Antipasto Pesto Tortellini Salad

So, yeh. In truth, you could use any pasta in this lovely little salad, but I figured, “Hey! I have the pesto tortellini from Trader Joe’s; why not just run with the theme?”

And it was good.

Likewise, you could just use a jar of your fave Italian dressing – regular or creamy – but how cool to be able to customize a packet of Italian dressing mix? I used  an all natural, gluten free local brand, but any powdered Italian dressing mix’ll do.

•1/2 cup mayonnaise
•1/2 cup olive oil
•1/2 cup rice vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
•1 packet Italian dressing mix

•16 oz pesto stuffed tortellini
•Greek olives, pitted
•Feta cheese, cubed
•Pepadew and Peruvian peppers
•Red onion, thinly sliced
•Peperoncini, sliced
•Asparagus, blanched and chopped
•Italian cold cuts, sliced into strips

Note: I picked up my olives and feta and peppers from the olive bar at the market; feel free to substitute with your own faves.

Combine the dressing mix with the mayonnaise, olive oil, and vinegar and set aside. I used my immersion blender, but a whisk’ll do the job just as well.

Cook the tortellini according to package instructions, then drain and rinse.

Rinse? Yes – you should rinse your cooked pasta when using it for a salad.

Pour your prepared dressing over the cooked, rinsed, and cooled pasta and stir to combine.

Note: ideally, you should do this a few hours, or, even better, the day before you plan to complete and serve your salad. That way, the pasta will have time to soak up some of the dressing (and flavor).

Add the veggies, cheese, and cold cuts and toss to combine.

Cover tightly and stash in the fridge until ready to serve.

Just as with making and dressing the pasta ahead of time, if you toss the salad and let it rest in the fridge, the flavors will meld and develop nicely.

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