Frozen tortellini is on my list of top-five staples. They're always in my freezer. I typically go the simple route: melt butter in a skillet, let it cook until nutty and brown, then add the tortellini in with whatever fresh herbs are around, a heap of Parmesan, and lots of black pepper.
But this salad is a less obvious use, and perfect for picnics when combined with summer vegetables and a simple Dijon vinaigrette. It's not exactly pasta salad, which I'd associate more with pestos and other sauces like that rather than this vinaigrette, but I suppose it's essentially a pasta-based salad. Treating the tortellini like any other ingredient in a salad works incredibly well, and I often (but not this time) add a few handfuls of spring greens to the bowl.
Call it what you will, but this one's worth adding to the summer picnic rotation.
- 1 pound frozen tortellini
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
- 1 ear steamed or boiled corn, kernels sliced off the cob
- 1 tomato, halved, seeds squeezed out, flesh sliced into strips
- 1/2 medium cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out, sliced into strips
- 1/2 small red onion, diced or thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2/3 cup canola or olive oil or a combination
- salt and pepper to taste
- crumbled goat cheese to garnish
Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil. Add the tortellini and cook according to package directions, usually until they float. Drain, rinse, and allow to cool while preparing the other ingredients.
In a small food processor (or whisk by hand in a large serving bowl), combine the vinegar and Dijon mustard. Process for 15 seconds until creamy, or whisk vigorously. Add the oil while the food processor is running to create a smooth emulsion, or dribble slowly into the bowl while whisking constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Combine the vegetables and dressing in a salad bowl. Add the tortellini and toss gently to coat. Season to taste, and serve with goat cheese crumbled on top.