This Tortellini Salad is your favorite Cubano Sandwich turned into mouthwatering, colorful pasta salad with zesty Mojo Dressing AKA an epic must make recipe!
This robust, tangy Cubano Tortellini Salad is hearty, comforting and vibrant, loaded with fixings but is wonderfully simple to make. This flavor bursting pasta salad makes an in-demand recipe potluck side and a fantastic make-ahead weeknight lunch or dinner too!
I have been trying to grow my pasta salad collection this summer and it has been palate pleasing journey. There is just something so invigorating about summer on a plate with crisp veggies, juicy meats, cool dressing and al dente pasta and of course tortellini! I’ve already shared my Italian Pasta Salad with Tortellini, my Po’ Boy Shrimp Pasta Salad with tortellini and my Southwest Tortellini Salad because I can’t get enough of those melt-in-your-mouth, cheesy morsels.
This Cuban Pasta Salad joins the ranks of these and my other epic pasta salad recipes (listed below) as a celebration of both the Cubano Sandwich and of summer with its bright, bold flavors and textures.
Looking for more pasta salads to beat the heat?
- BLT Pasta Salad with Lemon Chive Dressing
- Southwest Orzo Salad with Chipotle Honey Lime Dressing
- Creamy Bacon Pea Pasta Salad with Lemon Parmesan Dressing
- Greek Pasta Salad with Sun-Dried Tomato Feta Pesto
- Strawberry Avocado Pasta Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing
- Cowboy Pasta Salad with Creamy Southwest Barbecue Sauce
Tortellini Salad Recipe
If you aren’t familiar with the Cubano Sandwich, it is a Cuban sandwich boasting three flavors of pork —sweet ham, savory roast pork, and salty salami as well as Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, Cuban bread and mojo sauce. There are many variations on this theme, but they are all undeniably delicious.
My Cubano Tortellini Salad recipe boasts an electrifying combination of pillowy, cheesy tortellini (I’m convinced tortellini makes every pasta salad better), cubed pork roast, ham, salami, Swiss cheese, tomatoes, pickles pickled jalapenos, red onions, Romaine lettuce and cilantro – are you drooling yet?!
Best Dressing for Tortellini Salad
All this hearty, satisfying tortellini salad goodness gets enveloped in zesty garlic, citrus Mojo Dressing inspired by Mojo Sauce. Recipes for Cuban mojo vary but they are typically comprised of sour orange juice, fresh garlic, oregano, cumin and salt with other optional seasonings.
For our mojo dressing, we’ve encapsulated the mojo flair by using orange juice and zest, lime juice and zest and lemon juice and zest in place of the not-always-easy-to-find sour orange as well as a generous amount of garlic, oregano, cumin, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
Simply whisk or shake all of the dressing ingredients together and you have a Mojo Dressing that not only stand up against the robust ingredients but enlivens the tortellini salad and brightens the complexity of flavors and textures.
Helpful Tips to make this Tortellini Salad
- DELI COUNTER. The deli counter is your best friend for this tortellini salad recipe. You can give them a list of exactly what you need (including the Swiss Cheese) and how thick to slice everything then continue to shop and return to reap the harvest. I suggest printing out the recipe and highlighting what you want. They won’t cube the meat/cheese for you, but they will slice it to the specified thickness. When you get home, all you have to do is slice the meat/cheese in the other direction to create cubes.
- PORK ROAST SUBSTITUTE. If your deli doesn’t have pork roast (some do, some don’t), then you can purchase sliced pork top loin. To cook, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Season pork with salt and pepper and cook for about 3 minutes per side. Let rest 5-10 minutes before chopping into cubes.
- DON’T OVERCOOK TORTELLINI. Tortellini is one of the starts of this tortellini pasta salad so it is extremely important to not overcook your tortellini otherwise it will fall apart when tossed. It is better to check a piece and see if it is done and continue cooking then to cook them too long.
- STOP TORTELLINI FROM COOKING. To stop your tortellini from cooking after it’s removed from the heat, rinse and drain it in cold water.
- USE BOTTOM OF ROMAINE. Discard the very top flimsy part of the Romaine because it doesn’t have as much crunch then use the lettuce closest to the bottom stem for maximum crunch.
- PREP AHEAD DRESSING. You can make the dressing for the tortellini salad up to 24 hours in advance and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I think the dressing is far superior when made in advance because the flavors have time to develop.
- TANGIER DRESSING. As written, the dressing is infused with garlic and citrus but not overpowering. If you want even a more sour taste characteristic of Mojo sauce, then add 1-2 tablespoons cider vinegar – but be sure you to taste the dressing first!
How to make Tortellini Salad in Advance
- You can make the Mojo Dressing up to 24 hours in advance of the tortellini salad and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you choose to make it this far in advance, you might want to add a little more lemon or apple cider vinegar before tossing as the citrus will mellow over time – just taste first and then make the call.
- You can prep all of the Tortellini Salad ingredients in advance making this a fabulous make ahead dinner or side. Add the totellini and all of the ingredients to a large bowl EXCEPT the Romaine lettuce and toss with half of the dressing. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Refrigerate the chopped lettuce separately. When ready to serve, add the lettuce and the remaining dressing and toss until evenly combined.
Want to try this Tortellini Salad Recipe?
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