Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tortellini Salad with Asparagus and Fresh Basil Vinaigrette

This salad is so yummy! It makes a nice, light weekday meal. Both Paul and I found it hearty enough to stand alone as a meal, but it would also make a nice side dish for a bigger meal.

I love the flavor of the fresh basil and the shallot. And James really gets a kick out of the tortellini. :)

Tortellini Salad with Asparagus and Fresh Basil Vinaigrette
from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

6 T. olive oil
1/2 c. fresh basil, finely chopped
3 T. lemon juice
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper
1 lb. asparagus, tough ends broken off and sliced on the bias (about 3/4 to 1 inch pieces)
2 packages (9 oz each) fresh cheese tortellini*
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 c.)
1/4 c. pine nuts**, toasted (optional)

*You can find fresh cheese tortellini with the fresh pastas in the same aisle as the cheese. It can be pricey, but since there is no meat in this dish, the cost is still comparable to other meals.

**OK, pine nuts are extremely expensive! Who knew? I have left these out both times we've had this salad, and it's still been delicious. I'm sure the pine nuts would add a nice texture and flavor to the dish, though, so if you're in the mood to splurge, go for it!

Bring a large pot of water to boil and season with 1 T. salt.

In a large bowl (big enough for the whole salad), whisk together the olive oil, chopped basil, lemon juice, minced shallot, minced garlic, 1/2 t. salt, and 1/2 t. pepper.

When water is boiling, add asparagus and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Scoop out asparagus with a slotted spoon and transfer to a colander, do not discard the water. Return the pot of water to the stove and return to a boil. Rinse asparagus under cold water until cool. Toss asparagus in the bowl with the salad dressing.

When water returns to a boil, cook tortellini according to directions on the package. When pasta is tender, drain and toss with the asparagus and dressing while still hot. Refrigerate salad until chilled (at least 30 minutes).

Just before serving, toss salad with halved tomatoes and Parmesan cheese (and toasted pine nuts, if using). Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

Enjoy! :)

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