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Pesto Tortellini with Pancetta and Broccoli

This Pesto Tortellini with Pancetta and Broccoli is a quick 20-minute dinner with just 4 ingredients!
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Keyword cheese tortellini recipes, cheese tortellini with pesto, pesto tortellini
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 - 6 people
Calories 432kcal
Author Blair Lonergan


  • 16-20 ounce package fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
  • 2 cups small broccoli florets
  • 1 cup diced pancetta (about 8 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons store-bought or homemade basil pesto, plus more if needed
  • Optional, for serving: freshly-grated Parmesan cheese, fresh basil, salted butter


  • Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook according to package instructions for al dente. During the final 3 minutes of cooking time, add the broccoli florets to the boiling water with the pasta. (My tortellini only required 2-3 minutes total for cooking, so I added the tortellini and broccoli to the boiling water at the same time). Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water, then drain the tortellini and broccoli.
  • Meanwhile, cook the pancetta in a large skillet over medium heat until the pancetta has rendered and the meat is caramelized, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low; stir in the pesto and 3 tablespoons of the reserved pasta water.
  • Add the tortellini and broccoli, tossing gently to coat. Add more pesto or more pasta water, as necessary, until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. Taste and season with kosher salt and pepper. Add a tablespoon or two of butter to the skillet at the very end and toss until melted, if desired. Garnish with Parmesan and fresh basil.


  • Cooking just for two? Cut all of the ingredients in half. You can purchase fresh tortellini in 9-ounce packages, which would be perfect for half of the recipe.
  • Add spinach or frozen peas at the end of the cooking time in lieu of the broccoli. Spinach and peas only need a couple of minutes to soften in the dish.
  • Omit the veggies altogether and just serve the tortellini with the pancetta and sauce.
  • Instead of cheese tortellini, try other flavors such as chicken, sausage, or spinach tortellini.
  • If you don't have access to pancetta, you can substitute with an equal amount of thick-cut bacon.
  • Add a can of drained, petite-diced tomatoes or swap out the broccoli for fresh cherry tomatoes. Sundried tomatoes would also be great in this dish.
  • Fresh herbs will add great flavor! Try extra basil, parsley, chives, thyme or oregano.
  • For crunch, garnish with toasted almonds or pine nuts.
  • Don't forget to reserve the pasta water to use in your sauce. The pasta releases starches as it boils, so that salty, starchy pasta water is great for adding flavor and texture to the sauce.
  • The pancetta drippings are a key ingredient in this sauce. They add flavor and fat to prevent the pasta from drying out. If you don't want to use pancetta, substitute with thick-cut bacon. If you don't want to use any meat, you'll need to add some olive oil to your skillet.
  • Stir in additional pesto and/or additional pasta water at the end to thin the sauce and flavor it until it reaches your desired consistency. Don't be shy -- stir in as much as necessary -- you don't want to end up with dry tortellini!
  • I like to stir 1-2 tablespoons of butter into the dish at the very end. This loosens up the sauce, adds flavor, and just keeps the tortellini really moist and delicious.
  • Garnish each serving with additional Parmesan or fresh basil for more flavor in every bite.


Serving: 1/6 of the recipe | Calories: 432kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 658mg | Potassium: 171mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 354IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 135mg | Iron: 2mg