The weather here in Massachusetts isn’t quite sure what’s happening. Nature, on the other hand, thinks it’s a great time for birds, bees, and buds. I have a small pond behind my place and the ducks have returned from their winter hideaway. That’s how I know spring is finally here! I even heard a bug the other night! Amazing.
Another surefire sign is peepers. Sounds dirty, but they’re actually little frogs that peep–loudly–and they’re a small sign of hope for those of us who put on sweaters in the morning and sweat by noon (or wear no coat to work and there’s a snowstorm. Happened to me last week. Don’t want to talk about it).
Culinarily-speaking, there’s the rise of fresh fruits and vegetables and recipes that don’t require an oven.
I have a whole bunch of showers, baby and bridal, to attend in the coming months and I got to thinking about what I could bring that was easy and feeds a crowd.
Any kind of pasta salad is sure to 1. go quickly and 2. feed a million people. It’s some kind of physics law, I don’t know.
This tortellini salad from Two Peas & Their Pod is perfect for spring, summer…even fall and winter. It’s just plain Perfect, with a capital P.
Greek Tortellini Salad
FOR THE SALAD:
- 1 (20 ounce) package refrigerated cheese tortellini
- 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 large cucumber, chopped
- 1 cup kalamata olives, pit removed and chopped
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
FOR THE DRESSING:
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the tortellini according to the package directions. Drain the tortellini and rinse with cold water.
- Place the tortellini in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, cucumber, olives, red onion, and feta cheese.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir until salad is well coated. Serve immediately or place in the refrigerator.
- Note-this salad will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Let’s just jump right into pro-tips because this first one is a big one.
Pro-tip #1: olives optional. I KNOW. I am aware, friends. I love olives. I really do. However, there’s a population of people who think they are gross. I brought this salad to a pool party potluck and friends who eat anything avoided my salad like the plague. The culprit? Olives. Maybe leave them on the side if you know that your people aren’t into olives. Sorry, olives. I still love you.
Pro-tip #2: dress and refrigerate. The cool thing about these kinds of salads is you can make the pasta, leave it, make the salad, leave it, then serve. Fool proof. Granted, I wouldn’t make the pasta a week ahead of time, but. I’ve made this and served immediately, but I find it best when it marinates together in the fridge for about an hour or two and then you serve it. The pasta and vegetables really soak up that homemade dressing and the flavors all combine. Yum.
Pro-tip #3: yvmmv. As always, your veggie mileage may vary. This is Greek tortellini salad and so cucumbers, olives, red onion, feta, tomatoes, all of those exist in here as very traditionally Greek ingredients. We all know my love affair with Mediterranean cuisine; I was drawn to this pasta salad like a moth to a flame. However, if your people aren’t onion fans, leave ’em to the side. No harm, no foul.
Pro-tip #4: soak your red onions in water for 30 min. Red onions get a bad rep for being too tart, too pungent. A little tip I learned along the way is to slice and then soak. Why? Water washes away the enzymes that make us cry and that give red onion in particular those really biting, uh, bites. I only soak red onions, never white et al. Trust me, you still get the onion flavor, just without the wicked bite.
I’d like to say that I do not like pasta, but I make an exception for tortellini. Why? Frankly, I think it’s neat to have my cheese already there. It also makes for a great bite of pasta salad that’s not fusilli or elbow or what have you. The salad is hearty and a nice side for a vegetable salad or a burger. It’s something a little off the beaten path, here, and it really does feed a crowd.
Warmer weather is coming, friends. Just hold on a little longer.