Tortellini Caesar Salad

Not quite a pasta salad, not all green salad… It’s the best of both worlds.

Caesar Salad is great. Pasta salad is great. But this Tortellini Caesar Salad gives you the best of both worlds. See, there’s still cool and crunchy romaine, a classic salty Caesar dressing, and plenty of parmesan, but there’s also tender cheese tortellini tucked in. It makes for a salad that’s a bit more substantial, and the comforting chew of tortellini is excellent in contrast to the crunch of the croutons. (And since those croutons and the dressing are homemade, you can be sure that the flavor of every component here is spot on.)

The nice thing here is that you can bake the croutons and boil the tortellini while you chop and assemble the other components, so while there are a few things to get ready, it doesn’t take all that much time. And homemade croutons make all the difference – they’re crisp and crunchy on the outside while the interior still has some give.

Another thing that makes all the difference is the homemade dressing. It’s creamy and savory and garlicky and we make it incredibly easy on you. All you need is a whisk and a few ingredients to bring it together. Mayo forms the base, and that’s dressed up with fresh garlic, lemon juice, a bit of Worcestershire and dijon mustard, and a squirt of anchovy paste. I like using anchovy paste because you still get that signature flavor but you don’t have to deal with a blender or food processor like you do when you’re using a whole, intact tiny fish.

Once the tortellini are cooked, the croutons are crisped, and the dressing has had some time for the flavors to meld, all you have to do is combine the ingredients and give them a toss. We’ve included some chopped chicken as well, but this salad is plenty hearty without it thanks to the croutons and tortellini.

Caesar salad is really a simple thing – lettuce, cheese, croutons, dressing – but it’s all about that salty-savory incredible balance of flavors with the fresh crisp lettuce. Here, tortellini adds one more layer of flavor and texture without complicating matters… you just get the added comfort of pasta and some extra cheesiness in the mix!

Tortellini Caesar Salad

Serves 4; 5 minutes prep, 20 minutes cook time

Ingredients
  • 1 (9 oz) package cheese tortellini
  • 6 thick slices day-old French bread
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2-3 hearts of romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped or sliced
  • Shaved Parmesan, for serving
For the dressing:
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F and position a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and arrange bread on baking sheet.
  2. Bake until bread has dried out, 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  3. When cool enough to handle, break bread into pieces and add to a bowl. Toss with melted butter, garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Place back on baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes more. Remove and set aside.
  4. While bread bakes, make the dressing so flavors have time to come together. Whisk together garlic cloves, anchovy paste, lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise, and Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper and chill until ready to use.
  5. In a large pot of salted water, cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain and toss them in some olive oil to prevent sticking.
  6. Add lettuce to a large bowl. Top with chicken, tortellini, and desired amount of dressing. Top with croutons, shaved parmesan, and black pepper and serve. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Little Spice Jar.