I remember it like it was yesterday. A light lunch eaten in a quiet loft with only the pitter patter of furry feet running around. Sunshine streaming through the windows. A morning trip to the farmers market and a score of some reasonably tasty & ripe tomatoes, gloriously frisky basil, perky green beans. Coming home and mixing it all together with some pantry staples and a bag of fresh cheese tortellini. Sitting down and inhaling the scent of my favorite herbs and veggies – making me a little wistful about summer when tomatoes like these aren’t such a rarity.
Okay…so this happened on Sunday. I had just made a snide little comment on Twitter about how I didn’t think the projected Snowpocalypse was going to play out after all. As the sun went down, the temperature started to fall and so did the white stuff. We got five inches or so of snow here in our neck of the woods – many folks north of the city saw around half a foot. Since then, we’ve been eating winter veggie soups, hummus, sandwiches, and a great batch of spicy turnip greens (I’ll blog about those soon) spooned over stone ground grits. We also haven’t left the house in 36 hours and if we could, there wouldn’t be anywhere for us to go.
I’m thinking about that warm tortellini salad right now and hoping we thaw out soon so I can make another run to the market for fresh produce. The great thing about this recipe is, while it’s certainly best with some fresh stuff in there, if you are snowed in/stuck at home, you can make this if you have the pasta on hand or in the freezer. Just use whatever scraps of veg and jarred artichokes/olives you have lying around – throw a can of drained chickpeas or some roasted red peppers in there instead of the fresh stuff.
Vegetarian Tortellini Salad – serves four as a large side dish or entree salad
– Fill a large mixing bowl with ice and water and set aside. Bring water in a large pot to a roiling boil. Flash the green beans in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes to blanch them. Pull them out with a strainer/slotted spoon and submerge in the ice bath to stop the cooking. Leave in for a minute then drain them thoroughly from the ice water, chop into bite-size pieces and set aside.
– In that same boiling water, cook tortellini per package directions until tender – this was about 8 minutes for me. While pasta is cooking, combine all ingredient in a large mixing bowl except for S&P, basil and lettuce. When the pasta is cooked, drain thoroughly to remove any excess water – you don’t want this to end up watery. While still warm, toss the tortellini in the bowl with the other ingredients. If you do this while warm, the pasta will soak in all that oil and flavors. Right before serving – and you can serve this salad warm or room temperature – stir in torn basil, endive or romaine and salt & pepper to taste. Don’t mix in the greens and herbs until serving so they don’t get brown and wilted.