Monday, September 19, 2011

Tortellini Pasta Salad

Summer is quickly fading to fall here in New England. I love the fall. I love the colors, the cool air, watching football games, but most of all, I love fall cooking and baking....

BUT, it's not quite fall yet, so I have one last summer recipe to share. I have made lots of different styles of pasta salads in my lifetime. Some are great, some are just so-so, but this recipe I came across is really good. The ingredients of the salad itself are very simple, but the dressing that goes on it is what makes it so great. This got big thumbs up in my house, even from my picky husband!

Tortellini Pasta Salad
(recipe adapted from Our Best Bites)

20-24oz fresh or frozen mixed cheese tortellini
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium sized cucumber, sliced into half moons
1 cup whole, pitted black olives, halved
1 cup Ground Mustard and Garlic Vinaigrette (recipe below)

First, make the Ground Mustard and Garlic Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
2 green onions, firm white parts only (remove hairy ends)
4-5 medium sized cloves of fresh garlic
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1-2 tsp honey (I used more because I like it sweeter--can also use sugar)
1-2 T coarse grain mustard, to your taste (or dijon, but the coarse grain mustard tastes better)
1 cup canola oil

Using a blender, combine all of the dressing ingredients except for the oil. Blend on high until thoroughly mixed and then, while the blender is running, slowly add the oil in a steady stream.
I suggest allowing the dressing to refrigerate for an hour or so before adding it to the salad. (the dressing is also great on leafy green salads)

For the salad:

Prepare tortellini as directed on package. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Combine the onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and pasta in a large bowl. Add the prepared dressing and gently toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving and then add more dressing if desired. Enjoy!

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