This is a “why didn’t I think of this earlier in my life?” kind of recipe. It is easy, simple, fresh and delicious. And, all you need is an armful of vegetables and a package of tortellini from the refrigerator section at the grocery store. We ate it as an entrée for dinner, but it could just as easily have been toted off to a picnic or potluck. I challenged myself to stuff as many vegetables into this as I could. I ended up with broccoli, asparagus, red bell peppers, carrots, red onions, and scallions…but as I chopped away at home I was planning for the next round when I will try fresh baby spinach, heart of palm or maybe artichoke hearts…and perhaps use mushroom stuffed tortellini and crumbled goat cheese. Enough dreaming…following is what I actually created. This was heavily inspired by a recipe in the New Elegant But Easy Cookbook by Marian Burros and Lois Levine.
¼ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon mayonnaise
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 package of refrigerated cheese stuffed tortellini
2 cups of broccoli, chopped into small florets
1 pound of asparagus, chopped into one inch pieces, (not the tough ends)
1 quarter of a red onion, sliced thinly
1 red bell pepper sliced thinly
1 bunch scallions, chopped, white part only
1 cup carrots, julienned
Shredded parmesan cheese
7or 8 slices of hard salami, cut into slivers (optional)
Whisk together the dressing ingredients and put them in the refrigerator. Cook the tortellini according to the directions on the package. Drain the pasta and rinse it gently with cold water to stop the pasta from cooking further.
Cut the asparagus into small pieces. Chop the broccoli florets into small pieces. I don’t like the little green pods that fly all over everything when I chop broccoli, so I cut a cross on the stem as shown in the photo and then pull them apart. When you do this, it splits on natural lines and the pods don’t all come off the floret. It is more trouble, certainly, but I just like it that way. In a pot of salted boiling water, cook the broccoli pieces and asparagus pieces for about one and a half minutes. Drain into a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the vegetables form cooking further. Combine the pasta and the vegetables. Gently mix in the dressing and season with salt and pepper and put it in the refrigerator to cool.
You can either bring it to room temperature to serve it, or eat it cold. It is great topped with fresh shredded parmesan cheese. At the end, I ended up adding slivers of hard salami to the salad and it was great. But it is just as tasty without it if you want to keep it meat free. It is also worthwhile to save a little of the dressing to toss with the salad right before serving it as a lot of it is absorbed while it is in the refrigerator.
If you don’t have a microplane for shredding parmesan cheese, you really should get one. I love mine.