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How to make caprese salad better — add bacon and tortellini

Whoever thought to name something filled with mayo a “salad” really should be punished for that decision. It’s just wrong, and I hate how summer pasta salads have paid the price ever since.

If I had to pick a salad that epitomizes summer, it’s definitely, no questions asked, a caprese salad. Basil, vine-ripened tomatoes and fresh mozzarella… I just can’t get enough. I really didn’t think there was much out there that could make it any better than it already is, but then I got the idea to combine it with cheese tortellini for a mashup between the classic summer salad and the classic pasta salad. No mayo to be found, just a hint of crumbled bacon added to the mix. That’s an addition I can get behind.

tortellini salad

Tortellini-bacon caprese salad recipe

The classic summer tomato and mozzarella salad gets combined with cheesy tortellini for a new spin on pasta salad.

Serves 10

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes | Total time: 25 minutes


  • 1 pound cheese tortellini
  • 1 pint red grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 pint yellow grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup small mozzarella balls, drained
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked until crispy, chopped
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the tortellini, and cook according to the package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and bacon.
  3. Drain the tortellini once cooked, and let it cool for a few minutes in the strainer. (Immediately adding it to the bowl will melt the mozzarella.)
  4. While the pasta cools, make the dressing by whisking together the oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  5. Add the cooled tortellini to the bowl, and toss it with the dressing until everything is well coated and combined.
  6. Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap, until serving.

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