Sesame Chicken Tortellini Salad

This tasty salad with cheese tortellini, snow peas, bell pepper, water chestnuts and an Asian sesame dressing is a nice twist on a pasta salad. It's also super easy to make ahead to take to a lunch or dinner.

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A serving of sesame chicken tortellini salad next to a wooden bowl with an orange napkin.

Easy Pasta Salad

My friend Lisa’s sister, Christine, makes a summer pasta salad that is the first to go at get togethers. It’s easy to throw together, easy to make ahead and different from your average run-of-the-mill pasta salad because it starts with cheese tortellini and ends with an Asian sesame dressing. This sesame chicken tortellini salad is an adaptation of Christine’s famous salad and it’s one you won’t want to miss.

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Ingredients on a cutting board - tortellini, snow peas, orange pepper and a can of water chestnuts.

Cooking Chicken for Tortellini Salad

This recipe calls for cooked chicken. How you cook that chicken is up to you. You could use some leftover chicken or you could start from scratch. Grilling the chicken would be a nice option – the smoky flavor imparted by grilling and the grill marks on the chicken would be a nice addition to the salad. You could also simply air-fry the chicken breasts with just salt and pepper to cook them quickly. No air fryer or grill? No problem. A quick pan fried chicken breast works perfectly too. Another easy way is to poach the chicken and the instructions for doing so are in the recipe below.

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Hands cutting an orange pepper into pieces on a cutting board.

Preparing the Vegetables

There are just two veggies in this salad listed in the recipe, but you could add more, or vary the veg you add. Broccoli would be a nice substitute for the snow peas and you could boil the florets in the same pot as the tortellini for 3 to 4 minutes. I think the orange pepper adds a nice burst of color, but if red is all you have, go for it. You could also add some fresh scallions at the end if you choose. 

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Ingredients on a countertop - soy sauce, sesame oil, vegetable oil, rice wine vinegar, fresh ginger and sugar - with a measuring cup of vinaigrette in front.

Asian Dressing for Pasta Salad

The dressing for this sesame chicken tortellini salad includes some Asian ingredients which are all easy to find. Soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar are available at most grocery stores and useful pantry items for other recipes as well. Add the sugar to the vinegar and soy sauce to dissolve it properly and then drizzle the oils into the dressing while you whisk. It should come together very easily. If it separates while you wait to dress the salad, just whisk it back together.

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Pouring dressing on sesame chicken tortellini salad in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.

Make Ahead Pasta Salad

It’s always nice when a recipe can be made ahead of time. This salad holds really well overnight in the refrigerator if you keep a couple of things in mind. The first is that the pasta will continue to absorb the vinaigrette. This actually adds to the flavor in the salad, but you might want to make a little extra dressing to add just before serving. Secondly, the snow peas can discolor a little over time. To avoid that, give them a quick blanch in boiling water and add them just before serving too. 

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Two hands tossing sesame chicken tortellini salad with wooden servers.

How to Serve

This salad can be a meal unto itself, but it’s a fantastic side dish and works really nicely as one of several salads on a buffet table. You could serve it with the brightly flavored Shrimp and Citrus Salad and this Avocado Tomato Salad for a nice group of different flavors and textures. Otherwise, grab a fork and enjoy this delicious Asian salad cold or at room temperature. 

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Sesame Chicken Tortellini Salad

  • Prep Time: 25 m
  • Cook Time: 5 m
  • Total Time: 30 m
  • Servings:
    4
    to 6 people

Ingredients

  • pounds cheese tortellini
  • 2 cups snow peas 6 ounces, cut into 3 pieces on the bias
  • 1 pound boneless chicken breasts cooked
  • 1 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Sesame Ginger Dressing:
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 inch fresh ginger grated
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

Instructions

  1. Cook the chicken breasts by air-frying, grilling, sautéing or poaching. (To poach, bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Season generously with salt and then add the chicken breasts. Let the pot return to the boil and then cover and turn off the heat. Let the chicken sit in the water for 20 minutes and then remove, transfer to a cutting board and let them cool.)
  2. Bring a large stockpot of salted water to the boil. Add the tortellini and cook for 1 minute. Add the snow peas to the pot with the tortellini and boil for an additional 2 minutes. Drain the tortellini and snow peas together, rinse with cold water and transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Cut the cooled chicken up into ½-inch cubes. Cut the pepper into 1- to 2-inch pieces.
  4. Make the sesame ginger dressing by whisking the sugar, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and fresh ginger together. While whisking, drizzle in the sesame and vegetable oils until the dressing thickens slightly.
  5. Add the chicken, peppers and water chestnuts to the tortellini and snow peas. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Season with freshly ground black pepper and add the toasted sesame seeds. Chill until ready to serve.
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Comments (2)Post a Reply

  1. 5 stars
    This was so easy to make! A great way to use leftover roasted chicken. I added a few other veggies I had on hand. Sorry, Meredith, but I forgot to take a photo.

  2. 5 stars
    It’s so hot this Labor day weekend I wanted a cool and refreshing dinner. This was great. I adjusted to fit my family’s tastes. 1) I cut my chicken into bite sized pieces and marinated in some teriyaki sauce for about a 1/2 hr , then sauteed. 2) I added a small can of Mandarin oranges, some chopped green onion and topped with some fried wontons strips for added crunch and texture. Was very tastey, might add a little sweet chili sauce to the dressing or some pepper flakes just to kick it up a bit. Overall, can’t wait to make again. Thank you for sharing.

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