But step No. 3? "Avoid tortellini." Well, we think we found an exception to that rule. We can see how tortellini could be a bad choice for a pasta salad. Something meat-filled might be too heavy, and dried tortellini with reconstituted fillings could bring a bad flavor. But fresh tortellini with a light cheese and herb filling? We think that's just fine.
When we thought about making a pasta salad, the first thing that came to mind was a photo from 101 Cookbooks that we came across more than two years ago. How's that for a powerful image?
Heidi Swanson's recipe calls for a ricotta-stuffed ravioli and lots of "other stuff." We liked the idea of a salad packed with fresh, seasonal vegetables and a fresh, stuffed pasta to add bits of extra flavor. Fresh peas haven't shown up at our just-opened farmer's markets just yet, so we settled for frozen. But as soon as we can get our hands on some fresh peas, we're making this again.
Tortellini and Spring Vegetable Salad(Adapted from 101 Cookbooks)Serves 6 as a side dish
1 package Trader Joe's fresh pesto tortellini (8 ounce) (or any fresh stuffed pasta)
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch spears
1 cup shelled peas (fresh or frozen)
3 cups fresh spinach
4 radishes, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts
Herb and garlic goat cheese (about 5 ounces)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or a squeeze of lemon juice)
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt. Meanwhile, prepare and ice bath and prep vegetables.
When the water is boiling, add the tortellini. It will cook in about 5 minutes (or follow package directions). After 3 minutes, add the asparagus. Add the peas for the last 30 seconds.
Strain the pasta and vegetables and place immediately into the ice bath. Once they've cooled, strain again and pour into a mixing bowl. Add the spinach, radish, chives, pine nuts and goat cheese. Toss with vinegar and oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Related: Twelve Steps to a Better Pasta Salad
(Images: Joanna Miller)