Tortellini Pasta Salad infused with fiesta flavors, pepper jack cheese, sweet corn, black beans, avocado, bell peppers, etc. bathed in Creamy Salsa Dressing and garnished with bacon and Pepper Jack AKA Oh my YUM!
This Tortellini Pasta Salad is about to become your new favorite way to devour tortellini. or pasta. or salad. or pasta salad. It’s a flavor and texture dream and makes a fabulous side for any occasion!
Tortellini Pasta Salad Recipe
As I share Carlsbad Cravings creations, I share what I love and I share what I crave – I’m kind of selfish that way but it keeps cooking and posting 3X + a week fun. Sometimes I know when a recipe will be a “hit” AKA go crazy on pinterest, but most of the time, I have no idea – I am just hoping you, my kindred foodie buddies, will love it all. And I know you will love this Southwest Tortellini Pasta Salad.
This Tortellini Pasta Salad was inspired by my Southwest Pepper Jack Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing. I CANNOT believe how it took off on pinterest! As of today, it has over 1 MILLION repins and is continually one of my top viewed recipes every day. I am not sure if it is the Creamy Avocado Salsa Dressing – because that is completely unique – or its the fact that everyone loves a good Southwest Salad – probably a combination of the two, but still, it boggles my mind.
So in honor of that salad, the raving reviews, your good taste, and so you can have the best pasta salad to bring to your summer gatherings, I bring you her sister – Southwest Pepper Jack Tortellini Pasta Salad with Creamy Salsa Dressing!
Why Tortellini in Tortellini Pasta Salad?
I am normally not a pasta salad kind of girl but when it’s a tortellini pasta salad bursting with sweet corn, black beans, crunchy red bell peppers and creamy avocados – you can count me in – and way in once you toss the chilled salad with crispy bacon, salted creamy pepper jack cheese – and diving in once you douse the salad with Creamy Salsa Dressing. Update: Since this post, I have posted three more epic MUST MAKE Italian Pasta Salad with Tortellin Po Boy Shrimp Pasta Salad and Cubano Tortellini Salad with Mojo Dressing.
Tortellini is a fabulous choice in pasta salads when the salad goes well with cheese. Pasta salads without cheese like my Strawberry Avocado Pasta Salad – not so much. But in this Southwest Pasta Tortellini Salad it adds the dimension of tender pillows of cheesy tortellini which I seek after in every. single. bite. If you haven’t tried a tortellini pasta salad recipe yet – now is your chance – do it!
Helpful Tips and Tricks How to Make Tortellini Pasta Salad
- TORTELLINI: I use fresh refrigerated tortellini for this tortellini pasta salad. You can use any type of cheese tortellini and even think sausage tortellini would be yummy.
- 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.
- TOMATOES: Don’t substitute the cherry tomatoes for Roma or another variety because they will fall apart in the salad.
- BELL PEPPER: You can substitute the red bell pepper for whatever you have on hand but my fav for this tortellini pasta salad is red because it is the sweetest.
- THICK CUT BACON. It is essential to use thick-cut bacon in this tortellini pasta salad recipe so it retains its meaty texture when covered in the creamy dressing.
- FRESHLY GRATED CHEESE. I am a huge proponent of freshly grated cheese vs. the pre-packaged stuff because freshly grated will ALWAYS taste better because it doesn’t have the extra chemicals added to it – and it’s fresh!
- SUBSTITUTE CHEESE. You can substitute the pepper Jack cheese for Monterrey jack cheese just be aware it won’t have the same kick so you may want to spice up the dressing with hot sauce.
- 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.
- USE MEDIUM SALSA FOR A KICK. If you know you prefer spicier foods use medium salsa in the dressing. If you aren’t sure how spicy you would like it then use mild and you can add in some of the jalapeno seeds to taste or hot sauce to taste.
HOW TO MAKE TORTELLINI PASTA SALAD AHEAD OF TIME
- You can make the Creamy Salsa 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 lime before tossing as the citrus will mellow over time – just taste first and then make the call.
- You can prep all of the Tortellini Pasta Salad ingredients in advance making this a fabulous make ahead dinner or side. Add the tortellini and all of the ingredients to a large bowl EXCEPT the avocado and toss with half of the dressing. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. When ready to serve, chop and add the avocado and the remaining dressing and gently toss until evenly combined.
The Best Dressing for Tortellini Pasta Salad
This dressing makes this Tortellini Pasta Salad, just like it makes my Southwest Pepper Jack Salad. It is basically the same dressing – just doubled and the avocados are in the salad instead of the dressing so the dressing doesn’t brown while chilling. And like I said when I shared that salad – don’t be intimidated by the long list of dressing ingredients – many of them are spices and you simply toss them in your blender and have luscious Creamy Salsa Dressing in 5 minutes.
Southwest Tortellini Pasta Salad. A mouthful of velvety, cheesy tortellini pillows and southwest crunch in every bite.
Looking or more Pasta Salad Recipes?
- 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
- BLT Pasta Salad with Lemon Chive Dressing
Want to try this Tortellini Pasta Salad Recipe?
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