Tortellini Pasta Salad with Bacon Roasted Broccoli

It’s pasta salad season! Tortellini pasta salad with roasted bacon broccoli, fresh cherry tomatoes, and a lemon dressing is a light dinner for two. Learn how to make it including an easy way to add a subtle taste of garlic without all the chopping and mincing. 

Tortellini Pasta Salad with Roasted broccoli in a bowl with two serving spoons

Tortellini Pasta Salad with Roasted Broccoli Salad

I first shared this tortellini pasta salad almost three years ago after reading an article about how to amp up a pasta with one simple trick and, at the time, I was so intrigued I immediately got to work and made a pasta salad to try it out. The simple step of rubbing the inside of the bowl with garlic was a pasta salad game-changer. It really is the best way to impart a subtle garlic flavor without the hassle of mincing the garlic or using a device that I personally hate: the garlic press. It’s a tool that’s impossible to keep clean. And so it was a simple prep step that served as inspiration the first time I made this pasta salad.

And recently, I revisited this pasta salad because it’s officially the start of pasta salad season and this recipe is an old favorite. I also had a new prep trick up my sleeve that used several posts back when I made roasted green beans. In the old version of this pasta salad, I cooked the bacon in a separate pan and used it mostly as a garnish, which left an extra pan to clean. The process also let the deliciousness, also known as bacon fat, go to waste and so this time I used the same trick I used with the green beans – roast the broccoli with the bacon so that as the bacon crisps up it releases fat infusing the broccoli with smokey bacon flavor. More flavor with fewer pans to clean is always a win.

So, I’m bringing this tortellini pasta salad to the front page of the blog again. The bacon roasted broccoli tossed with cheese tortellini with just a hint of garlic, fresh cherry tomatoes, and a simple lemon dressing is a new and improved warm-weather favorite.

 Some Tips & Ingredients You’ll Need

  • It starts with roasted broccoli florets topped with bacon. Cut the bacon into small pieces and place it on the baking sheet with the florets – as the broccoli roasts the bacon will release its fat and crisp up.
  • While the broccoli roasts prepare the rest of the salad. Here’s what you need:
    • Store-bought fresh cheese tortellini
    • Cherry tomatoes
    • Olive oil and lemon juice for the dressing
  • Smash and peel a large clove of garlic and rub it all over the inside of a bowl (this will work with any sort of bowl – plastic, wooden, glass, etc).
  • I like to serve this salad at room temperature, so I cool the roasted broccoli and cooked pasta before tossing the salad together. If you prefer a cold pasta salad I recommend two things: First, keep the components separate until you ready to serve them. I find the dressing sort of disappears if its tossed with the salad and then chilled. Also, don’t chill the tomatoes. Refrigerating tomatoes will mess with their texture – they turn sort of mealy when chilled – so keep them at room temperature and toss them with the salad when you’re ready to serve it.
one serving of tortellini pasta salad in a bowl on a tan napkin

More Summer Salads


Tortellini Pasta Salad with Roasted Broccoli

One bowl of tortellini pasta salad

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 2 reviews

This pasta salad has roasted broccoli, fresh cherry tomatoes, tortellini, and bacon all tossed together in a light lemon and olive oil dressing.

  • Author: April @ Girl Gone Gourmet
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: American


  • 6 ounces broccoli florets, cut into equal sizes
  • 2 slices thick-cut bacon, sliced into 1/2” pieces
  • 2 cups store-bought fresh cheese tortellini
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pinch each of kosher salt and black pepper
  • 6 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bring a pot of water to a boil on the stove.
  2. Spread the broccoli florets on a baking sheet and top them with the bacon pieces. Roast the broccoli and bacon for 15 minutes. While the broccoli roasts, cook the tortellini according to package directions. Drain and cool the pasta to room temperature.
  3. After 15 minutes, stir the broccoli around on the baking sheet to coat it in the bacon fat and continue roasting it for 5 to 10 minutes or until the broccoli is lightly caramelized and fork tender. Set the broccoli and bacon aside to cool.
  4. To make the dressing, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  5. Rub the garlic all over the inside of the serving bowl. This will work on any type of bowl – wood, plastic, or glass. Place the broccoli, bacon, pasta, tomatoes in the bowl and gently toss them together. Add the dressing and toss it all again before serving.


I think this salad is best the day it’s made and served at room temperature. You can stick it in the fridge for a little bit to slightly chill it, but if it gets too cold the dressing will dry out and the tomatoes will have a different (not so great) texture. If you want to serve it cold I recommend keeping the components separate until you are ready to serve it. Also, keep the tomatoes at room temperature and add them once you’re ready to serve.


  • Calories: 676
  • Sugar: 5.4g
  • Sodium: 733.8mg
  • Fat: 40.4g
  • Carbohydrates: 61.2g
  • Fiber: 5.3g
  • Protein: 21.3g

Do you love this recipe? Don't forget to leave a comment and your recipe star rating!

Updated from the archives. First published in May 2015.


  1. Okay the garlic trick- genius! Totally using that! I LOVE tortellini based pasta salads and this one looks wonderful… plus with your fancy-pants garlic bowl trick- I bet this tastes even better than it looks! Double Yum!!! 🙂

  2. My mother always rubbed the inside of the salad bowl with garlic and I do it too but I never thought about it until now. The things our mothers do to us. 🙂

    I would LOVE this salad for lunch today.

  3. Oh how lovely, I just love a good pasta dish. This is the perfect salad to bring to a picnic! Yum!

  4. I have seen people rub garlic in the bowl when making Ceasar Salads to get the garlic flavor into the salad without the chunks. It makes perfect sense to do it for pasta as well. This pasta salad looks delicious and I loving the addition of bacon.

  5. YUM’d! This looks delicious. A definite must try! Please come share your blog posts over at the Home Matters Linky Party! We’d love to have you for a visit. The Door OPENS tonight at 9pm Pacific Time. 🙂

    Life With Lorelai

  6. My husband likes kielbasa and I needed something that I would like to pair with it. I made the tortellini pasta salad with roasted broccoli. Very good. Great for a picnic. Easy, very easy. However, I thought the salad needed “something” to give it some zing. I didn’t have fresh lemons and used the squeeze juice but I am not sure how that would affect it. Also, I had never rubbed garlic in a bowl before and maybe should have done it a little heavier. I might also try the tortellini from my local Italian groceria next time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.