15 Minute Spinach Pesto Tortellini Salad
Learn how to put together a 15 minute tortellini salad tossed with spinach pesto made from scratch! This is my favorite salad to bring to summer picnics, potlucks, barbecues, and get togethers!
Today’s post is sponsored by California Walnuts! We are using their delicious walnuts in our spinach pesto!
And here we go, it’s time for Spinach Pesto Tortellini Salad!
We’re talking about an easy breezy salad situation that is perfect for all those last minute summer get togethers. It’s also THE meal to make on weeknights if you aren’t one of those people that spend your Sunday meal prepping for the week ahead. Major props if you have your life together like that, I wanna be just like you when I grow up. ❤️ But for the rest of us this spinach pesto tortellini salad is exactly what we need. 15 minutes and you’ve got weeknight dinner on the table.
Sometimes I just have this crazy intense craving for GREEN foods. And what makes green foods a little more delicious is when it comes in the form of a simple pasta salad recipe. HEYYY! When I say this recipe takes 15 minutes, know that i’m being extra generous with the time. Most of that time will be spent allowing the water for the tortellini to boil. So slice your mozz and tomatoes while you wait and make your pesto while the pasta boils and there you have it. Please scroll to the bottom, hit ‘print’ and let’s get this thing started.
Bright neon-colored spinach and walnut pesto made right in your food processor and tossed with mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes, basil, parmesan, and tortellini. It’s also easy enough to customize if you’ve got protein lovers in your family the way I do. Leftover grilled chicken? GOOD. Cooked shrimp. GOOD. Salami. GOOOOD. Is anyone else thinking of that Thanksgiving episode of Friends with Joey’s reaction to Rachel’s trifle? ?
During the summertime in Houston, we have tons of concerts at a local pavilion which is adjacent to a park where people bring blankets, chairs, and picnic baskets to lounge around on, watch the sunset, have dinner, and listen to the concert. It’s sort of like the perfect summer scenario in my mind and it’s exactly where this pesto tortellini salad would be the IDEAL meal to serve. One of these days, we’ll finally make this sort of, perfect summers eve actually happen.
Being from the Midwest, my thoughts when I hear the words ‘pasta salad’ usually involve half a tub of mayo and carby veggies like carrots, peas, macaroni, and starchy potatoes. But friends, i’m here to tell you that we are going to redefine what a pasta salad is in this day an age.
Let’s swap the mayo for homemade spinach pesto, the veggies for tomatoes and mozzarella and the macaroni for it’s more delicious cousin, cheesy tortellini.
Let’s talk about this spinach pesto. It’s a similar situation to my favorite basil pesto recipe but pumped up with tons of spinach. You’ll need a couple cloves of garlic, a handful of basil, parmesan, lemon juice, a pinch of red pepper flakes, olive oil, and California Walnuts.
Can I just stop and say how much I LOVE using walnuts in pesto instead of pine nuts? Not only do walnuts make homemade pesto just as creamy as pine nuts would, they’re also more budget friendly. It’s also nearly impossible to tell you made this little switcheroo. And a handful or two make for a great snacky-snack to munch on while you’re dinner prepping.
Do you remember that Mediterranean Pasta Salad recipe I shared on the blog last year? Did you make it? If you haven’t yet, this spinach pesto would make for a great dressing on there too! So use your leftover pesto on that salad. Or if you’re incharge of salad duty at your next shindig, make both of them with ONE pesto recipe.
One thing i’d like to point out about this tortellini salad, it’s perfect for transporting. Since we’re blending up the greens and using veggies that won’t wilt in this salad, it’s the ideal salad to make ahead of time. <– that alone is reason enough to give it a try!
Friends, I can’t express to you the importance of a good pasta salad that’s NOT mayonnaise based. Serve this up all summer long with a side of grilled chicken//veggies//other proteins you may be into. Pack the leftovers and enjoy it for lunch the next day.
You need this pesto tortellini salad in your life!
Spinach + Walnut Pesto:
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup basil
- ½ cup California Walnuts
- 2 cloves fresh garlic
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoon olive oil
- salt, to taste
- 20 ounces cheese tortellini (see notes)
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- 8-10 ounces of mozzarella cheese (cubes or balls)
- parmesan cheese, basil for garnishing
- Heat a large pot of water and cook the cheese tortellini to package directions. I like to prepare the pesto while the pasta is boiling to save a little time.
- Toss the pasta with ½ the pesto, tomatoes, mozzarella, and a handful of parmesan cheese. Adjust with additional pesto to preference. I find I needed all of the pesto for the recipe. Sometimes I like to add in another couple tablespoons of olive oil to help things blend together better. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with chopped basil before serving!
- Add all the ingredients for the pesto except the olive oil to a food processor. Pulse the food processor 5-10 times or until the ingredients breakdown. Stream in ½ cup of olive oil from the top while you continue to pulse. Stop the food processor and scrape down the sides. If the pesto is too thick, use the remaining 2 tablespoon of olive oil. I find I need it sometimes when I pack the cups of spinach full. Season the pesto with ¼ teaspoon of salt, and adjust to preference.
- cheese tortellini is usually found in the refrigerated food section of most grocery stores.
- This is one of those salad that you can easily make ahead of time. You can toss the salad together or layer it as follows --> pesto --> tortellini --> mozzarella --> tomatoes --> parmesan --> basil. Toss the salad with a few additional tablespoons of olive oil as the pesto with thicken a bit as it sits.
- Any leftover pesto can be kept in a small, airtight container topped with a thin layer of olive oil for up to 5 days. This keeps the pesto from browning too much.
Thank you to our friends over at California Walnuts for sponsoring this post! We truly love partnering with companies that promote wholesome, quality ingredients!