Ham and cheese tortellini with walnut pesto recipe

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Don’t worry, this ham and cheese tortellini with walnut pesto upgrades shop-bought pasta into a delicious and quick meal the kids will love.

Ham and cheese tortellini with walnut pesto
(Image credit: Future)
Preparation Time5 mins
Cooking Time10 mins
Cost RangeCheap
Nutrition Per PortionRDA
Calories614 Kcal31%
Saturated Fat9 g45%
Fat33 g47%
Carbohydrates49 g19%

Our ham and cheese tortellini with walnut pesto takes only 10 minutes to cook making it the perfect speedy lunch or dinner. 

This recipe serves two but it’s easy to scale up if you want to make it for the whole family. We recommend omitting the chilli flakes from the pesto and sprinkling over your portion just before serving if your kids are still quite little. They might find it too spicy otherwise. We often have a pack of tortellini in the freezer and this is a nice alternative way to serve it if you’re fed up with the same cheese or tomato-based sauces. Homemade pesto is so quick and cheap to make but you can of course use a dollop or two from a jar if you’ve got it knocking about. 


  • 300g pack cheese and ham
  • tortellini or ravioli
  • 100g (31⁄2oz) asparagus tips, cut into 3
  • 150g (5oz) peas

For the pesto:

  • 4 walnut halves or 12 almonds
  • 2tbsp freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra to serve
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 25g pack fresh basil
  • Pinch dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil




  1. Put a large pan of lightly salted water on to boil. Make the pesto by whizzing the nuts, Parmesan and garlic in a mini food processor until finely chopped. Add the basil leaves into the chopper along with the chilli flakes, if using. Whizz until finely minced, then add the olive oil and a little salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Cook the pasta, asparagus and peas together in the boiling water for 2-3 mins until tender (adding an extra 1 min if you are cooking the pasta from frozen).
  3. Add a small ladleful of the pasta cooking water (about 50ml/2fl oz) to the processor, then drain the pasta and return to the pan. Give the pesto a final whizz to make a loose sauce, then pour it over the pasta and vegetables, tossing everything gently together. Divide between 2 bowls and scatter over a little more Parmesan and a good grinding of pepper if you like, to serve.

Top tips for making this ham and cheese tortellini with walnut pesto

It’s more time-efficient to make a big batch of the pesto and keep it in the fridge. You can spread it in sandwiches, dilute it with more oil, and use it as a salad dressing or mix it into hummus for a quick and tasty dip. 

How are you supposed to eat tortellini?

Tortellini is best eaten hot. It can be served without sauce and simply dressed in a little olive oil or melted butter or with your favourite pasta sauce. In Italy, a popular way to serve pork-stuffed tortellini is in a meaty broth. This dish is called tortellini in brodo and it’s very hearty and warming. 

What is walnut pesto made of?

Most walnut pestos are similar to a classic recipe but instead of pine nuts, you use walnuts. Our recipe suggests almonds as a substitute and has a little sprinkle of chilli flakes but you can omit this if you prefer. 

What is a substitute for lemon juice in pesto?

Our walnut pesto doesn’t contain any lemon juice, so there’s no need to swap it for anything. However, if you’re making a classic pesto and don’t have lemons, use a splash of white wine or cider vinegar instead. 

Profile picture of Jessica Ransom
Jessica Ransom

“Shop-bought tortellini is a bit of a guilty pleasure dinner for me. It reminds me of long nights studying while at university and I often showered the bowl with grated cheese. It’s such a great family-friendly ingredient because it’s quick to cook and supermarkets sell so many flavour options.” 

The easiest way to make pesto is with a mini food processor but you could also make it with a pestle and mortar. 

Kenwood Mini Chopper - View at Amazon

Kenwood Mini Chopper - View at Amazon

Small but mighty, this nifty little chopper will quickly become one of your favourite kitchen gadgets. It’s the perfect size for whizzing together a quick pesto or hummus and is easy to clean. 

Learn how to make fresh pasta with our easy guide. It’s an excellent, affordable weekend activity to do with the kids and you’ll be impressed by just how easy it is. We also have a complete guide on how to cook pasta and a delicious spaghetti bolognese recipe that’s a real family favourite. 

Rose Fooks
Deputy Food Editor

Rose Fooks is Deputy Food Editor at Future Publishing, creating recipes, reviewing products and writing food features for a range of lifestyle and home titles including GoodTo and Woman&Home. Before joining the team, Rose obtained a Diplome de Patisserie and Culinary Management at London’s Le Cordon Bleu. Going on to work in professional kitchens at The Delaunay and Zedel.

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