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Tortellini Pasta Salad with Prosciutto

Did you know that the average American consumes approximately 20 pounds of pasta per year? That’s a lot of pasta! But why settle for ordinary pasta dishes when you can elevate your meals with the delicious flavors of Italy? In this article, I’ll introduce you to a mouthwatering Tortellini Pasta Salad with Prosciutto that combines Italian flavors, fresh ingredients, quick & easy preparation, make-ahead convenience, and Mediterranean flavors. Get ready to tantalize your taste buds and impress your guests with this flavorful twist on a classic salad.

Ingredient List & Possible Substitutions

To make this delicious tortellini pasta salad, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Fresh refrigerated cheese tortellini: You can use frozen tortellini or dried tortellini as alternatives.
  • Heirloom cherry tomatoes: These colorful tomatoes add vibrancy to the salad. Alternatively, you can use grape tomatoes with similar flavors.
  • Kalamata olives: These briny olives enhance the Mediterranean flavors. If you prefer, you can use black olives instead.
  • Red bell peppers: The sweet and vibrant flavor of red bell peppers is recommended, but you can use any color of bell pepper for variety.
  • Mini mozzarella balls: These bite-sized cheese balls provide a creamy texture. If you can’t find them, you can substitute with fresh mozzarella ball cut into pieces.
  • Roasted garlic: Optional but adds a flavorful element to the salad.
  • Thinly sliced prosciutto: A classic Italian dry-cured ham that brings a savory taste to the dish.

Cooking times for the tortellini vary depending on the type:

  1. Fresh refrigerated tortellini: 2-3 minutes
  2. Frozen tortellini: 3-5 minutes
  3. Dried tortellini: 10-11 minutes

Be sure not to overcook the tortellini—al dente is the desired texture to maintain.

You can experiment with different tomato varieties and bell pepper colors to suit your taste. Similarly, black olives can be substituted for kalamata olives if desired. If mini mozzarella balls are unavailable, fresh mozzarella ball works well as a replacement. The roasted garlic can be skipped for convenience. However, the thinly sliced prosciutto adds a delightful savory element to the salad and is highly recommended.

Now that you have your ingredients ready, let’s move on to creating the delicious Italian basil vinaigrette in the next section.

Italian Basil Vinaigrette

The dressing for this pasta salad is a homemade Italian basil vinaigrette, which adds freshness and tangy flavors to the dish.

The ingredients for the dressing include:

  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Minced garlic
  • Finely chopped fresh basil and oregano
  • Salt and pepper

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl until well combined. Alternatively, you can use a mason jar and shake the ingredients together to create the dressing.

To enhance the flavors of the salad, the Italian basil vinaigrette provides a zesty and herb-infused taste. The combination of olive oil, red wine vinegar, and lemon juice adds a tangy and refreshing element. Along with the garlic, the fresh basil and oregano provide an aromatic and savory note to the dressing. Finally, a pinch of salt and pepper brings out the flavors and balances the taste. Whisking or shaking all the ingredients together ensures a homogeneous and well-blended vinaigrette. This dressing perfectly complements the tortellini pasta salad, bringing out the Mediterranean flavors and tying all the ingredients together.

How To Make It

Now that you have all your ingredients ready, let’s get cooking! Follow these simple steps to bring this delicious tortellini pasta salad to life.

**Preheating the oven:** Before we start, preheat your oven (or toaster oven) to 400°F. This will ensure the roasted garlic turns out perfectly.

**Roasting garlic:** Take a whole head of garlic and peel off the outermost layers of skin. Cut about 1/2 inch from the top of the head to expose the cloves. Drizzle with a little olive oil, wrap it in foil, and place it in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes. The garlic should become soft and golden. Once roasted, allow the garlic to cool before peeling each clove.

**Boiling water and cooking tortellini:** While the garlic is roasting, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt to the boiling water. Cook the tortellini according to the package instructions, making sure not to overcook it. This will ensure the tortellini is perfectly al dente. Once cooked, drain the tortellini and rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process.

**Preparing salad ingredients:** It’s time to prepare the rest of the salad ingredients. Chop the bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, olives, and basil into bite-sized pieces. If you’re using mini mozzarella balls, you can keep them whole. If you’re using a regular-sized fresh mozzarella ball, cut it into bite-sized pieces as well.

**Tossing with dressing:** In a large bowl, combine the cooked tortellini, roasted garlic cloves, chopped vegetables, mozzarella balls, and thinly sliced prosciutto. Now it’s time to drizzle the homemade Italian basil vinaigrette over the salad. Make sure to toss everything together until all the ingredients are well coated with the dressing.

With that, your tortellini pasta salad is ready to be enjoyed! It’s bursting with fresh flavors, thanks to the combination of the roasted garlic, Mediterranean vegetables, and the savory prosciutto. Serve it at room temperature or chilled, depending on your preference. It’s a versatile dish that can be a refreshing main course or a delightful side dish.

Serving Suggestions

This tortellini pasta salad is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed in different ways. You can serve it at room temperature, allowing the flavors to meld together and develop. Alternatively, you can chill it before serving for a refreshing and cool option, especially on hot summer days.

If you want to switch things up, try using sausage-filled tortellini instead of the traditional cheese-filled option. This variation will add a unique flavor profile to the dish, giving it a delicious twist.

When it comes to proteins, feel free to experiment with different options. You can add various types of salami, Italian sausage, grilled or rotisserie chicken, or even canned tuna to customize the salad to your taste preferences and dietary needs.

To add more variety to the salad, consider incorporating different vegetables. You can include ingredients like cucumber, spinach, sweet corn, sun-dried tomatoes, or pepperoncini. These additions will not only enhance the flavors but also provide added nutrition and texture.

Don’t be afraid to explore different cheese options as well. Adding feta, burrata, or goat cheese can create unique flavor combinations and elevate the overall taste and texture of the salad.

If you’re looking for a different dressing option, consider swapping the Italian basil vinaigrette with a quick and easy 5-minute pesto sauce. This substitution will infuse the salad with a burst of fresh herbal flavors that complement the other ingredients.

This tortellini pasta salad is a fantastic make-ahead option. You can prepare it in advance and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. As the salad sits, the flavors will continue to develop, making it even more delicious the next day. Just give it a gentle toss before serving to mix everything together again.

Enjoy this delicious and versatile tortellini pasta salad with your favorite variations and serving options. Whether you choose to enjoy it at room temperature or chilled, with different proteins, vegetables, cheeses, or dressing swaps, it’s a satisfying and flavorful dish that will surely impress your family and guests.

FAQ

What makes this Tortellini Pasta Salad with Prosciutto special?

This recipe brings together the delicious flavors of Italy in a refreshing and satisfying pasta salad. The combination of cheesy tortellini, sweet cherry tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, and savory prosciutto creates a burst of flavors in every bite.

Is this recipe quick and easy to make?

Yes, it’s quick and easy to make, perfect for busy weeknights or last-minute gatherings. You can make it ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator for days, making it a convenient option for meal prep or entertaining.

Can I use different types of tortellini?

Yes, you can use fresh refrigerated cheese tortellini for this recipe, but alternative options like frozen or dried tortellini can also work well. Cooking times may vary depending on the type of tortellini.

What tomatoes should I use in this pasta salad?

We recommend using colorful heirloom cherry tomatoes for this pasta salad, as they add vibrant colors and a variety of shapes and sizes to the dish. Grape tomatoes can be used as an alternative, but other varieties of tomatoes may be too watery and make the salad soggy over time.

Can I substitute olives or bell peppers?

Kalamata olives are recommended for their briny flavor, but you can use regular black olives as a substitute if desired. As for bell peppers, red bell peppers are recommended for their sweet flavor and vibrant color. However, you can use any color of bell pepper or even mix and match for added variety.

Can I use different types of cheese?

Mini mozzarella balls are preferred for their convenience and texture in this recipe. They are usually available in the specialty cheese section of the grocery store. If desired, you can substitute with regular-sized fresh mozzarella ball cut into bite-size pieces. Various cheese options, such as feta, burrata, or goat cheese, can be used to switch up the flavors and textures.

How do I make the Italian Basil Vinaigrette?

The dressing for this pasta salad is a homemade Italian basil vinaigrette. The ingredients include olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, minced garlic, finely chopped fresh basil and oregano, and salt and pepper. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl until well combined. Alternatively, you can use a mason jar and shake the ingredients together to create the dressing.

How do I roast garlic for this recipe?

Preheat the oven (or toaster oven) to 400°F. Peel the outermost layers of skin from a whole head of garlic and cut about 1/2 inch from the top of the head. Drizzle with a little olive oil, wrap with foil, and bake for 30-40 minutes. Allow the roasted garlic to cool before peeling each clove.

How do I make the Tortellini Pasta Salad with Prosciutto?

While the garlic is roasting, boil water in a large pot and add a pinch of salt. Cook the tortellini according to the package instructions, making sure not to overcook it. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Then, chop the bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, olives, and basil. In a large bowl, combine the cooked tortellini, roasted garlic cloves, chopped vegetables, mozzarella balls, and prosciutto. Drizzle the homemade Italian basil vinaigrette over the salad and toss until everything is well coated.

How should I serve the Tortellini Pasta Salad with Prosciutto?

This pasta salad can be served at room temperature or chilled, depending on your preference. Allowing it to rest before serving gives time for the flavors to meld together. For a variation, you can try using sausage-filled tortellini instead of cheese tortellini to add a different flavor profile to the dish. Feel free to experiment with different proteins, vegetables, cheeses, and even dressings to customize the salad to your taste.

Can I make this pasta salad ahead of time?

Absolutely! This pasta salad is great for make-ahead meals and can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. The flavors will continue to develop, making it even more delicious the next day. Just give it a gentle toss before serving to mix everything together again.

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Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.