Italian Tortellini Salad combines all the robust flavors of a classic antipasto appetizer. It’s a great side dish for the summer BBQ or a delicious main dish on its own!
Until this week, I totally thought the word was “antipasta” and that it was an appetizer that wasn’t pasta. Makes sense, right?
In the real world that exists outside of my foggy brain, the word is antipastO, which means “before the meal.” It’s a traditional first course in Italy and usually consists of cold foods including cured meats, cheeses, olives, peperoncini, and marinated vegetables. So I guess my first assumption wasn’t exactly wrong, but it sure wasn’t right, either. This may not seem like a big deal to many of you, but I’m a food blogger, and I feel like I should probably know these things by now (Hint: I don’t).
Anyway, back to the antipastO. It’s one of my favorite things to order at restaurants. Sometimes the Mr. and I will go to a restaurant just for the antipasto. I mean, a plate full of savory meats and smoky cheeses? Forget the whatever-comes-after-the-antipasto. That’s all I need.
Since I discovered Antipasto doesn’t really mean NO PASTA, I decided to make it into a pasta salad dish just to confuse everyone even more. You’re welcome.
But really guys, this is some darn good pasta salad. Salami, ham, and smoked provolone cheese provide a robust base of savory goodness, while the tomatoes and artichokes add tang and texture. I will definitely be using tortellini for more pasta salads in the future. I loved the texture and extra cheesiness they provide!
And the dressing for this? It’s just right. I was skeptical when I first tried it. I probably wouldn’t want to just toss the stuff on a side salad, but it was perfect with the pasta and veggies. The longer it sits, the more the pasta slurps up the flavor, so this is also a good dish to make a day ahead of time.
This recipe serves a crowd as a side dish, but I ate it as a main dish several days in a row. It’s definitely satisfying enough to stand on its own.
- 19 oz. bag frozen tortellini
- 1 sweet bell pepper, chopped
- Half of a 6 ounce jar of pitted ripe olives
- Half of a 12 ounce jar of artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
- 5 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 ounces cappicola ham, chopped
- 4 ounces Genoa salami, chopped
- 8 ounces smoked provolone cheese, chopped
- Large handful fresh basil, torn into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- ½ cup olive oil
- Cook tortellini in a large pot according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool the pasta down and stop it from cooking more.
- In a large bowl combine tortellini, bell pepper, olives, tomatoes, ham, salami, cheese, and basil.
- In a small jelly jar combine mustard, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Place the lid on the jar and shake it well for a minute, or until ingredients are well combined.
- Pour dressing over the tortellini mixture and toss to combine. Chill until ready to serve. Garnish with additional basil if desired.