Pasta salad seems to be the standard summer side. Penne, mayonnaise, olives, unwrap package from store. Repeat. This week, I decided to put a twist on the standard pasta salad, and it was just the change everyone needed as we say farewell to summer, and all mayo-inspired sides that come along with it.
I doubled this recipe, so the pictures may be deceiving.
6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic reduction
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 shallot , minced
1 clove garlic , minced
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 pound asparagus
2 (10-ounce) packages fresh cheese tortellini
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 pint grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 package of fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic reduction, shallots, basil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Let the dressing sit while you prepare the rest of the salad. (Yours will look darker than this! I decided to add the balsamic reduction after tasting it on the tortellini, so there’s no balsamic in this picture).
When the asparagus is done, use a slotted spoon to take it out of the boiling water (rather than pouring it through a strainer). Then, you can cook the tortellini in that same pot of water, still boiling. Cook the tortellini according to the package directions (my fresh tortellini took about 7-8 minutes), then pour it through a strainer and run it under cold water.
Pour your pine nuts into a small pan and light the burner on medium low. Every 30 seconds or so, shake the pan to move the nuts around. They burn very easily (I learned the hard way the first time I ever used them!) so keep a close eye on them. They should toast to a light brown color in about 4-5 minutes.