As summer wanes –– it was 50 degrees F this morning when I got up — the vegetables come in huge, lovely fragrant warm piles and a fresh, toothsome pasta salad feels perfect for supper in the lingering heat. No muss, no fuss, with fresh pasta that cooks in just two minutes; dinner is on the table faster than you can make the basil vinaigrette (thanks to David Lebovitz–scroll down for more) that simply makes this meal.
I threw this together as a side for some grilled chops for friends Friday night, but on Saturday Dave and I ate just this pasta with a little grilled salt and pepper baguette. It was plenty to eat for us and probably will be for you, too. Try this:
LATE SUMMER VEGETABLE TORTELLINI SALAD WITH BASIL VINAIGRETTE
While the title sounds a bit cumbersome, the dish is fast and simple. Bring a big pot of water to boil, throw in some green beans and then the fresh tortellini. Meanwhile-or even ahead of time, whirr up a fresh basil vinaigrette (courtesy David Lebovitz) and sauté some tender young squash. Stir together with some great cheese, some fresh chopped tomatoes, and there’s dinner. Maybe enough to take for lunch, too. Need your carnivore fix? Throw in some shredded chicken or grilled shrimp.
- Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and crushed red pepper
- Olive oil
- 1 medium zucchini or summer squash, sliced thinly
- 1 large shallot, sliced thinly
- 1 1/2 cups fresh green beans or haricots verts
- Crushed red pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh cheese tortellini
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 recipe David Lebovitz’ Basil Vinaigrette (click on link for recipe)–Save a few leaves of basil for garnish
- 2 large chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (5 ounce piece)
Bring an 8-quart stock pot of water to boil with a good pinch each of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. (Make the basil vinaigrette now if you haven’t already done it.)
In the meantime, sauté the zucchini in a tablespoon or two of olive oil for 2-3 minutes, adding shallots half-way through. When nearly tender, remove from heat and reserve.
When the water in the pot is boiling, add green beans and turn heat down so the beans just simmer. After 2 or 3 minutes, add tortellini and let cook another 2 minutes or until both beans and tortellini are nearly tender. (Check pasta package for cooking time and adjust accordingly.)
Drain green beans and tortellini. Return to pot, drizzle with a 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with a 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Stir together gently. Add the sautéed zucchini or summer squash with shallot along with the minced garlic; mix gently together.
Drizzle the basil vinaigrette over all and just barely mix together with the tomatoes. Sprinkle with half of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and stir again. Taste and adjust seasonings. Spoon into a large shallow serving bowl, sprinkle with remaining cheese and garnish with reserved basil leaves. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Cook’s Note: While this meal is tasty leftover cold and great for lunches, it is best served warm or at room temperature. If you’re eating it the next day, give it a little time to warm up on the counter and perhaps stir in a little more olive oil and/or vinegar to moisten and soften it up again. The tortellini absorbs a lot of liquid as it chills in the fridge.
PRINTABLE RECIPE: LATE SUMMER VEGETABLE TORTELLINI SALAD WITH BASIL VINAIGRETTE
Curious minds want to know… If you sauté something, it should “jump” in the pan.
The word sauté (pronounced “saw-TAY”) refers to a form of dry-heat cooking that uses a very hot pan and a small amount of fat to cook the food very quickly. Like other dry-heat cooking methods, sautéeing browns the food’s surface as it cooks and develops complex flavors and aromas.
-courtesy Aboutdotcom (Culinary Arts)
And a little about the guy whose Basil Vinaigrette you’re about to make:
Unknown to him, David Lebovitz –stellar pastry chef, cookbook author, and food/travel blogger in, where else, Paris — has been a happy, go-to-anytime mentor for me for years. I adore his blog (it’s my “take me away to France, Calgon” fix), but am crazy about his books.
In fact, he singlehandedly convinced me to begin making homemade ice cream on a regular basis (instead of once a year on the 4th of July) with his beautiful, now legendary book, THE PERFECT SCOOP. Thanks to David, I now own three — or is it four — ice cream machines?
Not only did his ice cream bug bite me, but I even passed that little obsession on to friend Sue Hall,
who, despite her abhorrence of kitchen gadgets, now gets out her little ice cream machine any time she can. No need to bake dessert, just stir together a tasty bunch of ingredients, refrigerate them, and pour them into the machine as dinner begins. Et voila! Ice cream, gelato, sorbet, margaritas! People are so glad to get it. (You MADE this ice cream?!)
After you get the basil vinaigrette recipe, take the time to tool around David’s blog; he’s been at it a long time and it’s full of treasures. You’ll feel as if you’ve taken a great vacation.
Sing a new late summer song,