Picture a heaping spoonful of the perfect Pasta Salad — tiny pockets of cheese-filled tortellini, bits of crunchy, fragrant pine nuts which have been lightly toasted, aged parmesan cheese, and strips of sun-dried tomatoes all tossed in a delicious basil pesto dressing. I honestly don’t know how five random ingredients can taste so heavenly …
And the deep layers of flavor in this pasta salad are such a refreshing twist on the mayonnaise-based elbow macaroni versions which invariably seem to lack the flavor punch I crave. It’s sooooo much prettier too! I’m pretty darn certain that when you showcase this eye-catching medley at your next picnic, company potluck, dinner party or family meal, you’ll instantly transition to “Rockstar” status!
Tortellini Pasta Salad with Basil Pesto Dressing
(Serves 4-6) Prep time: 20 minutes
- 16 ounces small cheese-filled tortellini pasta
- 1/2 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes in oil
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano Cheese
- 8 ounces basil pesto (click on this link for my pesto recipe; store-purchased can also be used)
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
Cook the tortellini to al dente, according to package directions. While the tortellini is cooking, toast the pine nuts in a small skillet over medium flame, tossing frequently (about 5 minutes). Drain and rinse the tortellini in a colander. Allow the pasta and pine nuts to cool for about 15 minutes.
Gently toss all ingredients in a large salad bowl. For optimum flavor, cover the salad and allow it to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving. Taste, adding salt and pepper if needed. (If you’re preparing this salad a day in advance, transfer it to the refrigerator. Prior to serving, bring the pasta salad back to room temperature, and add a bit of olive oil to moisten if needed.)