This make-ahead pasta salad for camping is perfect for toting along on your next adventure, or sharing with friends on a picnic or at a backyard bbq. It's made with cheese tortellini, tomatoes, olives, artichokes, and a creamy Italian dressing. Pair it with spicy bang bang chicken skewers for an easy outdoor meal.
You know that pasta salad that disappears first at every gathering and is always requested at potlucks? This is it.
No one can ever seem to get enough of this summer tortellini salad that's full of cheesy pasta, tomatoes, olives, and artichokes, all tossed in a creamy Italian dressing. Which is no surprise. It's easy to make, portable, and can be prepared in advance. What's not to love?
Why This Recipe is Great for Camping
- You can prepare the entire salad ahead of time and pack it along on your camping trip for an easy make ahead camping side dish.
- It keeps well for several days, making it ideal for several meals or as a quick no-cook lunch.
- You can modify it with your favorite vegetables, or add extra protein to create a one-bowl meal.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Cheese tortellini--This forms the base of the pasta salad. You can use plain cheese tortellini, or the colorful three cheese variety makes for a stunning side dish.
- Olives--I prefer Kalamata olives for their distinct flavor, but you can use any type of olives you like.
- Artichoke hearts--Choose artichoke hearts that are packed in oil, not water. They are generally labeled as marinated artichoke hearts. The oil that coats them adds extra flavor to the salad.
- Italian dressing--Use a good-quality creamy Italian dressing, or if you have a favorite homemade version, use that!
- Cook the tortellini in boiling water according to package directions. Drain and cool.
- Combine the tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, onion, and parsley in a large bowl with the tortellini.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad.
- Toss the salad until all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
Rinsing the tortellini will help to cool it quickly and keep the pasta from getting mushy, so if you're at home, go for it. But if you're making this at a campsite, it's a step that you can skip. It will cool just fine on its own.
The salad can be prepared up to 3 days before serving. Store it in a covered container in the refrigerator or your cooler. Drizzle and toss with extra dressing just before serving as the salad will absorb some dressing.
Definitely. Feel free to bulk up the salad by adding chopped salami or shredded chicken. You can also add pepperoncini, sun-dried tomatoes, or extra vegetables for more flavor.
Tips and Troubleshooting
- To get ahead, prepare the salad before heading out on your trip.
- Store the salad in the refrigerator or your cooler for up to 3 days.
- Keep some extra dressing on hand to add before serving. The make-ahead pasta salad will absorb dressing as it sits.
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Tried This Recipe?
Camping Pasta Salad
- 1 package (1 pound | 454 g) cheese tortellini
- 1 cup diced tomato or halved grape tomatoes
- ⅔ cup marinated artichoke hearts chopped
- ½ small red onion diced
- ⅓ cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
- ⅓ cup creamy Italian salad dressing (store-bought or homemade) plus more for serving
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the tortellini according to the package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again.
- In a large bowl, combine the cooled tortellini, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, red onion, Kalamata olives, and parsley.
- Drizzle ⅓ cup salad dressing over the salad and toss well to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Chill the salad for at least 1 hour before serving. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed.
- Make ahead--Prepare the salad up to 3 days before serving.
- Storage--Store the salad in a covered container in the refrigerator or your cooler for up to 3 days.
- Take some extra dressing--Keep some extra dressing on hand to add before serving. The salad will absorb dressing as it sits.