Everyone goes crazy over this Antipasto Tortellini Pasta Salad! It’s a flavor-packed potluck favorite, and leagues better than anything you can get from the grocery store.
This loaded pasta salad recipe features multiple cheeses, meats, olives, peppers, and more to create a hearty summer side dish. It’ll definitely become your go-to pasta salad!
I’ve spent basically the entire summer trying to think of a creative pasta salad recipe to really excite you guys. Something drastically different but still a crowd-pleaser, making use of exotic mix-ins and unexpected ingredients. Because honestly, I love (a good) pasta salad, but I couldn’t bare to choke down another boring bite of mayonnaise-slathered macaroni or barely-dressed swirly pasta with sliced olives and chunks of pepper jack, let alone post it here.
But even with a long list of creative and kooky flavor combinations, nothing really sparked my interest. It wasn’t until I was actually asked to whip together a pasta salad for a party that I realized the honest truth: try as you might, nothing will beat a classic Italian-inspired pasta salad– but you have to do it right.
If you’re doing pasta salad, load it up and make it steal the show at the whole dang cookout, you know?
And if you’re doing Italian pasta salad, well, you better make it antipasto pasta salad with all of the mainstays.
Pepperoni. The good olives. All of the cheeses. The whole nine.
And everyone will love it.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO BUY TO MAKE A TORTELLINI PASTA SALAD?
I almost feel like some sort of fraud posting a “recipe” here that requires so little effort and is mostly thrown together. But when people rave about a tortellini antipasto salad like it’s the holy grail of your entire culinary career, you don’t fight sharing the recipe. You make a post for it.
So here’s what the salad includes:
- Cheese tortellini. Who doesn’t love extra cheesiness? Swapping regular old swirly pasta for cheese tortellini makes every forkful more exciting.
- Pearls of fresh mozzarella cheese. Little bite-sized cheese balls couldn’t be more perfect for a pasta salad!
- Sharp provolone. First of all, MORE CHEESE. But we don’t opt for sharp provolone for no reason. The aged, piquant flavor of sharp provolone is really different than chewy fresh mozzarella or creamy tortellini filling. You want a little bit of everything here.
- Pepperoni. If you want meat in your pasta salad, you can’t go wrong with bold, smoky, spicy pepperoni.
- Soppressata. Soppressata isn’t usually as heavily-seasoned as pepperoni, but packs in extra flavor as another cured meat.
- Red onion. Red onion is sharp enough not to get lost in the sea of other ingredients, and it tastes great raw, making it a prime candidate for all salads, including this pasta salad.
- Cherry tomatoes. Antipasto salad just isn’t complete without tomatoes. A bunch of halved, juicy cherry tomatoes provide extra acid and freshness to the mix.
- A mix of pitted olives. Those generic canned black olives don’t have anything on a good mix of pitted olives from the salad bar. Just load a container up with as much as you need and make sure you have a good mix of options like rich kalamata olives, buttery cerignolas, herbal niçoise, and more.
- Sliced roasted red peppers. These sweet and vinegary charred bell peppers really perk up the tortellini salad and help to balance the heavier ingredients.
- Whole pepperoncini peppers. Add this sweet and tangy pepper in as well for extra flavor and a slight kick.
- Fresh basil. Fresh herbs (such as basil, in this instance) really help to elevate a pasta salad and make it taste lighter and more balanced.
- Dressing. You can buy a premade dressing, but I personally prefer to whip my own together with staple ingredients I always have on hand like red wine vinegar, olive oil, and garlic.
Now, I’m going to be honest: If you’re starting without anything already in the pantry, buying all of the ingredients can get a little expensive. There’s a lot in this pasta salad. I always have roasted red peppers and pepperoncinis on hand, and we’ve got more basil than we know what to do with from our summer bounty. But if you have to scale back, don’t be afraid to.
This pasta salad is versatile, and you can absolutely tweak it to work for you. That’s the great thing about antipasto– you can really get creative with your mixture of meats, cheeses, and other add-ins!
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER COULDN’T BE EASIER
Picking out the ingredients is the hard part. Putting it all together? It’s as simple as can be.
There are only 3 steps to making this pasta salad:
- Cook the tortellini: Follow the directions on the box and cook your tortellini according to the package, then immediately rinse them in cold water. The cold water will prevent the pasta from overcooking as it slowly cools, and it will stop the tortellini from sticking together.
- Make the dressing: Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients, or take a shortcut and go with a premade Italian dressing.
- Toss it all together: Combine the pasta, antipasto ingredients, and salad dressing in a large bowl and toss until everything’s evenly coated. Then refrigerate until you’re ready to serve!
CAN I MAKE MY PASTA SALAD AHEAD OF TIME?
You absolutely can make this pasta salad ahead. In fact, allowing your pasta salad to sit in the fridge for at least a couple of hours will make it taste even better– the flavors have time to combine and develop that way!
As long as you keep the tortellini salad covered in the fridge you can make it a few days in advance and it will stay crisp and fresh-tasting!
Antipasto Tortellini Pasta Salad
- Total Time: 28 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
For the Antipasto Tortellini Pasta Salad:
- 20 ounces cheese tortellini,
- 1 1/2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 1/2 cups mixed pitted olives
- 1 cup (5 ounces) chopped pepperoni
- 1 cup (5 ounces) chopped sopressata
- 1 cup mozzarella pearls
- 1 cup (5 ounces) chopped sharp provolone cheese
- 3/4 cup sliced roasted red peppers
- 1/4 red onion, diced
- 8 whole pepperoncini peppers, optional
- 6 fresh basil leaves, sliced into thin ribbons
For the dressing:
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Cook the tortellini in salted water according to package instructions, until al dente. Strain and rinse with cold water to prevent sticking.
- Add the tortellini and remaining pasta salad ingredients to a large bowl. Set aside.
- In a large jar or blender, combine the dressing ingredients and shake or blend until well-combined. Pour the dressing over the pasta salad and toss to evenly distribute. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 8 mins
I really like this pasta dish! Loaded full of good stuff and the perfect recipe for Labor Day weekend.
Lisa Bryan says
What a great idea! I love that it takes all my favorites on an antipasto platter and just tosses them together. Yum!
Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche says
Tortellini is my weakness, I love that stuff! So many tasty bits in this salad – I love any excuse to eat olives! I’d add a few sun-dried tomatoes too!
Love love this salad…it’s super gorgeous and I love how full of delicious ingredients it is! And btw I love your photos…just gorgeous!
Kelly Anthony says
This antipasto salad is beautiful. This would be sure to please any guest when hosting a gathering.
This was sooooo good! I made it thinking my daughter would pack it in her lunch for a week, but the whole family ate it and it only lasted 24 hours. I didn’t use olives because I’m the only one who likes them. I made a few other changes based on what was available, but I think the original recipe sounds much better than what I did and it was still amazing!
Can this recipe be made the day before, or better to prepare 2-3 hours before serving?
You can make it ahead!
I’ve found with this salad the longer it sits the better it gets. So feel free to make it a day or two in advance.
frank burkhalter says
I am a man and want to try this!!! Got some studying to do, because I don’t know some of the ingredients. lol I hope to let yall know!
Kathleen Krolikowski says
You can make this salad the day before and you can make your dressing the day before and refrigerate both. I wouldn’t add the dressing to the salad until maybe an hour before serving because the dressing will turn your Pasta to mush. Also don’t overcook the tortellini, leave them al dente. I have added sliced green onion or sliced red onion, radish, and big shreds of Parmesan. You can make the salad your own.
Karen Hagley says
I made this for our 4th of July party. It was a very big hit!!
Going to make it with the addition of artichoke hearts. Looks delicious!!
I’ve had this twice now and it’s seriously the most amazing! Most of my family are gluten free so I’m trying to adapt accordingly and wondered if you had any suggestions? I’m having a hard time finding gluten free tortellini so considered leaving them out but I feel like they just make this recipe that much more amazing!
Angie Coons says
Sounds yummy!!! Is this a meal? Or would you suggest salmon or another protein?
Hands down… Excellent
Wow! Loaded with flavor! The best pasta salad I’ve ever had. I’m vegetarian, so I divided it and only added the meat to half. Even without the pepperoni & sopressata it is delicious! Thank you!
This is the second time I’ve made this. Already planning this for Christmas Eve family dinner! Thank you for sharing this recipe!
Sharon D says
I made this for my son’s birthday party and it was a huge hit! Very delicious and I will make it again! Thank you!
Wendy Hampton says
Oh my goodness! This is the BEST pasta salad EVER! I cannot believe how beautiful it is and so delicious. It is the combination of the dressing with all these great italian flavors. All other pasta salads PALE IN COMPARISON! I am so fortunate to have stumbled across this recipe and your website. Cannot wait to explore more and thank you thank you for this inspiration!
Always a hit; delicious!
This is a great salad, I added capers as well. It’s easy to put together and lasts for a couple of days. Thank you for sharing,
You stated you can make ahead. When you do are you adding the dressing on it too?
I modified the recipe slightly by using turkey pepperoni and not all the cheese and meats but I have made this so many times this summer and have gotten so many compliments! This is my go to salad or lunch for guests!
Ripon hassan says
Its really a fantastic salad recipe. You have described everything so nicely that really helped me lots.