Monday, August 13, 2012

Alyce's Tortellini Salad Goes to Denver, but Misses Olivia's Birthday

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. 

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!

serves 12

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 baby 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 T parmesan all but 1T 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,


  1. Very nice post…Hope you get to see Olivia soon!! Your salad looks wonderful!!

  2. @Kathy Thanks! I hope we'll get to see her around Labor Day. (It is a good salad....)


I can't wait to hear from you!

When you click on "Comment as," you have a choice of google id, etc. If you don't have a google id or a blog, choose ANONYMOUS. When you type your comment, you can sign your name there. Thanks!