Rita's Tortellini Salad

My mother has several rock solid recipes that she is known for. One of them is Tortellini Salad. She has been making it for years.  It is often requested when she goes to family and friend gatherings. It is bold and bright in flavor. It has the crunch from the many veggies that are in it, not to mention a punch from the fresh garlic and crushed red pepper she always adds. I can remember once making a large batch of it with my mom for one of our family gathering that my husband attended when we were dating.  About a week later my husband had a pot luck at work and called me asking for the recipe. I laughed and gladly gave it to him, and not too long after he told me one of his co-workers called him asking for the famous salad recipe.  I guess you can say the recipe has made the rounds.

Veggies, olives, and garlic ready.

Just last week we had plans to go to a friend’s place for a roof top BBQ. I was contemplating what to make. I really do not like showing up with a dessert all the time because I feel like people expect it coming from a pastry chef. When you bake and make pastries all day long I sometimes feel like I need to branch out and make something different to break the chain of it all. I opened up my freezer when I noticed I had tortellini – ahh haa! I knew what I was making!

I had everything I needed for the recipe, it was a no brainer. I started chopping, roasting a pepper, and cooking the tortellini. I had it all made, and marinating in the refrigerator when I received a call from Brian. Unfortunately, our plans had been cancelled because not everyone could make it. But the salad was ready and Brian’s response was – More for us! So that evening we enjoyed some of my mom’s famous salad. It was delicious, and enjoyed the next day for lunch as well. Trust me with this recipe. It is full proof, crowd pleasing, and super tasty. I am sure you will not be disappointed, and you will make my mom proud if you make it.

My mom's (Rita) Tortellini Salad, dressed and ready.

Rita’s Tortellini Salad (feeds 4-6)

*This recipe is easily doubled and tripled when needed. Also, this is the way I like to make it. My mom makes it with the addition of some chopped black olives (canned olives) and a  few tablespoons of capers.

1 pound of Cheese Tortellini (I personally use the frozen ones)

1 large carrot

2 stalks of celery

1 bell pepper

1 roasted pepper (freshly roasted or jarred)

2 cups green Sicilian Olives

*all the above chopped small

1 clove garlic minced

1 tsp crushed red pepper

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

5-6 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

First, place a four quart pot full with salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling gently add you tortellini and cook per packaged instructions. Once cooked drain and toss with about a 1 tbsp of you olive oil and set aside.

Next, in your serving bowl place all your veggies, olives, and garlic. To this add your mustard, crushed red pepper, olive oil, and vinegar.  Toss it all together and then add your tortellini to it.  And toss it again. Place it in the refrigerator, covered; to chill and marinate together.  (Best when sits anywhere from an hour to overnight.)

Finally, before serving remove from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. (I like to let it sit for at least twenty minutes.) Upon serving sprinkle it with your basil, sea salt, and black pepper. Toss it all together and it is ready to enjoy.