Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chilled Summer Tortellini Salad

Ah the summer…the air is hot and the sun is blazing. For some reason, one thing I madly crave in the summer is a cold pasta salad. I can never get enough of any variety of these chilled delights in the months of July and August. This is a version of a tortellini salad my mom use to make in the summer growing up in the hot desert sun. This is perfect for any occasion dining alfresco and is extremely easy to make. Perfect for parties and potlucks, this is easy to make for feeding an army. Make your own version by adding your favorite veggies and meats. 

Chilled Summer Tortellini Salad
2 9 oz packages of Tortellini
4 slices of bacon, chopped up into 1 inch cubes
3 cups of spinach
1 handful of fresh basil, chopped
1 scallion, chopped
2 cups of grape tomatoes
8 oz of asiago cheese, shredded or flaked
1 3.8 oz can of sliced olives
¾ cups of olive oil
¼ cups of balsamic vinegar
1 tsp of brown sugar
1 clove of garlic, chopped or smashed
Salt and Pepper

Cook tortellini as directed on package (I have found that they all vary a tad). While the water is heating for the tortellini start your bacon, cook bacon until crispy, drain fat. Mix bacon while warm into spinach so spinach wilts a little, chill. Your tortellini should be done, drain and chill. When the tortellini is to desired temperature, add it into a large bowl with bacon and spinach mixture, basil, scallion, tomatoes, cheese and olives. Whisk together olive oil, balsamic, brown sugar, garlic (if using a smashed clove remember to remove it before adding the vinaigrette to the salad) and a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste vinaigrette to make sure it’s balanced, add sugar or salt accordingly. Pour vinaigrette over the salad and toss. Salt and pepper to taste. This recipe tastes best when flavors have had a chance to marinate, it can be eaten immediately but best if chilled for a couple hours. Garnish with basil leaves. I sometimes make this with fat free balsamic or Italian dressings instead of making my own. My mom uses salami, provolone, and Italian dressing. The sky is the limit on variations of this cold summer salad. Enjoy! 

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