Most of us have a thing for pasta and cheese; I know I’m not alone. Admit it; you’re in this club. Google macaroni and cheese if you’re unsure of my claim. (There are almost 24 million hits.) We all mostly adore fast, filling, and luscious meals made in minutes from leftovers as well, right? Wed the ultimately pleasurable pasta and cheese idea with a quick next-night dinner and we have a match made in heaven.
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Summer comes and this tortellini salad comes with it. Just ask my family.
Full of tender cheese-filled tortellini and lots of chunky vegetables, it’s held together with a brisk mustard vinaigrette and lots of thin slices of sopressata or hard salami. If I’m going to a family event or a church picnic, I make a big bowl of this salad and bring it along. In Minnesota, it goes in the cooler and makes its way up north to celebrate Joe’s and Olivia’s birthdays. The original recipe was, I think, from the COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE years ago, but it has changed quite a bit over time.
|I missed Olivia’s birthday this year, but made the salad anyway. See you soon, I hope!
Here in Colorado, it travels up I-25 to Denver for a family afternoon by the pool after a visit to a museum.
This year, Bill made a big hunk of brisket he smoked overnight. Sean brewed some beer and I made (of course) the tortellini salad. Occasionally it morphs just a bit; originally it didn’t have many vegetables. I had to amend that. The resulting salad is fine for a whole meal, but it’s also a total one-dish side for any barbequed meat. You know how pasta salad can be pale, insipid, and less than interesting? Perhaps only filling? Easily left on the plate at picnics? That is what this pasta salad is not.
|Nope, we don’t want to get out of the pool. Even for lunch.
|This is either Cosmo or Gizmo tending bar. Whichever one, he got no tortellini salad.
|The unveiling of the smoked meat!
TORTELLINI SALAD FOR OLIVIA’S BIRTHDAY, BILL’S BRISKET, or YOUR SUMMER BASH
18-20 oz. fresh cheese tortellini (find in refrigerator case)
2 small zucchini, cut into matchstick size pieces
1 small yellow squash, ditto
1 red sweet pepper, ditto
1 yellow sweet pepper, ditto
1 green or orange sweet pepper, ditto
1/4 c minced red onion
1/4# hard salami, cut into 1/4″ slices (I like sopressata for this.)
1/3 c each fresh basil and parsley, chopped (keep out 1 T for garnish)
1/2 t dried oregano or Herbes de Provence
1/2 c freshly-grated Parmesan cheese (keep out 2T for top of dish)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3T red wine vinegar
2T Dijon mustard
1/3 c Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt; Freshly-ground Pepper;1/8 t crushed red pepper
Cherry Tomatoes for garnish
In 8 qt. stock pot, bring 5-6 qts. well-salted water to boil. Add fresh tortellini and cook about 8 min or according to package directions.
Meantime, make dressing: In large bowl (or in food processor), whisk together red wine vinegar, garlic and Dijon mustard. Slowly pour in olive oil and whisk until emulsified (creamy and satiny). Add salt and peppers; stir well. Set dressing aside.
Drain tortellini while still a tad al dente and, while hot in colander, add all zucchini and yellow squash. Stir gently to let heat of pasta cook the squash just a tad. Allow pasta and squash to cool, stirring periodically.
Add sliced peppers, salami, all but 2 tablespoons parmesan all but 1 tablespoon fresh basil, and the oregano or Herbes de Provence. Stir gently; tortellini can fall apart easily. Drizzle most of dressing onto salad and combine. (Save some dressing to add right before serving)
Refrigerate until needed or overnight. To serve, add extra dressing and taste salad for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with reserved basil or parsley, Parmesan cheese, and cherry tomatoes. (If refrigerated overnight, you’ll definitely need to re-season.)
Note: If you have any other vegetables, add them. This version has some fresh, minced broccoli as well as some diced carrots.
Note: For vegetarian or vegan option, skip salami and, for vegan, use pasta made without eggs and leave off Parmesan.
|Aunt Carolyn relaxing after lunch.
Sing a new song; make an old tortellini salad,