This Tortellini Caprese Salad is made with soft, cheese-filled tortellini and fresh summer produce blended together with a simple drizzle of olive oil and balsamic reduction. Enjoy cold as a quick side dish, appetizer, or main dish!
📋 About the Recipe
- Vegetarian friendly. If you're hosting a summer BBQ or cookout this summer, this pasta salad is the perfect choice. It's filling enough for your vegetarian guests to enjoy as a meal.
- Ready in 30 minutes. Similar to my Jerusalem Salad (Israeli Salad) and Bruschetta Salad with Grilled Peaches, this tortellini pasta salad is ready in 30 minutes or less with minimal prep. Great for last minute dinners or easy potlucks.
- Customizable. Use this caprese salad recipe as a guide and make it your own. Increase or decrease the amounts of any ingredient or feel free to replace a vegetable or fruit with what you have in the kitchen.
A few notes about the ingredients:
- tortellini - I like to use cheese filled tortellini in this Summer tortellini salad, but you can use your favorite tortellini or another tortellini with neutral flavors that will compliment the fresh flavors in this pasta salad.
- mozzarella - For the best caprese salad, use fresh mozzarella packed in water. I recommend halved mozzarella balls, "ciliegene," or "cherry sized" mozzarella.
- olive oil - Similar to the mozzarella, use a high quality olive oil. This salad is made with a simple pasta salad dressing made with just olive oil, salt, and pepper so the olive oil is a prominent flavor. The best way to ensure you are buying a quality oil is to buy local or buy an oil with a certification seal from the California Olive Oil Council or the Australian Olive Association.
- cucumbers - I recommend using mini cucumbers. They're easy to slice and have a thin skin, making them easy to eat in cold salads. Any leftover cucumbers can be used to make my Jerusalem Salad (Israeli Salad) or enjoy dipped in Lemon Dill Yogurt Sauce.
- balsamic - This salad is drizzled with balsamic reduction or balsamic glaze at the end for the perfect tangy flavor. I always make my own, but you can opt for a store-bought balsamic glaze for an even quicker meal prep.
- Prepare tortellini. Boil the tortellini according to package instructions.
- Drain the water. Once the tortellini is cooked, drain and rinse the tortellini with cold water in a colander.
- Add ingredients to a large bowl. Place the drained and rinsed tortellini in a large mixing bowl with the mozzarella, avocado, strawberries, sliced cucumbers, halved cherry tomatoes and thinly sliced balsamic.
- Toss to combine.
- Season the tortellini pasta salad. Drizzle the pasta salad with enough extra virgin olive oil to coat the ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the salad again to coat evenly and distribute the seasonings.
- Serve. I recommend serving tortellini caprese salad with a drizzle of balsamic reduction on a large platter for easy sharing with a crowd.
⁉️ Substitutions and Alterations
- Use another kind of tomato. Cherry tomatoes are my recommendation, but you can also use heirloom or another sweet and juicy variety.
- Use your favorite tortellini. I like the simplicity of cheese filled tortellini but any kind of tortellini will work.
- Adjust the amounts of each ingredient to your liking. Add more fresh basil, more balsamic, less olive oil etc. Customize this summer salad to fit your family's taste.
- Dried basil is not recommended. Fresh basil has a bright, zesty flavor that simply cannot be replicated with dried herbs.
- Make this salad more filling by adding in chopped deli meat. Add your favorite salami, turkey, or prosciutto.
❄️ How to Store
To store: Store any leftover tortellini caprese salad in a storage container with a lid or a bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap. Leftovers will keep for 2 to 3 days.
Freezing pasta salad is not recommended. Although tortellini alone can be frozen well, fresh fruits and vegetables will not have the same crisp texture once thawed. Pasta salads like this caprese salad are always best prepped right before you'd like to enjoy it.
Tortellini caprese salad is best served fresh, but you can prep a few of the ingredients the night before to make putting it together the next day quick and simple. Feel free to prepare the tortellini, cucumbers, mozzarella, and the balsamic reduction the night before. Store all ingredients separately and toss together with oil and seasonings right before serving.
This pasta salad can be served as a side dish or a main, depending on serving size. If serving as a side, try pairing it with proteins like BBQ Baby Back Ribs, Chicken Kofta Kebabs, or BBQ Pulled Chicken. You could also keep the dinner vegetarian and serve with Air Fryer Garlic Bread and Roasted Asparagus and Brussels Sprouts.
Balsamic reduction can be made quickly at home with just balsamic vinegar and brown sugar.
How to make: Combine 2 cups balsamic vinegar and ½ cup brown sugar in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vinegar has thickened and reduced in half, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely before using. Glaze will thicken as it cools.
💭 One More Tip
Buy a basil plant! Having fresh basil in the garden or even in a small pot in the windowsill is an amazing, affordable way to keep fresh basil on hand without having to worry about it browning before you can use it up.
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Share your cooking with me! If you make this recipe, I'd love to know! Tag @yourhomemadehealthy on Instagram or leave a comment with a rating and some feedback at the bottom of this page!
Summer Tortellini Caprese Salad
- 20 ounces (1 package) cheese-filled tortellini
- 1 cup sliced mini cucumbers (about 3 mini cucumbers)
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes (about 24 cherry tomatoes)
- 1 cup sliced strawberries (about 6 medium strawberries)
- 1 cup halved mozzarella balls, "ciliegine" or "cherry size" mozarella (about 1 8-ounce container, or 24 balls)
- ½ cup diced avocado (about 1 avocado)
- ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil (about 15 to 20 basil leaves)
- ¼ to ⅓ cup olive oil just enough to coat the pasta and vegetables
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- ¼ cup balsamic reduction (glaze)
- Cook tortellini according to package instructions.
- When tortellini is done cooking, drain and rinse with cold water.
- Add tortellini to a large mixing bowl, along with cucumebrs, tomatoes, avocado, strawberries, mozzarella, and basil.
- Gently toss to mix.
- Pour in olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir to coat the pasta and vegetables in the oil.
- Serve on a large serving platter with balsamic reduction drizzled over top.
- This pasta salad would also go great with deli meat. Add your favorite salami, turkey, or prosciutto.
- To make homemade balsamic reduction (glaze): Combine 2 cups balsamic vinegar and ½ cup brown sugar in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vinegar has thickened and reduced in half, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely before using. Glaze will thicken as it cools.
- Serve this pasta salad cold or room temperature.
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