Monday, April 25, 2011

Antipasto Tortellini Salad

When my oldest daughter was living in Italy, I had the opportunity to take part in some truly magical meals. Sunday afternoons in Italy are often spent lingering around a table with family and friends, devouring course after course of homemade delicacies. Usually, an antipasto marks the beginning of a traditional Italian meal; something salty, sweet, or meaty to stimulate the appetite. After the antipasto comes the first course—my daughter’s favorite course—the pasta. What I discovered during these languorous Sunday meals in Italy, is that by the time the second course arrived (the meat), I was already full, and there were still more courses on the way!

My Antipasto Tortellini Salad is a delicious way to combine the antipasto and the first course. While created originally as a way to save room for the rest of Sunday lunch, this dish can easily stand alone as a complete meal.

The honey vinaigrette brings a touch of sweetness to the creamy little bites of cheese tortellini and strips of salty salami. The peppers, tomatoes, parsley and olives add freshness and crunch.

The end result is beautifully balanced. After I took my first bite I knew that this was a keeper. I served the Antipasto Tortellini Salad at room temperature so that the cheesy tortellini center would remain soft and velvety. This was the optimal choice, but the chilled leftover tortellini salad was pretty tasty as well.

I tossed the hot tortellini with the vinaigrette to let the pasta absorb the flavor of the dressing. This is an important step, as it makes the difference between a salad dripping with vinaigrette, and a salad that has evenly absorbed the flavors.

While an 8-ounce package of Barilla tortellini reads that it feeds two people, when prepared as an antipasto salad, this can easily be a main dish for four or an appetizer for six.
8 oz. pack Barilla Three Cheese Tortellini
½ red pepper, sliced into strips
½ yellow pepper, sliced into strips
3 ounces dry salami, sliced into strips
2 ¼ ounce can Black olives, sliced and drained
10 ounce pack Grape tomatoes, sliced in half
½ cup Fresh flat leaf parsley, rough chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. black pepper

Make the dressing by placing all the ingredients in a bowl except the olive oil. Then slowly whisk in the olive oil until you have a nicely thickened dressing. Set aside. The dressing will get more body as it sits, from the honey.

Place the red and yellow peppers, salami, black olives and grape tomatoes in a large mixing bowl.

Cook tortellini according to the package (I cooked mine for 10 minutes in salted water). Drain and place hot tortellini into bowl with the peppers and salami. Pour dressing over and toss all ingredients together gently. Let ingredients sit with the dressing for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to coat evenly (the warm pasta will absorb most of the dressing).

Stir in the parsley and serve.

1 comment:

  1. Wow this salad looks incredible, can't wait to try this myself! Glad to be your newest follower! :)