I’m a huge proponent of clean, from scratch cooking. I’m also realistic. I know that if I, a single girl with no kids is too tired to cook some days, families or single parents must feel this way on a scale that I can’t even fathom. And short cuts are better than take out. Cheaper, too!
Today’s recipe is a nod to a packaged ingredients. We’re using prepared tortellini today, because if you make your tortellini from scratch, well, you’re a better human being than me and I’d like us to meet immediately so you can share your secrets.
You can use frozen or fresh tortellini, your choice. I used some from the refrigerated section for this recipe, just plain cheese ones. I like to use whole wheat pastas whenever possible, but alas, my grocery store only had white flour ones available. Use whatever you like the best.
We’re going to fancy this up a bit by combining basil pesto (jarred or homemade is fine), sundried tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, some onion, fresh bell pepper into a lovely ‘sauce’, mix in some fresh baby spinach, top with cheese, and you have a comforting pasta dish that is perfect for a weekend lunch, quick dinner, or double the recipe and serve as a chilled salad at your next gathering. Trust me, people will love it, and only you and I will know how easy it was to make!
tortellini with pesto and peppers.
inspired by tortellini salad from Wegmans.com.
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
16 oz. frozen or fresh cheese tortellini
1/4 medium onion, diced
1/2 red or orange bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup prepared basil pesto (recipe below)
2-3 fire roasted bell peppers (I like the jarred ones from Trader Joe’s)
2 tbsp. parmesan cheese
4-6 sundried tomatoes (dry or drained, if packed in oil)
salt and pepper, dash of each
3 cups fresh baby spinach
4 medium cloves of garlic
3 ounces of basil leaves
2 tablespoons pine nuts (can sub in walnuts)
3 tablespoons Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons Pecorino-Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher sea salt
Add garlic, salt and nuts to a food processor and pulse until they begin to form a rough paste. Add both cheeses and pulse until just combined. Add in basil a handful at a time, pulsing until combined. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while pulsing the food processor until incorporated. Consistency should be smooth yet rustic.
In a large pot, heat water and cook tortellini to package instructions. Drain and set aside. While the pasta is cooking, heat remaining ½ tablespoon of oil is small skillet over high heat. Once slightly smoking, add bell pepper and onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes until crisp tender and slightly blackened.
Slice jarred peppers and sundried tomatoes into a large dice or strips (dependent upon preference) and pat dry with paper towel. Toss tortellini and pesto together in a large bowl. Add spinach, tomatoes, jarred peppers and peppers and onions from the skillet to the tortellini and mix together until all are combined. Add more pesto if desired or seems dry. Top with parmesan cheese and serve. Can be served warm, room temperature or chilled. Serves 4 as a light dinner.
**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible**