Simply Homemade: Tortellini Salad

Get ready for another ridiculously easy and versatile recipe! My family has made so many variations of this pasta salad and every one of them has been delicious. I won’t bother with posting the hundred or so different “recipes” but I will tell you some of the ideas to change it up. This recipe is a great transitional food as we move from summer to fall since it uses fresh produce but also some hearty pasta. Love love love!

I am not entirely sure of the origins of this recipe within my family but someone brilliant found a version of this, made it, and shared it with the rest of us. Thanks to whoever that was because this one is a keeper! I remember the original recipe had a homemade dressing that was really good but required a lot more ingredients. Somewhere along the experimenting-with-it-way we found that Olive Garden’s dressing tasted remarkably similar. Since it just so happens that we can purchase Olive Garden dressing from the grocery store, from the restaurant, from Costco or Sams, etc we decided that was an unquestionable swap. One ingredient just replaced multiple…that, my friends, is called winning!

From there, the tweaks to the recipe were small but numerous. It called for regular tortellini but we all prefer the mini tortellini so the ratio of pasta to produce is more even. It suggested turkey lunchmeat but we all usually have rotisserie or grilled chicken on hand so we love to sub those in and leave the turkey lunchmeat for the kids’ school lunches 😉 It called for cherry tomatoes that you cut in half (I won’t lie here that takes more patience than I’ve got when I want this simple recipe). Introduce tiny grape tomatoes that you don’t have to cut or a juicy large garden tomato that you can chop way easier…voila! Another step has been simplified!

All remaining changes stemmed mostly from not having a listed ingredient on hand so subbing it for something similar. No green pepper, how about two milk banana peppers? Want this for a side salad, go with rotini noodles and no meat ingredient. Want it for a meal? Hellloooooo full size tortellini and rotisserie chicken! Too many cucumbers picked from the garden? Chop ‘em up and toss ‘em in! These are just a few of the things we have tried and I wanted to share the ideas with you so your brain gets going on how to use this recipe to your taste preference and disregard any fridge/pantry limitations!

To recap, please think creatively with this recipe and use the basic one below as a “guide” not a rule book. My family has enjoyed this so much over the years and we know you will too!!!

Tortellini Salad

  • Servings: Approximately 6-8
  • Print

Use this basic recipe as a guide and enjoy as-is or experiment to make it your own!

Ingredients

-9 ounce package fresh or frozen mini tortellini

-3/4 cup small grape tomatoes

-1/2 cup Kalamata olives, halved

-1/2 cup rotisserie chicken, chopped

-1/2 cup red onion, chopped

-3/4 cup green pepper, chopped

-4 ounces feta cheese

-3/4 cup original recipe Olive Garden salad dressing

Directions

1) Cook tortellini according to package instructions and place in medium mixing bowl (I would recommend rinsing with cool water to stop cooking process then draining well before putting in bowl).

2) Pour salad dressing and feta cheese on tortellini in bowl and stir to coat so they don’t stick together and can start absorbing the flavor.

3) Wash/chop remaining ingredients and put into same bowl. Mix well.

4) Can refrigerate for a bit before serving (just may need to add more dressing if it soaks into the pasta while cooking and salad appears dry). Mix and serve!

Sooo many colors and textures and yummy tastes in one picture!
Bowl of deliciousness!

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