Warm Tortellini Salad with Pesto

This is a quick, easy, warm salad for summer.  The pasta is cooked, then cooled down with a cold water rinse, Then the chicken and pesto are cold. It’s filling and yet still light for those warm summer nights.

Serves 4-6

Prep  10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minute



  • Pesto
  • 1 350g package Tortellini
  • 2 grilled chicken breasts



  1. Pesto:  Add Basil, garlic, olive oil, walnuts, and salt and pepper to a mini blender (the type used for making individual-sized smoothies).  Blend until smooth. Allow to sit for a bit for flavours to develop while you prepare the rest of your ingredients. If you don’t have a mini blender, you can use a full-sized blender but you may want to double the recipe as this quantity may not blend well in a larger jug.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions, using the minimum cook time given. Drain and rinse pasta with cold water to stop the cooking process. Allow it to dry a bit in the colander.  If it’s too wet, the pesto won’t adhere.
  3. Cut cooked chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Add tortellini and chicken to a large serving bowl.  Pour pesto over all and mix with a large spoon until everything is well coated.


  • Top with grated Parmesan.  It is traditional to have Parmesan in the pesto, but because I am lactose intolerant we keep it out and let the people who want it add it themselves.  This also keeps the sauce vegan, so it is a good, all-purpose, all people recipe.
  • If you want some heat, sprinkle red pepper flakes over top, or, if everyone likes it, add them right in the pesto blender.  I like some heat, but I actually find with the peppery taste of the basil and the heat of the raw garlic, I never miss the red pepper.
  • You can use whatever kind of tortellini you want.  We use beef, because there is no cheese in the filling and, you know, lactose intolerant here, but really, use what you like to eat.
  • To make this meal vegetarian, substitute white beans for the chicken and use a cheese or vegetable tortellini.  For a vegan option, use Gnocci made with a vegan egg substitute, or a plain, short cut pasta like fusilli.
  • If you double the recipe, keep the remaining pesto in the fridge and try to use it within 2 weeks.

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