In this pasta salad, the creamy tortellini are nicely complemented by the freshness of the veggies, the crunch of the walnuts, and the light tang of the basil-balsamic vinaigrette. The use of both red and yellow bell peppers makes it extra colorful.
You can substitute fresh tortellini for the frozen, if you prefer. However, I find that the frozen tortellini tend to be firmer and hold their shape better in this kind of recipe.
1 pound frozen cheese tortellini 1 pound fresh asparagus 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and cut into julienne slices 1 small yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into julienne slices 1 cup walnut pieces 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 3 to 4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar*, to taste 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, shredded or coarsely chopped Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cook the tortellini according to the package directions. Rinse the tortellini in cold water to stop the cooking, drain, and set aside.
Meanwhile, rinse the asparagus and break off the tough ends. (If you hold the asparagus spear at each end and bend it slightly, it will break at the right spot.) If using thicker spears, trim off the larger buds near the bottom of the stalk as desired. Cut the asparagus spears diagonally into 1-inch pieces. Blanch the asparagus by boiling (or by microwaving with a small amount of water) for 1-3 minutes, until crisp-tender. Rinse in cold water to stop the cooking, drain, and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the tortellini, asparagus, bell peppers, and walnuts.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the olive oil and vinegar until well blended, and then whisk in the basil, salt, and pepper.
Pour the dressing over the tortellini mixture, and gently toss until all salad ingredients are coated with the dressing.
Refrigerate if not using immediately. Serve at room temperature or lightly chilled.
-- 6-8 servings