This recipe just goes to show that you can make more in 15 minutes than just a sandwich. This salad relies on store-bought fresh cheese tortellini and a few other grocery staples to make an easy, satisfying lunch salad that hits all the right notes — savory, salty, and sweet; crunchy, chewy, and tender. Even better, you can make today and have the leftovers all week long.
This combination of pasta + fruit + veggies + greens has long been a lunchtime favorite of mine. It's one that I always look forward to eating and that keeps me feeling full and satisfied well into the afternoon. It's also an easy recipe to switch up with the seasons. I'm craving figs right now, so that's what I'm using, but try switching it up with apples, pears, bell peppers, cucumbers, roasted asparagus, or whatever sounds good to you in the moment.
I often make the base of tortellini, fruit, and veggies early in the week and then portion it out with greens every day for lunch. When I worked in an office, I would keep the greens fresh by placing the tortellini mix in a container, adding an extra tablespoon of dressing, and then piling the greens on top — a quick shake at lunchtime combined everything into a perfect one-bowl salad. Walnuts and other nuts get a little waterlogged if combined with the dressing too early, so I keep those separate until eating, as well.
Despite the fact that I mostly eat this as a quick lunch, it actually makes quite a nice dinner salad, especially if I'm off to a potluck or a picnic. Just as when making this for lunch, keep the tortellini base and greens separate if it will be a few hours before you eat it. Once tossed together, it's one salad no one can resist trying.
Tortellini Salad with Figs, Walnuts, Prosciutto & Greens
1 (10-ounce) container fresh cheese tortellini
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup dried Mission figs, stems removed (swap in fresh figs if you have them!)
4 slices prosciutto
5 ounces salad greens (about 5 big handfuls)
2 to 4 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a teaspoon of salt and the tortellini, and cook until the tortellini bob to the surface and are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350°F. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant and beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop once cool enough to handle.
Trim the stems from the Mission figs and roughly chop. Tear the pieces of prosciutto into long ribbons.
Combine the cooked tortellini, figs, prosciutto, and salad greens in a bowl. Toss with enough balsamic vinaigrette to coat — start with 2 tablespoons and add more to taste. Divide the salad between serving bowls and sprinkle the walnuts on top.
To Make This Salad Ahead
Combine the tortellini, figs, and prosciutto in a resealable container. Toss with a tablespoon or 2 of balsamic vinaigrette to prevent the ingredients from drying out or sticking to each other. Store this mix separately from the greens and the walnuts. When ready to eat, toss individual servings of the tortellini mix, greens, and walnuts with another tablespoon or two of balsamic vinaigrette.
If making this salad in the morning for lunch, you can keep the greens fresh by placing the tortellini mix in a container, adding an extra tablespoon of dressing, and then piling the greens on top. A quick shake with the lid on and the salad is ready to eat.
(Images: Emma Christensen)