Tortellini Pasta Salad with Prosciutto, Shallots, and Peas

tortellini pasta salad in a bowl

Like many good things in life, the credit for today’s recipe goes to someone’s grandma. I found a version of this dish on The Kitchn, who found it via Reddit user nomoanya, who’s grandma was obviously a genius for pairing pasta, pork, and peas in a ready-to-eat gem of a dish. Nomoanya noted that this “elegant yet simple” tortellini pasta salad dates all the way back to the 70’s and I am definitely here for any recipe that still holds up half a century later. However, like the taste tester at The Kitchn, I have some thoughts.

Basically, my thoughts come in the form of buttery, caramelized shallots and crispy prosciutto. The original recipe is very simple, like nomoanya promised – once the tortellini is cooked, you just toss it and all the remaining ingredients together. That’s good, and definitely convenient. But, if you’re up for a couple extra steps/considerations that have a big, delicious pay-off, try these changes:

use refrigerated/fresh tortellini

My grocery store does not carry shelf-stable/dried tortellini, like the original recipe called for. I went with the refrigerated kind from Buitoni (pictured below) and it worked like a charm. Also, since Buitoni comes in 20 oz. packages, I went all in with that rather than the 16 oz. the recipe called for and it was fine. More cheese-filled pasta is never a bad thing. I upped the measurements of the dressing to compensate and had more than enough.

ingredients for tortellini pasta salad

caramelized shallots, please

Just give me caramelized shallots any time. Especially when prosciutto and peas are present.

caramelized shallots in a skillet

The Prosciutto: make it crispy

For me, the note in the original recipe about separating the thin ribbons of prosciutto to ensure it’s evenly distributed throughout the salad was a bump in the road to pasta salad happiness. I opted to pop the prosciutto under the broiler for a minute and half, then just cut each slice into bite-sized pieces. This worked out better for me because crispy prosciutto is kind of the best and it doesn’t stick together. The result was everything we’ve all ever wanted: prosciutto in every bite. Also… I used less prosciutto than the original recipe called for because, shockingly, there is such a thing as too much cured pork. I hate that I have to admit that.

tortellini pasta salad in a bowl

combine the mayo and the dressing

TBH, I love mayo and really just want it all over everything. So rather than stir it in at the end like the original recipe suggested, I whisked the mayo into the store-bought Italian dressing and drizzled that creaminess into every nook and cranny of those tortellini. There’s just no other way.

salad dressing in measuring cup with whisk

That’s the story of this epic pasta salad. It really is worthy of it’s 50-year lifespan and definitely deserves a spot on your table this summer!

tortellini pasta salad in a bowl
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Tortellini Pasta Salad with Prosciutto, Shallots, and Peas

tortellini pasta salad in a bowl

The Grandma’s Pasta Salad that got famous on Reddit, with a few tweaks!

  • Author: Megan
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, lunch

Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 shallots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and thinly sliced
  • 2 TBS unsalted butter
  • 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 oz. prosciutto
  • 20 oz. cheese tortellini from the refrigerated section of the grocery store
  • 1 C frozen peas
  • 1 very large handful basil leaves, sliced into thin ribbons
  • 1 C store-bought Italian dressing
  • 2 TBS mayonnaise

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven’s broiler for the prosciutto and bring a large pot of water to a boil for the tortellini.
  2. Heat the butter and oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and add the shallots. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for 6-8 minutes until the shallots begin to brown. Turn the heat to low and cook for about another 10 minutes until caramelized. Set aside.
  3. Separate the slices of prosciutto and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Set under the broiler for about a minute and a half until just crisped. Allow to cool slightly then cut into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Lightly salt the boiling water and add the tortellini. Allow the water to come back to a boil, then reduce the heat slightly to allow the pasta to boil gently – this will prevent it from bursting. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 7 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, spread out a kitchen towel and lay some paper towels on top. Drain the tortellini and rinse under cold water, then spread out on the paper towels to cool and dry slightly.
  5. Whisk the Italian dressing and mayo together.
  6. Add the cooked tortellini, shallots, prosciutto, frozen peas (they’ll thaw quickly), and basil to a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the top (you may have more than you need, save it to add to the leftovers) and toss to combine. Refrigerate until ready to eat or enjoy immediately!

Keywords: tortellini pasta salad, tortellini pasta salad recipe, Reddit pasta salad, potluck recipe, summer recipe

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