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Picnic-perfect tortellini and shrimp salad recipe

Tortellini and shrimp salad recipe, with tomatoes or peppers and garden-fresh herbs, will be welcome at any summer picnic or potluck. #salad #shrimp #pasta

Cold pasta salad -- three words that strike fear in the hearts of buffet diners everywhere. No way, not me, can't stand it, they say. I understand. Nobody likes pasta drowning in dressing. So, if you think you'd rather get a root canal than eat pasta salad, I promise you that this recipe will change your mind. The secret? Pour off excess dressing not absorbed by the warm pasta, and add it back in right before you serve. Perfect for picnics and potlucks, this tortellini and shrimp salad makes a hearty main course. Omit the shrimp and add more vegetables for an equally satisfying vegetarian version.

Tortellini and shrimp salad, perfect for a potluck. #salad

Picnic-perfect tortellini and shrimp salad

From the pantry, you'll need: frozen raw shrimp, fresh herbs, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, honey, extra-virgin olive oil.

Serves 4-6, or more as part of a buffet meal.


20-oz package of mixed-cheese tortellini (fresh, not dried)
1 lb frozen raw shrimp (31-40 size), peeled and deveined (optional)
1/2 red bell pepper, minced, or 1/2 cup chopped tomato
2 Tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley or basil, or some of each

For the dressing:
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp honey, or more to taste
4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste


Bring 6 quarts of water to the boil in a stock pot over high heat. While the water is coming to the boil, place the shrimp in a large bowl filled with cold water for 3 minutes. Peel the shrimp and set aside.

Add the bell pepper or tomato, and chopped herbs, to a large mixing bowl.

In a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine all of the dressing ingredients, and shake until the dressing emulsifies (thickens).

When the water boils, add the pasta, and cook for 5 minutes. Then, stir the shrimp into the pasta. Cook for 2 minutes, until the shrimp are pink and curled, and the pasta is cooked. Drain the pot, and run the pasta and shrimp under cold water. Drain well, and add to the mixing bowl.

Pour on a few tablespoons of the dressing, and stir several times. Set aside on the counter, and stir every few minutes. When the pasta absorbs all of the dressing, add a little bit more, and repeat until the pasta doesn't take in any more dressing. Pour off the excess and reserve.

Serve at room temperature. If you want to make this in advance, refrigerate it and bring to room temperature before serving. If you wish, add the reserved dressing right before you serve.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Pasta salad with feta, basil, olives, fresh and slow-roasted tomatoes
Spicy Asian grilled chicken and pasta salad
Cold curried orzo
Pasta with roasted tomatoes, artichoke hearts and shrimp (or no shrimp)
Shrimp lo mein

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Pasta salad with tomatoes, zucchini and feta, from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Summer pea and roasted red pepper pasta salad, from Smitten Kitchen
Shrimp and macaroni salad, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Orzo, shrimp and asparagus salad, from My Colombian Recipes
Penne with shrimp and arugula, from The Food in my Beard

Need more ideas for how to create salads with pizzazz? Get Dress Up Your Salad, my e-book packed with easy mix-and-match recipes, full-color photos and a few fun videos. Exciting salad recipes from everyday ingredients can be just one click away, on any computer, tablet or smart phone, with the FREE Kindle Reading app. Click here to learn more.

Perfect for a potluck, cheese-filled tortellini and shrimp salad from The Perfect Pantry.

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Lydia this is a perfect salad - to be honest I have never tried tortellini in a salad! So am really loving the idea!

Love the dressing tip. What a wonderful salad and no way would I leave out the shrimp!

I actually loved cold pasta salads as a kid. Now, I don't eat a lot of pasta. But when I do, I am all about tortellini. With shrimp? This sounds like my perfect salad.

I LOVE pasta (swear I was Italian in my last life) and I think cold pasta salads are like pizza, some are better than others but even a bad one is a good one in my book!
This is a terrific easy dish with GREAT tip about the dressing! thanks

I agree that pasta salad can be kind of ho-hum, but this looks great! I bet tortellini is great in pasta salad.

This looks really good! I am bookmarking it now. Thanks!

It's great that you used a vinaigrette-style dressing as opposed to a mayo-based one. It's a lot more light and refreshing that way.

Meeta, the tortellini makes this a main course pasta salad, with or without shrimp. And it tastes surprisingly good when it's cold.

Maris, now you know my secret to pasta salad success.

Chris, same with me. We don't eat a lot of pasta, but when we do, this is the kind of salad we love.

Carol, I know so many people who wouldn't get near cold pasta, but this salad is terrific and I hope you'll try it.

Kalyn, the tortellini is rich and chewy, and a little goes a long way for those of us who don't eat it all the time.

Barefeet, thank you. I'm sure you'll love it.

Riyaad, pasta salads with mayo remind me of the macaroni salad my mother made when we were kids. Delicious, but way too many calories.

This looks delicious! Perfect for the summer with the heat we've been having here in NY!

Lydia - great tip about pouring off the excess dressing and stirring some back in right before serving - I don't like overdressed salads either.

Could you add avacado to this dish?

Ali, why not?!

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