We were invited out to a pot luck dinner last night which means 2 nights in a row there's been limited activity in JBug's Kitchen.
It's hotter'n hades in this part of the country and 108 degree heat combined with the monsoon season's high humidity means one must be creative when it comes to contributing to a group dinner. Obviously anything with dairy, eggs, meat, poultry or mayo needs special treatment and a lettuce salad is simply going to wilt to a puddle under the evening sun.
This tortellini salad is the perfect solution. Loaded with broccoli florets, artichoke hearts, black olives, cherry tomatoes and pesto tortellini in a bottled sun dried tomato vinaigrette, it's quick to prepare, colorful and sturdy enough to last the distance. I was very careful to choose a tortellini that did not have a cheese or meat filling and certainly a plain penne or rigatoni would work well in this salad as well. You can even make it the main event by adding cooked shrimp or pepperoni pieces.
Oh, before I forget to tell you - if you want to brighten the broccoli's color, blanch it for 15 seconds in boiling water before cooking the pasta, and then immediately plunge the florets into ice water to stop their cooking. I like to blanch green or yellow beans, cauliflower, carrots and snow peas too if they're going into a marinated salad like this because it really makes the colors pop.
Show Off Tortellini Salad (adapted from The Best of Bridge Series Cookbooks)
2 – 10 ounce packages tortellini (I used pesto filled)
2 cups broccoli florets
1 – 14 ounce can artichoke hearts, quartered
1 – 14 ounce can pitted black olives
2 cups cherry tomatoes (whole)
1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 – 16 ounce bottle vinaigrette (I used Sun Dried Tomato)
In a large pot of boiling water, blanch broccoli florets for 15 seconds. Remove and immediately plunge into ice water bath to stop their cooking. Drain very well. Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain and cool on a sheet pan until room temperature.
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours to blend flavors (overnight is best). Serves 8 to 10. Note – if you wish, add 1 pound cooked and cleaned shrimp or 1/2 pound of sliced mini pepperoni just before serving. Download Show Off Tortellini Salad