throwing it all together January 11, 2011

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

  • 1/2 pound fresh cheese filled tortellini – these are often packaged in 9 oz. portions. go ahead and throw that extra ounce in there
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 jar artichoke hearts – not the marinated kind, drained
  • 1/3 cup pitted small cured black olives, any extra oil drained
  • 1 large handful fresh green beans, ends removed
  • 1 cup rough chopped endive or romaine lettuce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, torn into small bits
  • 1/4 shaved fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

- 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.

Comments

Chris Jan 11, 2011 12:01 pm

Ha! I remember the tweet…too funny. Love this salad. If I could get out of my driveway, I would tell you I am heading over for a round 2. :) Hope we all get thawed out soon!

tami Jan 11, 2011 01:01 pm

I should have known if I questioned it happening, it would be snOMG even worse than predicted. the sun is out here but its SNOWING AGAIN. good luck with getting your car out of the driveway – EEK!

Angharad Jan 11, 2011 01:01 pm

What a refreshing salad to think about this time of year! Love the look of it and love your story: “A light lunch eaten in a quiet loft with only the pitter patter of furry feet running around. Sunshine streaming through the windows.” – so warm and evocative! :)

tami Jan 11, 2011 01:01 pm

Ah..to think that was only a few days ago. I’m now watching day 2 of a slushy drizzle fall from the sky. It’s going to re-freeze tonight and we get to start it all over tomorrow. Lots of soup being made this week :)

tasty tart Jan 11, 2011 02:01 pm

This looks *really, really good* I think I may have to make some for my lunch.

Lynn Jan 11, 2011 04:01 pm

This sounds so good – I am certainly going to make this sometime.

I am making Moroccan Chickpea Soup tonight – it’s lovely not really having to go anyplace, but I am beginning to feel slightly cooped up. :) (Also in ATL)

Erica Jan 11, 2011 08:01 pm

Oh my…this looks absolutely amazing and summery and delicious.

Cookin' Canuck Jan 12, 2011 06:01 pm

This is the kind of salad that would lead me to make trip after trip to fridge to sneak “just one more bite”. Great flavors! Stay warm, Tami.

tami Jan 14, 2011 02:01 pm

Dara – Thats exactly what happened. I went back to the fridge, snuck a bite or two and put the lid on. Didn’t last long :)

ava Jan 20, 2011 06:01 pm

It is snowing AGAIN where I live. Your photos are gorgeous. I want to make this so badly — it looks so good! — but the snow gods won’t let me. I’m going to send you some blog props for giving me something to look forward to after the thaw!

Krista May 25, 2011 10:05 am

This looks so delicious and simple! No overwhelming spices… perfect for the summer. Thanks for the idea!