Presto Pesto…sort of….

Rustic Tortellini Salad: The sum is greater than the parts!

Busy? Aren’t we all! Summer has kicked into high gear and our family is running in different directions nearly every night.  Softball games and sporting clays are on the calendar this week.  Quickly getting dinner on the table—or at least on the counter top is a continual challenge.  One of my go-to favorites is Rustic Tortellini Salad which is actually a deconstructed pesto pasta dish. It can be a main dish or side accompaniment that takes minimal time and effort.  But, you will need to plan ahead.  Some time in the refrigerator is needed for the cooked tortellini to chill and marinate in the vinaigrette.

Only 5 ingredients! Pick up packaged ingredients when pinched for time. Make your own ingredients when you have extra time!

This recipe is easily adapted to include more ingredients to suit your preferences.  The basic version is presented below.  Some mix-ins that I  have been known to add include: cubed salami, black olives, roasted red pepper, marinated artichoke hearts, roasted asparagus tips, cubed cooked chicken, etc…

Foodies may wish to make from scratch any of the ingredients needed for this recipe.  In a perfect world (= no time constraints), I would likely make my own vinaigrette, shave my own wedge of parmesan cheese, and perhaps even make my own tortellini. But, did I mention that I am busy??!?  The flavor (and satisfaction) gained from scratch-made efforts can wait; I have to be at the ball field in 20 minutes.

Rustic Tortellini Salad

20 oz. package of cheese-filled tortellini

14 oz bottle of prepared Italian dressing (Kraft Olive Oil vinaigrette with basil and parmesan)

½ cup pine nuts

½ cup shaved parmesan cheese

3 to 4 fresh basil leaves (1 or 2 more for garnish)

Prepare tortellini al dente according to package directions.  After draining, place in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Add the bottle of dressing, tossing to coat the tortellini evenly.  Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

After the tortellini and dressing have cooled for at least 4 hours, additional ingredients can be added.

Toasting the pine nuts releases their rich flavor.

First, toast the pine nuts by placing them in a dry skillet on medium heat.  Stir continually until pine nuts are lightly toasted and fragrant. Remove the pine nuts from the pan, allowing them to cool while the other ingredients are prepped. Reserve a tablespoon of the pine nuts for garnish.

Roll several basil leaves together and thinly slice.

Prepare the basil by cutting into thin strips.  An easy way is to chiffonade the basil leaves by stacking the leaves on top of one another, rolling in to cylinder shape and cutting cross-wise.  Add the thin strips of basil, parmesan cheese and pine nuts to the tortellini.  Toss gently.

Spoon the tortellini salad into a serving dish and garnish with the reserved tablespoon of pine nuts and/or basil leaves.  Serve and reap the compliments!

Side dish or main dish? Yummy either way!

If you make the recipe, come back and leave me a comment to let me know how you liked it and if you switched up with any other mix-ins.


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