August 7, 2013

Pesto Tortellini Salad with Asparagus


One of the joys of summer is the abundance of fresh basil.  I just adore fresh basil.  And in this salad, I used it in one of my favorite ways to enjoy it - pesto.  Then I combined it with one of my favorite pastas - cheese tortellini.  Then I added one of my favorite vegetables - fresh asparagus.  And that gives us this gorgeous Pesto Tortellini Salad with Asparagus!

And ohhhhhhh, it's good.

I love the way the pesto settles into all the nooks and crannies of the tortellini ... and the crispy crunch of the just-barely-cooked blanched asparagus .... and the monochromatic all-green color scheme.  

I'll admit, though, that I was bothered by the all-green at first ... and tried several additions to give a pop of color.  But I didn't like any of them.  I was in love with the flavor of the salad just as it was in all it's pretty green-ness, without the add-ins.

So I got over it.

And decided I love the all-green monochromatic color scheme.  So there.

For the pesto, you can certainly use jarred prepared pesto.  I do it all the time.

Or, you can make your own.  I do that all the time, too.

It's really easy.

Just toss a whole lot of fresh basil into a food processor with some Parmesan or Romano cheese, garlic, olive oil, and some nuts.  Pine nuts are traditional ... but I like to make mine with walnuts.

Then give it a whirl ... and ding! ... you've got pesto!  {Okay, did anyone else just think of the movie 'You've Got Mail?'  Or am I the only one...}

Oh, hey ... did you know you can freeze pesto?  Yep, you can save all that summer goodness for later.

I scoop 1/4-cup measures into the center of a piece of plastic wrap, then pull up the edges of the plastic wrap and give them a little twist, creating a little pesto ball.  Then I pop them into a gallon zip-top bag and freeze away.

If you'd like to make your own pesto, check out Martha at A Family Feast's Pesto recipe.  She graciously let me share her recipe with you, since I've never actually measured when I've made mine and written it down. {Thank you so much, Martha!}

Whip up a big bowl of this salad to enjoy summer's basil goodness ... or, pop some pesto away in the freezer to enjoy this salad later.  Either way, your tummy will thank you!

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Pesto Tortellini Salad with Asparagus
Source:  A Tracey original
  • 1 (19 oz.) package fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
  • 1 lb. fresh asparagus
  • 1/2 c. prepared pesto (jarred or make your own)
  • 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  1. Remove tough ends of the asparagus spears by snapping them off; discard. Cut asparagus into 2-inch pieces.
  2. Blanche the asparagus: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add asparagus and cook for 3 minutes (even if the water doesn't return to a boil, that's okay ... cook the asparagus for only the 3 minutes). Drain asparagus in a large colander and immediately dunk the drained asparagus in ice water to stop the cooking process.* Set aside.
  3. Cook the tortellini in boiling water, according to package directions; drain. Place tortellini in a large bowl. Add the pesto and toss to coat while the tortellini is still warm.
  4. Add the olive oil, Parmesan, salt, and pepper; gently mix to combine. Add the asparagus and toss. Chill for a few hours before serving.  Drizzle with a touch of additional olive oil at serving time if desired.
* I fill one side of my double kitchen sink with cold water and place some ice cubes in it while the water is coming to a boil.  Once the asparagus is cooked, I drain it in a large colander in the empty side of the sink.  Then, I dunk the asparagus ... colander and all ... into the ice water on the other side.  If you don't have a double-sided sink, rinse the drained asparagus with cold water, tossing it around with your fingers in the colander as you do, until you no longer feel any warmth coming from the asparagus.



  1. It is full of green and looks so delicious. I am going to try it. Thanks for the recipe.

  2. Looks delicious Tracey! And thanks for sharing our pesto recipe! I have to try it with this recipe!

  3. I love the idea of adding asparagus with this. I am always looking for new things to do with that veggie, so this is a great idea..

  4. Looks really great! I can not wait to make it, thanks for sharing....

  5. Pinned it to my easy to be green board, not only is seasonal with the asparagus but so satisfying with the tortellini, good for anytime! of the year. Came to you via Frugal Foodie Mama's party.

  6. I can almost taste the fresh basil in this dish! Yum!! Last year my basil didnt grow so well but I must try again theres nothing better than fresh basil from the garden.

  7. This looks like such a delicious pasta dish! I love tortellini but only ever use them in a soup that I make, I really need to branch out more and use them in different ways! This looks so good!!!!

  8. Oh. My. Pesto. Does this look delicious or what!!?! I already Pin'd and will be making ASAP. Thanks so much for sharing! =) Marcy @ day2day SuperMom

  9. have you tried it with prosciutto tortellini?


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