Tortellini caprese pasta salad
FoodEasy to prepare

Tortellini caprese pasta salad

An excellent dish for beginner cooks and for children to help with

Tortellini caprese salad (Photo by Jessica Grann)
Tortellini caprese salad (Photo by Jessica Grann)

This recipe combines the traditional caprese salad ingredients — fresh mozzarella, basil and juicy in-season tomatoes — with tortellini pasta.

It also happens to be one of the easiest recipes that I’ve ever published, so if you’re pressed for time or don’t have a lot of energy to make something with a lot of steps, this is a wonderful recipe to have on hand. This is also an excellent dish for beginner cooks and for children to help with.

I like to cook in the kitchen as little as possible in the summer, and we make a lot of dairy lunches for Shabbat. I’ve been enjoying the new mini fresh mozzarella balls this past year. I like them for this salad because they’re tiny, and it feels like the cheese goes a bit further. If you can’t find them, you can use the packages the size of cherry tomatoes.

I use cherry or grape tomatoes in this salad and put them in whole. You can tear the fresh basil by hand.

Serves 6 as a side salad

1 bag frozen cheese tortellini
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1 8-ounce package of tiny mozzarella cheese balls
¼ cup fresh basil, washed and torn
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
⅛ teaspoon black pepper or red pepper flakes

Prepare the tortellini pasta al dente according to the directions on the package. The brand that I purchased, Yoni, comes in a 15-ounce package, but you can use packages that are either a bit larger or a bit smaller.

While the tortellini is boiling, add the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to a bowl and whisk until well combined.

When the tortellini is finished cooking, drain the water or scoop the pasta out of the water with a pasta spoon or strainer, and put it into the bowl with the olive oil and vinegar mixture while it’s piping hot.

Adding hot pasta to this mix will help the flavor seep in. It is OK if a little bit of water gets into the bowl with the pasta; I usually add a bit of the cooking water to any pasta dish, which helps the oil or sauce coat the pasta well.

Let it cool for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to help the tortellini get coated well with the vinaigrette. When you start to stir it, you will see a bit of liquid in the bottom of the bowl, but it will dissipate as the vinaigrette gets fully absorbed. Start with 2 tablespoons of vinegar and, if you think you need more, add an extra tablespoon.

Pick up one piece of pasta with your fingers to make sure that it’s completely cool before adding the basil, cheese and cherry tomatoes to the bowl.

Give it a good stir, cover it in plastic wrap and let the salad marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.

This is excellent served either cold or at room temperature. Feel free to adjust the taste to your liking; the flavors soak in as the salad rests, so you may want to add a little vinegar, salt or pepper. I prefer to let the natural basil shine through, and you can add a bit more than suggested if you like. Sometimes I add a tiny bit of garlic powder for more flavor depending on my main dish.

This can be stored refrigerated for about 3 days. Enjoy and bless your hands! PJC

Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.

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