I made this pasta salad recently for my boyfriend who was visiting me in Spain. Pasta is essentially a food group for him, as I imagine to be the case with many vegetarians. However red sauce can become a bit monotonous, so I wanted to try something new.
The pasta he chose from my local market was a dried cheese-filled tortellini. I was skeptical about the quality, but it was absolutely delicious at an unbeatable price (one of the many perks of living in Spain: Bread, pasta and beer are cheaper than water).
With cheese tortellini, I wasn’t going to use a cheese sauce – though knowing Jeff, he would be all about that. I wanted to highlight the cheese by trying a new oil based sauce, like a dressing. It needed to be properly flavored to compliment the cheese. I also wanted to utilize the typical Spanish pantry items. The qualifying staples in my cocina are vidalia onions, garlic, olive oil, red pimentos and balsamic vinegar. Many of these items have a slight sweetness to them, which turned out to work perfectly, in an unexpected way with pasta. I love combining salty and sweet in my savory recipes as well as desserts. If you’re the same way, then this is for you. Salt and pepper are added to balance it out – you may want to adjust the salt measurement to your taste preference, but if you’re using salted butter, you won’t need much.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
- 4 cups cooked cheese tortellini
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium clove garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 julienned bell pepper
- 1 juliened sweet onion
- ¼ cup pimento peppers, chopped small
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Begin by bringing the olive oil and crushed garlic clove to a simmer over medium high heat in a medium sauce pan. Reduce heat to medium to prevent burning. Allow to simmer for about 4 minutes or until garlic begins to turn golden brown. Once the clove is starting to brown all over, remove from oil and discard.
- Return to medium high heat. Add peppers and onions to hot oil and cook for two minutes, stirring frequently. The peppers and onions should be somewhat crowded in the pan. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until soft and onions are slightly browned, approximately 8 minutes, continuing to stir every minute or so. If oil is reducing quickly, turn heat down a bit more.
- Once the vegetables are softened, stir in chopped pimento and cook for another two minutes. Turn off heat.
- Add in butter and stir until completely melted.
- Stir in cooked tortellini and combine with vegetables well.
- Stir in salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar and remove from stove.