Dining In

Keep Your Cool In The Kitchen
By Nancy Finch, Food Columnist


Tortellini Salad

No time to cook? Too hot to cook?          

There’s a summer solution. Pasta salads. Different ones, too. A far cry from the expected macaroni salad, as good as that is, Tortellini Salad is filling enough for an entrée. With cheese-stuffed tortellini, mixed greens and fresh tomatoes, you have a delicious combination that requires only the addition of some interesting bread and iced tea or wine. Your salad dinner is on the table in minutes.

Even more interesting is Rice Noodle Salad with homemade “Asian Peanut Dressing.” If you enjoy the Asian combination of peanut flavors with entrees, you’ll be delighted with this dressing topping the exotic rice noodles and baby spinach leaves. We garnished the salad with tomato quarters that combined nicely. Or, you can just serve sliced tomatoes on the side — a good addition however you choose to add them.

A few words of caution. The frozen tortellini should be al dente (a bit chewy) but not overcooked. Mine could have stood just a bit longer in the boiling water. While either balsamic salad dressing or Italian is recommended, I suggest the Italian for a tastier result. We used watercress, one of my very favorite greens, but it isn’t always available. Try arugula or the mixed mesclun salad greens otherwise.

For the “Rice Noodle Salad” I mistakenly tried a shortcut and added the Asian dressing to the salad a good hour before it was served. A mistake. Add the remainder of the dressing just before serving. Otherwise, it is absorbed by the noodles. This salad was the favorite of our guests. The “Chief Tester,” my husband, favored the tortellini.

Fettucine may be used if you can’t find the rice noodles, but I strongly recommend these for the real Asian influence. Meanwhile, all you did was boil water! Good for a cool cook and a cool kitchen!

Tortellini Salad

Ingredients:

bullet1 lb. frozen cheese tortellini
bullet1 cup frozen peas
bullet4 T prepared Italian or balsamic salad dressing, divided
bullet1 cup salad greens such as watercress,  arugula or mixed greens
bullet1⁄2  cup diced sweet onion
bulletRipe tomatoes, cut in vertical slices

Directions: Cook tortellini according to package directions, adding peas during the last 30 seconds. Drain. Place in bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the dressing. Toss gently. Cool. Just before serving, add greens, onion and remaining salad dressing (or add more to taste). Toss gently. Top with tomato slices. Serves 4 to 6.

Rice Noodle Salad

Ingredients:

bullet6 oz. rice noodles (or fettuccine)
bulletHomemade Asian peanut dressing, divided*
bullet4 cups packed baby spinach leaves (6-oz. bag)
bullet1⁄2 cup sliced green onions
bulletRipe tomatoes, cut in vertical slices

Directions: Cook noodles according to package directions (about 3 minutes, don’t overcook). Drain. Transfer to a bowl. Add one-third of the dressing. Cool. Just before serving add remaining ingredients and dressing. Makes 4 servings. *Asian Peanut Dressing: In a blender container, combine 1⁄3 cup water, 1⁄2 cup creamy peanut butter, 1⁄2 cup fresh lime juice, 2  t sugar and 1 to 1 1⁄2 t Asian chili oil or 1⁄4  t Tabasco. Combine well in blender until smooth and moderately thick.

 

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