If you didn’t think that BBQ side dishes could get any better, think again. This is a fusion of Mediterranean flavors and our beloved Italian pasta salad. Thanks to the tortellini, which adds a cheesy richness to pasta salad like no other! It’s truly a cheese lover’s pasta salad!
With fresh veggies, olives, artichoke hearts, and everyone’s favorite zippy Greek vinaigrette, the combination is outta this world. The dressing brings a bright, refreshing taste and infuses the tortellini salad with Mediterranean flavors thanks to the herbs.
Even better is that it is quick to toss together, and the longer it has time to rest in the fridge, the better the flavor gets! So, this recipe is perfect for making ahead of time before the big potluck or picnic get-together!
One of the reasons I love pasta salads is that it’s so easy to adjust the ingredients. A little more pepperoncini when I’m feeling spicy, a little cucumber when I want more veggie crunch. And, you can easily add or remove items. No rule recipes, FTW!
Here’s what you’ll need, and a few substitution notes. Please be sure to see the full recipe card below!
- Cheese Tortellini: find it in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. It cooks in just minutes, which is one of the reasons this recipe is so quick!
- Greek Vinaigrette: this ties everything together; it’s vibrant with a combination of red wine vinegar, lemon, olive oil, oregano, and thyme. I’ll always recommend making it homemade (5 minutes! In a jar!) but you can use your favorite store-bought variety, too.
- Artichoke Hearts: delicate and creamy in texture, artichoke hearts are a wonderful contrast to the crunchy veggies in this salad. Buy the canned hearts and chop them bite-sized to blend into the salad.
- Red Onion or Shallot: it’s a classic! If you like the zippiness of red onion, thinly slice it up. To tame it slightly, place the slices in a bowl of water for about 10 minutes, then drain. For a milder onion bite, try sliced shallots, as I do in my regular Mediterranean Pasta Salad.
- Cucumber: a refreshing crunch! Enjoy it thinly sliced, in quarters, or diced.
- Cherry or Grape Tomatoes: little bubbles of juiciness! Use a serrated knife to cut them in half.
- Pepperoncini: sweet, mild peppers that are sold pickled whole or sliced. I get the sliced ones for ease. You could also substitute banana peppers.
- Kalamata Olives: add a unique salty flavor, known in Mediterranean dishes. Substitute black olives for a milder olive flavor.
- Feta Cheese Crumbles: why not have more cheese? And feta crumbles are a must IMO – their creamy tang is the perfect way to finish off this salad!
Confirm the cheeses you choose are made with microbial enzymes, not rennet, and this is a totally vegetarian dish!
Let’s Make Greek Pasta Salad!
In no time you’ll have a satisfying, bright, tangy, cheesy pasta salad ready to devour! All you need to do is boil the pasta, make the dressing, and toss it all together!
Cook Cheese Tortellini
When you purchase refrigerated tortellini, it cooks up really fast (yay, fresh pasta!). Be sure to cook it according to the package directions, as your brand and type may vary.
Take care to make sure the pasta is just al dente, not overcooked, or you’ll end up with more of a mushy pasta salad.
Drain and then rinse the cooked tortellini with cold water in preparation for the salad. This will also stop the cooking process.
Prep the Dressing
If you’re making your own dressing, which I highly recommend. It’s only going to take a few minutes and is SO worth it!
Add the ingredients to a jar, and shake away!
There is more salt in the dressing than there would be in a typical vinaigrette for a green salad because it is flavoring the pasta and veggies (both of which are unsalted). The salt is where we get the flavor.
Toss it all Together
You’ll need to prep the salad additions accordingly, drizzle on the dressing then toss it all together!
Use two large spoons or salad servers to make sure the dressing coats every bite, and that the veggies are dispersed evenly throughout.
Be sure to give it a taste test too!
Chill the Salad
Now, you can enjoy the salad immediately, but it is better to serve it cold from the fridge. Allowing it time to chill also gives the flavors time to meld together.
Let’s Eat: Serving Ideas
After chilling, be sure to give the pasta salad another good stir to make sure the dressing is fully incorporated.
If the pasta salad has been in the fridge overnight, you may need to give it another drizzle of olive oil to moisten it back up. Or, if you have more dressing on hand, another splash will do.
This Greek Tortellini pasta salad is such a versatile dish. Serve it as a refreshing lunch or side dish at barbeques, picnics, or potlucks.
Enjoy it on its own or paired with grilled meats or cauliflower steaks. Classic combinations include burgers, deli sandwiches, or hotdogs on those hot summer days. It’s also excellent served alongside a mezze platter.
Get the Recipe 15-Minute Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad
- 2 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced, or ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon dijon mustard, optional
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt*
- ⅛ – ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1-2 teaspoons honey, or maple syrup, if needed
- 1 cup Greek salad dressing, above recipe, or storebought
- 18 ounces cheese tortellini, refrigerated, preferred
- ½ cup red onion, thinly sliced
- ¾ cup cucumber, thinly sliced or quartered
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
- ½ cup kalamata olives, halved or sliced
- ½ cup pepperoncini slices
- ½ cup feta cheese crumbles
- 2 Tablespoons Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish, optional
- Salad Dressing: Add the ingredients to a jar. Cover tightly with the lid and shake until combined. It is prepared extra salty for the pasta salad because this is where the flavor comes from since the veggies/pasta aren't salted.2 teaspoon dried oregano, ½ teaspoon dried thyme, 1-2 cloves garlic, ¼ cup red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, ½ teaspoon dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon fine sea salt*, ⅛ – ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Cook the tortellini according to the package directions (this should only take a few minutes if it's refrigerated). Take care to cook to al dente, and not overcook them, for the pasta salad. Drain and rinse in cold water.
- In a large bowl, combine the cooked tortellini, red onion, cucumber, tomato, artichokes, olives, and pepperoncini. Toss with the dressing until fully combined.
- You can enjoy the salad immediately, but for best results, cover and place in the fridge for 2-4 hours, or overnight, until chilled. Toss again before serving. If it's rested overnight, you may want to give it another drizzle of olive oil or dressing.
- Garnish with the feta cheese or gently toss it in the salad last. Enjoy with fresh parsley as desired.
- Fresh Herbs: if using fresh, double the amount!
- Dijon Mustard: helps to emulsify the dressing; if you omit do note that separation will occur more quickly.
- Salt: There is more salt in the dressing than there would be in a typical vinaigrette for a green salad because it is flavoring all the pasta and unseasoned veggies. The salt is where we get the flavor and what makes everything delicious!