parmesan and fresh chopped basil before serving.

Notes

Pesto: Homemade, or good quality store-bought basil pesto. (Tip: Use your leftover pesto to make one of these recipes!)
Caesar Dressing: make your own, or use store-bought. I like this one.
Tortellini: I recommend good quality refrigerated tortellini. You could use any flavor, or substitute regular noodles.
Add Chicken to make it a heartier meal. Rotisserie chicken would work great, or leftover cooked, grilled chicken.
Extra Veggies: Add sautéed zucchini or yellow squash, chopped bell peppers, spinach.

Nutrition

Calories: 462kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 16gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 1079mgPotassium: 134mgFiber: 4gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 515IUVitamin C: 7.2mgCalcium: 236mgIron: 2.8mg

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I originally shared this recipe March 2017. Updated May 2021 with process photos and more detailed instructions.

Recipe inspired from here. Process photos by Nikole of The Travel Palate.

This post contains affiliate links. I love sharing my favorite products and cooking tools with you 

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. Can I use meat tortellini instead of cheese in your Creamy Pesto Tortellini recipe? That’s what I have and would like to use that.

  2. I hope to continue seeing your wonderful yummy recipes..My e mail is not working bummer for me !!I hope to have it fixed A.s.a.p..

  3. Loved this recipe, added yellow bell pepper for a pop of color and crunch factor. If made ahead of time it does tend to soak up the dressing as stated in the recipe, so just add a bit more before serving. Great addition to my summer salad rotation!

  4. 5 stars
    I made this for a church bbq today. Delicious! There were no leftovers and it was happily gobbled up. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

  5. 4 stars
    This is SO good! I subbed artichoke hearts for the olives cuz my husband hates olives. I love pesto and mixing it with the dressing made it so creamy and delicious. Definitely will be making this for more parties!

  6. 5 stars
    This was delicious. I added some grilled chicken to make it a little heartier as a main dish. It was a hit!