When it comes to summer meals, convenience is key. Most of us want to enjoy the outdoors and limit time in the kitchen. I find salads paired with grilled meat, poultry or fish are a quick way to get the dinner on the table.
Try preparing a pasta salad such as this Tri Colored Tortellini in the morning or evening before you plan to serve. With all ingredients in house it simply takes about 15 minutes. Let it sit and marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving (the longer, the better to allow the flavors to be absorbed into the pasta). A multiple pound batch can last up to 5 days in the fridge. It covers starch, veggie and dairy all in one dish. For vegetarians, its a full fledged meal!
1lb of tri colored cheese tortellini
½ chopped sautéed red pepper
1 head of steamed organic broccoli
½ red onion chopped
1 can of quartered artichoke hearts
1 cup of chopped pepperoni (try Boar’s Head pepperoni stick or if you’re a Chicago land local try uncured by Hasselmann Farm)
1 cup of Kalamata olives
½ cup of cubed smoked Gouda cheese
1 cup of shaved Parmesan
1 ½ cups of Newman’s Own Family Recipe Italian dressing
Salt and Pepper to taste (try 1/4 teaspoon of ground fresh pepper)
Package of Hasselmann's Garlic and Onion Brats
Cook tortellini 5-7 minutes. Strain and immediately pour 1 cup of the Italian dressing over, toss and let cool. Steam the broccoli until a firm soft. Chop the red pepper in 1” strips, sauté in olive oil. When broccoli is down, separate the broccoli into small florets. Combine the warm ingredients (broccoli and peppers) with the cooling tortellini and toss. Add in onion, artichoke, chopped pepperoni, olives and shaved Parmesan. Pour remaining ½ cup of Italian dressing over and toss. Save the cubed smoke Gouda until chilled or right before serving, if it’s added to the mix while its warm, it will melt. Refrigerate in covered glass (plastic absorbs dressings) or stainless container until ready to serve. Before serving toss in Gouda and let sit at room temperature for at least 10-15 minutes before serving. Drizzle more Italian over if needed. Pasta should not stick together, but shouldn’t be too oily.
Grill Brats on charcoal grill over medium-low heat between 300 and 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160-165 degrees. Turn them at half way mark to evenly char each side.