I love this pasta salad because it has hints of fall. Broccoli, carrots, and brussels sprouts are all seasonal fall veggies. The maple syrup and cranberries add some sweeter fall flavors to balance the tang of the apple cider vinegar and dijon mustard. Want to learn more about seasonal vegetables and fruits? See this Fall Produce Guide from Feel Good Foodie.
You can make this pasta salad up to a day ahead of time, but the pasta salad will absorb the dressing. If you're making this ahead of time, I recommend making a half portion of the dressing to use on the salad in advance. Then dress the salad with a full portion of the dressing right before serving.
Another option for making in advance is to prep all of the ingredients the day before, then cook the pasta and assemble the day of.
Tips for Leftovers
This pasta salad makes a great lunch dish. It will dry out a bit in the fridge, but I've successfully kept it for lunches for about 4 days. I recommend making an extra half to full serving of the dressing to keep in the fridge. Whisk the dressing right before serving, and add enough dressing so the salad is no longer dry. How much to add can be a matter of personal preference.
You can add chopped pecans or walnuts to this recipe (quarter or half cup recommended), but I usually omit these when I'm brining the salad to a group event in case someone has a nut allergy. Some chopped cooked bacon would also add some more robust flavor to the salad.
Make it vegetarian: Just omit the chicken!
Make it vegan: Use a pasta without a cheese filling, such as rotini, and omit the chicken.
If you love pasta salad, check out my BBQ Chicken Pasta Salad recipe, too!
Fall Tortellini Pasta Salad
- 2 to 3 cups chopped cooked chicken (one store-bought rotisserie)
- 2 packages cheese tortellini (Two 9 oz. packages. You can also use one 20 oz. package without adjusting other recipe proportions.)
- ½ cup shaved brussels sprouts
- 1 cup diced red onion
- 1½ cups chopped broccoli florets
- 1½ cups grated carrots
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste as needed
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper plus more to taste as needed
- Bring pasta water to a boil. Meanwhile, prepare the veggies and set aside.½ cup shaved brussels sprouts, 1 cup diced red onion, 1½ cups chopped broccoli florets, 1½ cups grated carrots
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain pasta and run under cold water to cool.2 packages cheese tortellini
- Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing while the pasta is cooling.½ cup olive oil, ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon onion powder, ¼ teaspoon dried parsley, ½ teaspoon oregano, ⅛ teaspoon celery seed
- Transfer the pasta to a large mixing bowl after it's cooled completely. Add vegetables, chicken, and cranberries. Stir to distribute the ingredients.2 to 3 cups chopped cooked chicken, ½ cup dried cranberries
- Add dressing and stir until well-coated. Season with salt and pepper, adding more as needed based on preference. Chill until serving.½ teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper