I just put this pasta salad together for my family's pre-Christmas potluck. Everybody loved it. It's very easy to make the night before, transports easily in a cooler and tastes great the next day. This recipe makes a pretty big batch for a large crowd, but you can halve the ingredients for a smaller gathering, such as a New Year's Day brunch.
- 16 ozs 2 Packages Refrigerated Cheese Tortellini
- 1 pt Basket Grape Tomatoes (halved)
- 1 cup Broccolli Florets (cut into small pieces)
- 16 ozs Mozzarella Cheese (cut into 1 inch cubes)
- 1 and ½ cup Prepared Pesto Sauce
- Fresh Basil Leaves
Cook the tortellini according to the package directions in a large pot (I used rainbow cheese tortellini from Sam's Club.) Make sure your pot is big enough to allow the pasta to move around freely. If the pasta are stuck together in the package, it's best to separate them before putting them into the cooking water. About 30 seconds before your pasta is done, throw in the broccoli florets to blanch. Immediately drain the pasta (into another large catch bowl if you're saving the water to recyle for your plants) and pour very cold water over it to stop the cooking. Note: It's a good idea to have a large pan or pitcher of very cold water ready to go. Remove any ice from the water before your pour it over the pasta. The pasta can be damaged if you have to fish out any pieces of ice. After the pasta and broccoli are thoroughly drained, gently pour the mixture into your serving or storage bowl (don't put it back into the hot cooking pan.) Gently mix 1 Tablespoon of olive oil into the mix to keep the pasta from sticking together, especially if you are not going to add the pesto immediately. Add one cup of halved grape tomatoes and 2 cups of cubed mozarella cheese. Pour 1 1/2 cups of pesto over the mixture (I used Sam's Club Member's Mark jarred pesto. It comes in a 22 oz. jar.) Toss gently until well coated. Chill for at least 2 hours. Can be made the day before your event. Garnish with fresh basil leaves just before serving.
Added Saturday, Dec. 26, 2009