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Layered Southwestern Cheese Tortellini Salad

This Layered Southwestern Cheese Tortellini Salad is summer fresh and filled with vibrant colors and lots of crunch. It’s filled with layers of crisp lettuce, red onion, black beans, Mexican corn, peppers, olives, freshly grated colby-jack cheese and cheese tortellini pasta. Topped with a generous drizzle of my Homemade Avocado-Lime Dressing and it’s ready to chill to perfection. Garnish with bright red cherry tomatoes and it’s a feast for the eyes and the senses.

Layered Southwestern Cheese Tortellini Salad

Easy Layered Southwestern Cheese Tortellini Salad Recipe

Big salads like this layered cheese tortellini salad is a meal all on it’s own and can be a lifesaver on warm days. You know the days I’m talking about, after a hard day at work or the kids sporting events, you want a light meal but, you have no interest in cooking  My family will dig into my Chicken Bacon Ranch Layer Salad and BLT Penne Pasta Salad in a hot minute. The beauty of these layered dinner salads is, you can have this salad chilling in the fridge and it’s ready to go when the family is ready to eat. It also makes a pretty centerpiece and tasty addition to your backyard picnic menu pairing with a variety of entrees such as hot dogs, burgers, steak, chicken or pork. The element of pasta and it gets a thumbs up from the kids, too.


Layered Southwestern Cheese Tortellini Salad

How to Make the Best Layered Southwestern Cheese Tortellini Salad Recipe

  • Ingredients you’ll need to make homemade Layered Southwestern Tortellini Salad recipe: 8 cups of green leaf or romaine lettuce, canned or frozen (steamed and cooled) Mexican corn with peppers, diced red onion, diced red bell pepper, poblano pepper, black beans, cherry tomatoes, shredded colby jack or cheddar cheese, 1 pound cheese tortellini cooked per the package directions.
  • Kitchen gadgets you’ll need: A large pot or pasta pot to cook the cheese tortellini, a colander, large mixing bowl, measuring cups and spoons, a large spatula or spoon for stirring, a sharp knife and cutting board and a large bowl for layering the ingredients.
  • This salad is dressed with my homemade Avocado Lime Ranch Dressing. You could use a quality bottled Ranch dressing or Avocado lime Ranch for a shortcut. I highly recommend making your own Avocado-Lime Ranch Dressing for the ideal flavor combination.
  • You can use refrigerated or frozen cheese tortellini for this recipe.
  • There’s plenty of room in this salad for personalizing ingredients. I use black beans for one layer but, pintos or kidney beans would work, if you prefer.
  • If you’re making this salad in advance, I recommend dressing it lightly then serve the rest of the dressing on the side. In doing so, each person can finish it off to their liking and the greens won’t become limp.
  • Store leftover Layered Southwestern Tortellini Salad chilled in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


More Southern Style Layered Salad Recipes to Make

To me, layered salads are like savory trifles that provide height and beauty to the table. More layered salad recipes you may also like to try:

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Layered Southwestern Cheese Tortellini Salad

Prep Time20 minutes
Chill time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 20 minutes
Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Southwestern Inspired
Keyword: layered-southwestern-cheese-tortellini-salad
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 454kcal
Author: Melissa Sperka


  • 8 cups green leaf or romaine lettuce roughly chopped and divided
  • 1 cup Mexican corn with peppers
  • 1 medium red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 14.5 oz can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 large poblano pepper seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved and divided
  • 1 4 oz can sliced black olives, drained
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded colby-jack or sharp cheddar divided
  • 1 lb cheese tortellini cooked and cooled
  • Avocado-Lime Ranch Dressing OR bottled Ranch dressing


  • Cook the tortellini per the package directions in salted water until al dente. Drain well and cool.
  • In a medium-size mixing bowl, toss with 1/2 cup dressing and mix to coat.. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl or trifle bowl layer in this order: 6 cups lettuce, corn, onion, red bell pepper, 1/2 cup dressing,1 cup shredded cheese, black beans, poblano pepper, 2/3 cherry tomatoes, black olives, 1 cup shredded cheese, and tortellini.
  • Drizzle the tortellini with a small amount of dressing (eye ball the amount) then garnish with reserved 1/2 cup cheese, 1/3 cherry tomatoes and 2 cups lettuce.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and chill.
  • Serve chilled or at room temperature with additional dressing on the side.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 454kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 55mg | Sodium: 806mg | Potassium: 341mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 4381IU | Vitamin C: 48mg | Calcium: 299mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @melissassk or tag #melissassk!



  1. This looks fantastic!!! I actually just bought cheese tortellini and didn’t know what to do with them (though last night I made a delicious skillet cheese tortellini dish with tomato sauce and vegetarian taco meat–YUM!); I may have to try this one next.. I love me a good salad (and that dressing sounds incredible!)

    1. Cheese tortellini is so versatile and perfect for carnivores and vegetarians alike. I actually love that you turned it into a taco dish. Because tacos.

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