Friday, August 10, 2012

Farm Fridays: Tortellini Pesto Salad

I am back in the country and it is Farm Friday! After spending several weeks in pursuit of vegetables on foreign shores, I have found the mother lode in Pennington. My CSA share today was epic. Behold the glory: 

Blackberries, watermelon, summer squash, tomatoes, green beans, jalapenos, potatoes, chard, basil, parsley, shallots, bell peppers and eggplant, along with a lovely large bouquet of flowers. There was so much going on that it was difficult for me to decide on a menu for the week. Normally, I give top priority in my planning to things that are very perishable and any leftovers from the previous week. Today, overwhelmed with options (and feeling the jet lag), I was a bit more haphazard. Hopefully we will get through a good portion of this pile without it spoiling! I may have to make a ton of pesto this weekend to use up my half pound of basil.

Pesto was on the menu for today, but instead of making some fresh, I felt obliged to try and use up the last of my frozen pesto from last summer. Last July, to be precise. It's quite a bit past its peak (which was technically in December), but it tastes fine and I can't countenance wasting it. So fresh pesto will have to wait another day or two. Until then, old pesto or not, I will be enjoying this delicious tortellini salad, packed with summer vegetables. If it pleases you, feel free to make yours with fresher stuff.

Since I'm finally back home, expect to see more recipes on the site soon!  

Tortellini Pesto Salad
Adapted from a recipe found in the Wegman's circular a few summers ago.

1 package cheese tortellini (I used tricolor because it looks pretty)
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced (red might be nice, but green's what's available)
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 small bunch asparagus, cut into 2" pieces (I know what you're thinking - asparagus is not in season. But, if you remember, I froze some back when it was, to have it available for recipes just like this! Feel free to leave it out if there isn't any available locally.)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 zucchini, sliced into half moons or quarters
3 tbsp pine nuts
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
3-4 oz basil pesto
15 basil leaves, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Cook the tortellini according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Season the pepper, shallot, asparagus and zucchini with salt and pepper, then drizzle with olive oil. Transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet and arrange in a single layer. Roast for 10-12 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the vegetables are cooked through and soft, though not yet browned. Remove and set aside.

Meanwhile, toast pine nuts in a small pan on the stove top for 2-3 minutes, shaking frequently, until they begin to brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine tortellini, vegetables, pine nuts, pesto and sliced tomatoes. Gently stir to distribute the pesto. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Serve room temperature or chilled, as either a main course or a side dish.

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