Friday, July 6, 2012

tortellini pasta salad.

Our freezer is filled to the brim.  It’s overflowing with pasta, grass-fed beef from Maine, cookie dough, and chicken stock.  In our previous apartment we were not afforded the luxury of a freezer, we had a mini fridge with one of those freezers that’s inside the fridge and can’t do anything but get covered in a thick sheet of ice (I think we were able to store a mini ice cube tray).  When we moved into our current apartment, I nearly wept with joy when I saw a normal sized fridge with an actual freezer (it’s the little things in life) – I managed to fill our freezer up almost immediately and I still can’t remember how I lived without one before.   

Tyler has kindly informed me that next week is “only eat food from the freezer week” since the freezer situation is getting out of hand.  I think this is somewhat cruel since we are currently in the throws of summer and the peak of farmers market produce.  I told him I was willing to compromise and use some of the stuff in the freezer along with produce I buy, he agreed (more so because if he didn’t I was still going to do it anyway).   I decided to be generous and begin the freezer clean out last night by making a tortellini pasta salad for dinner.  I used a box of tortellini we had (I tend to stock up on good pasta when I have the chance to buy in) and combined it with quickly sautéed cherry tomatoes and garlic (tomato season is slowly arriving!), olives, and basil.  The tomatoes and olives were the perfect contrast of salty sweet and the basil added a lovely freshness.  I drizzled a little balsamic vinegar over the whole thing for a bit of necessary tartness.  It was a beautifully simple and quick dinner that left everyone happy (and the freezer with a little more space!).

Tortellini Pasta Salad
Serves 3

1 9oz. package frozen tortellini (I used a combo of cheese and meat since I had both but cheese is best here)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ - 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on your level of heat)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup black olives, pitted (I used spicy oil cured olives)
½ cup mozzarella, provolone, or other cheese (I used a spicy table cheese I had on hand)
¼ cup packed basil, sliced in thin slivers
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil, salt your water and add the tortellini to the pot, cook until just tender but still a little firm, stirring occasionally. Drain well and place in a large bowl

In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil.  When hot add your minced garlic and red pepper flakes, stirring until fragrant.  Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat. 

Add tomatoes, olives, cheese, and basil to the bowl with the tortellini.  Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Toss to combine.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

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