Creamy Chicken Tortellini Caesar Salad
Our favorite take on a classic Caesar salad! My Tortellini Caesar Salad is loaded with fresh cheese-stuffed tortellini, crisp romaine, tons of crunchy homemade croutons, grilled chicken, my two-minute salad dressing, and fresh parmesan shavings!
Pasta salad season is upon us!
And what better way to welcome the season than to turn a classic into a Tortellini Caesar Salad? This is your basic chicken Caesar salad kicked up to a whole new level with tons of cheese-stuffed tortellini, crispy romaine lettuce, crunchy homemade garlic croutons, and my two-minute salad dressing that you’re going to want to have in the refrigerator at all times.
In the summertime, Anees and I make it a point to eat cold food for lunch. This is Texas. When the weatherman tells you it’s going to be just shy of 110ºF, you don’t want to turn on the stove, oven, or even microwave if you don’t have to during the day. So I keep a batch of homemade Caesar dressing in the fridge, ask Anees to grill up chicken on the weekends, and for lunch, you’ve got everything for a quick tortellini caesar salad ready to go in the refrigerator.
I’m picky when it comes to Caesar salads. I once tried what one restaurant claimed was an “award-winning Caesar salad,” and I’m still trying to figure out what was so great about it *head scratch* Too tangy Caesar salad dressing with poached flavor-free chicken, and store-bought croutons? I’ll pass. Trust me when I say this; this one is definitely worth making!
It’s no secret that this girl loves her pasta salads. It’s all in one food, you know? You’ve got crisp veggies, sometimes a bit of protein, chewy noodles, and always a tangy and/or creamy dressing to pair with all those textures.
No joke, I could eat a pasta salad every day and not get tired of it.
What ingredients do you need to prepare tortellini caesar salad?
- cooked tortellini
- cooked chicken
- shaved parmesan
- homemade croutons
- Caesar salad dressing
What kind of tortellini do I need?
Tortellini is sold fresh in the refrigerated section but also dried in the pasta section of most grocery stores. I usually prefer to use fresh tortellini because we prefer the taste of it, and it takes less time to cook. However, either form of tortellini will work for this recipe. Just keep in mind that fresh tortellini takes much less time to cook than the dried kind.
Make sure to follow the directions on the package when preparing.
How to make the easiest Caesar salad dressing:
I’ve got a super simple recipe for a two-minute caesar salad dressing that I make all the time.
What do you need to make homemade croutons?
- stale french bread
- melted butter
- garlic powder
How to make homemade croutons:
- Cut the bread into 1/4- 1/2 inch slices. Dry the bread out in the oven. This won’t take as long if your bread is already a day old (stale.) Fresh bread will require a few additional minutes in the oven. I prefer to use sourdough for this recipe. However, the kind of bread you use is entirely up to you!
- Tear or dice the bread into small pieces and toss it in garlic butter.
- Pop it back in the oven to toast up.
What do you use to marinate the chicken?
You don’t have to cook or grill chicken for this recipe. Pre-cooked shredded chicken will work just fine or even a shredded rotisserie chicken for weeknights.
My marinade for the chicken is pretty standard. It’s what I almost always use when I’m grilling chicken in batches for our weeks’ lunches. It’s a lot of the same flavors Caesar salad dressing, so the flavors mesh together really well. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Two tablespoons olive oil
- a splash of red wine vinegar
- One tablespoon Worcestershire
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- One teaspoon of honey
- a big pinch of salt, pepper, garlic powder
Just combine it all in a big bowl with a whisk and toss in anywhere between 1 – 1 1/2 pounds of chicken and allow it to hang out for 30 minutes-6 hours. I have Anees throw the chicken on the grill, or sometimes I’ll just do it on an indoor grill pan! So simple!
I hope that you’ll make my Tortellini Pasta salad at least a few times this summer. And if you end up making it for all 93 days of summer, I would not be mad at that.
- 1 (9-ounce) package tortellini pasta (such as 4 cheese)
- 6 sliced french bread, day old is best (or even two)
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- a big pinch of salt
- 2-3 hearts of romaine lettuce, chopped
- 14 ounces cooked grilled chicken, diced or sliced
- 1 batch Caesar dressing
- shaved parmesan, for serving
- CROUTONS: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325ºF. When the oven is done heating, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a sheet of foil. Place the slices next to each other on the baking sheet and bake the bread for 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Older bread (staler) will take less time to crisp up while fresh bread will most likely require the full 20 and maybe a little more. Remove the bread from the oven. Add the melted butter, garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a medium bowl and stir to combine. When the bread is cool enough to handle, dice or break the bread into small pieces. Toss in the prepared garlic butter and places back on the lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 5-8 minutes or until the bread is crispy and golden. Remove and set aside and allow to cool.
- PASTA: While the bread is baking, heat a large pot of water and allow it to come to a boil. Cook the tortellini according to package directions, drain and toss it a bit of olive oil to keep them from sticking, set aside.
- SERVE: Place the chopped romaine in a large bowl (if you’re serving this family style.) Top with the cooked tortellini, the sliced/diced chicken and as much dressing as you’d like. I would add ½ and then adjust the dressing according to preference. Top with croutons, shaved parmesan, and serve immediately!
- see the post for my favorite chicken marinade recipe.