A Cuban Sandwich with pasta may sound strange, but it’s one of our favorite tortellini pasta salad recipes! All the flavor of a traditional Cuban sandwich transformed into pasta salad with meat, veggies, and a mojo dressing. It will be the in-demand dish at all your summer potlucks — we guarantee it!
Cuban Sandwich Pasta Salad
Pillowy tortellini, cubed pork roast, ham, salami, Swiss cheese, tomatoes, pickles pickled jalapenos, red onions, Romaine lettuce, and cilantro… are you drooling yet?!
All this hearty, satisfying goodness is coated in a zesty garlic and citrus Mojo dressing that enlivens the salad and brightens the complexity of flavors and textures.
It’s hearty, comforting, vibrant, and plain can’t-stop-eating delicious!
You’ll find plenty more tortellini pasta salad recipes here on TSRI — those tiny cheese-stuffed noodles add so much flavor and make every dish more filling too!
What is a Cuban sandwich?
The traditional Cuban Sandwich was a play on ham and cheese, originating in Florida cafes that catered to Cuban workers.
Roast pork, sliced ham, and sometimes salami are layered on a long split roll that’s been buttered or brushed with oil.
Once topped with Swiss cheese, thinly sliced dill pickles, and mustard, the entire Cuban sandwich is pressed and toasted.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Tortellini – You can use either refrigerated or frozen. Just be sure to cook according to the package directions.
- Meat and Cheese – The deli counter is your friend!
Give them a list of exactly what you need — pork roast, honey-glazed ham, salami, and Swiss cheese — and they can slice it to your specified thickness.
Pro Tip: Not all deli counters carry pork roast. In that case, grab some sliced pork top loin from the meat counter instead. Season with salt and pepper, then cook for 3 minutes per side over medium high heat with a little olive oil. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing into cubes.
- Lettuce – Discard the very top flimsy part of the Romaine leaves as they don’t have much crunch. For maximum crunch, stick with the lettuce closest to the bottom stem.
- Jalapenos – Be sure to grab a jar of pickled rounds and not fresh peppers!
- Dressing – A delicious combination of garlic, oil, citrus, and spices. Taste first and adjust the ingredients to suit your taste.
For a bolder sour flavor that’s characteristic of Mojo sauce, add 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
Tips for Making Tortellini Pasta Salad Recipes
- Cook to al dente. It’s important not to overcook the tortellini or it will fall apart when tossed with the Cuban sandwich ingredients.
- Rinse in cold water. This stops the pasta from continuing to cook. Be sure to drain well before continuing the recipe.
- Adjust the amount of cheese. Since there’s already cheese inside the tortellini, you can easily reduce the amount in the overall dish.
You will need at least half of the Swiss to get those traditional Cuban sandwich flavors, though!
- Toss with dressing just before serving. The longer it sits, the more the pasta salad with meat and veggies will absorb the dressing and become soft.
If needed, make the dressing up to 24 hours in advance and store it in a jar in the refrigerator.
Then, give it a good shake and add it no more than an hour before serving.
Kitchen Tools You Will Need
- Colander – This kitchen essential makes life so much easier! You can use it to drain pasta or wash veggies and fruit.
- Cutting Board – A big good solid cutting board so you can prep all your veggies on one surface. I use my cutting board daily so it’s worth the investment.
- Quality Knives – Quality knives make prep time much quicker and are also important for safety.
If you make one kitchen investment, I believe it should be in quality knives.
Pasta Salad with Meat FAQ
Often, yes — but you may need to make some adjustments depending on the ingredients.For this Cuban sandwich with pasta recipe, prepare all of the ingredients separately and refrigerate until ready.Combine everything except lettuce with half of the dressing and refrigerate for about an hour. Then, toss with the lettuce and the remaining dressing just before serving.
Once prepared, any type of pasta salad will keep for up to 4 days in an airtight container. Remember that the noodles and veggies will soften the longer they sit in the dressing.
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
Other Pasta Salad Recipes
Cuban Sandwich Pasta Salad
- 20 ounces cheese tortellini
- 8 ounces 1/2-3/4″ cubes pork roast, or cooked pork top loin
- 8 ounces cubes honey glazed ham
- 4 ounces 1/2-3/4″ cubes salami or chopped sliced salami
- 6 ounces 1/2-3/4″ cubes Swiss cheese
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2/3 cup chopped dill pickles
- 3 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapenos, or more to taste
- 1/4 of a small red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cups packed roughly chopped romaine lettuce
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- juice and zest of one lime
- juice and zest of one lemon
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2/3 cup canola oil
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook tortellini according to directions on the package. Drain and add to a large serving bowl.
- Combine dressing ingredients in a pint size mason jar. Seal and shake vigorously. Pour half of the dressing over the warm pasta and toss to combine.
- Add the remaining salad ingredients to the bowl EXCEPT romaine lettuce and toss until well coated. Chill in the refrigerator at least one hour. When ready to serve, add romaine and remaining dressing and toss to combine.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published June 2018, updated and republished June 2023
Disclosure: Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link your price will remain the same and The Slow Roasted Italian will automatically receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting us, it helps us keep creating new recipes.