June 15th, 2013


Balsamic Tortellini Salad

For electronic posterity... since I've been making this recipe long enough that I'm on my second hand-written copy (I don't even remember if the original recipe was in a book or online).

Begin making this an hour before you want to serve it. I've done it in as little as 30 minutes, but it's better if the tortellini has time to really soak up the vinaigrette dressing.

For the marinade/dressing:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tsp oregano

  • scant 1/2 tsp salt

For the salad:

  • about 1 pound of tortellini (frozen or fresh)

  • 6oz (at least) of spinach (or lettuce - I usually buy a 6-8oz pre-washed bag and use the whole thing)

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion

  • 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles

1. Cook tortellini according to package instructions.
2. While tortellini is cooking, combine all the "dressing" ingredients in a large bowl (use a whisk or shake it up in a jar and pour into the bowl).
3. When the tortellini is finished cooking, drain and run cold water over it until it's close to room temperature.
4. Toss the cooled tortellini with the dressing; refrigerate for 1 hour.
5. Remove from refrigerator, stir to move the dressing around again, then add greens, onions, and cheese. Toss and serve.

Optional: add grape tomatoes to add a little color to the salad.

Ham "Sandwich" Pasta Salad

For posterity's sake, before my newspaper clipping disintegrates. According to the newspaper clipping, this is originally from the 1997 cookbook "Desperation Dinners!" I've been making this for about 2 years, and it's always a hit.

Start to finish: about 20 minutes.
Serves 2 as an entree or 4 as a side dish (I often double it to feed our whole family).

  • 1 cup dry elbow macaroni

  • 1/4 cup "light" mayonnaise (we usually use regular mayo, but the recipe calls for light)

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (we usually use yellow mustard, more kid-friendly)

  • 1/4 tsp onion powder

  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper, or more to taste

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cooked ham (either leftover ham from a different meal, or deli ham)

  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half

  • 1 large celery stalk, finely chopped

  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and drain well.
2. While the pasta is cooking, combine remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.
3. Add drained pasta and stir well. Serve over lettuce leaves if desired.