Summer is fleeting. I awoke this morning to cool, crisp air moving through the house: 59 degrees! So rare on this last day of August in Nashville Tennessee, so telling of the season to come.
These are days to savor outdoors: Clear skies, warm, steady light. There’s still a bounty coming in the garden–corn, squashes, melons, beans, tomatoes. Basil plants the size of shrubs. Today, we’ll enjoy a lunch made with some of these summer garden elements, and relish them at our backyard table.
This tortellini salad is similar to one we always served at the cafÃ© years ago–with some updates. For a pleasing variety in color, taste, and texture, I recommend using both green snap and yellow wax beans, if you have them at your disposal. And, this salad is the perfect place to toss in an assortment of grape and cherry tomatoes. I used my Cherub grapes, Husky cherries and the brilliant Sungolds. In cafÃ© days, I had dressed this in balsamic vinaigrette–long on flavor, but less visually appealing , with its flat brown color. With all my basil begging to be picked, I’m going for a pesto vinaigrette. It delivers the flavor, while allowing the salad to shimmer.
Summer Tortellini Salad
1/2 lb. fresh green beans
1/2 lb. fresh yellow wax beans
1/2 lb. fresh (or frozen) cheese stuffed tortellinis
1 pint cherry (or grape) tomatoes–assorted reds and sungolds
1/4 cup toasted pinenuts
1/4 cup basil chiffonade
1 cup Pesto Vinaigrette
Fill a skillet with water and bring to a boil for blanching the beans. Set up a large bowl of ice water. If you are cooking two types of beans, cook them separately. Wash and snap beans–pinching off the stem and place into boiling water. Blanche for 4 minutes. Plunge into the icy water bath to shock them—stop the cooking process. Drain well and place into a salad bowl.
In the same pot of water, cook the cheese tortellinis, about nine minutes. Drain and add to the bowl with beans. Wash, dry and cut the cherry or grape tomatoes into halves or quartersâ€”depending on sizeâ€”and add to the salad, along with the toasted pine nuts. Pour vinaigrette over all and toss well.
Garnish with a chiffonade of fresh basil.
You might enjoy this served on a bed of fresh greens, or by itself, with a piece of crusty bread to sop up the dressing.
Serves 6 generously.
1 clove fresh Garlic
1 cup Basil leaves
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
3/4 cup Fruity Olive Oil
Place the first five ingredients into a food processor fitted with the swivel blade and pulse until basil and garlic are well chopped. Then, slowly drizzle in the olive oil while processing, until well-incorporated. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Makes one cup.