Tortellini Salad

This is a complete salad. That is, all you need to add for a very satisfying meal is a tossed leafy salad and some good crusty bread. The method used here produces a distinct, yet subtle flavored salad without being "overdressed."


8 dry oz. Tortellini
1 clove GarlicMinced
3 tbsp White Wine Vinegar
½ cup Pine Nuts
1 cup Basil, FreshLeaves washed and dried and sliced or torn into small pieces, an eighth inch or so
½ cup Parmesan CheeseGrated quite finely
¼ cup ParsleyOptional, leaves washed and dried and minced
1 tsp Salt
cups TomatoesPreferably of the grape or cherry type cut into halves or quarters; larger tomatoes cut into one half inch cubes
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil


1 For the pine nuts, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pine nuts in a pan or dish, preferably so the nuts are in a single layer. Toast them for about ten minutes. Check to see if they're browning. They should attain a golden brown color. If more time is needed, shake the pan a little to redistribute the nuts and let bake a bit longer. HOWEVER, check frequently, every minute or so. Anything beyond the golden-brown stage brings on a burnt taste. The pine nuts are wonderful at the golden brown. At that point, however, they darken rapidly accompanied by a very bitter taste. When toasted, leave the pine nuts to cool.
2 Have immediately available the salt, olive oil and vinegar, also a good-sized mixing bowl.
3 In a medium size pot, bring about two quarts of water to a boil. Add the salt(very important!), and then the tortellini to the boiling water. Let the tortellini boil just to the point that they still has some good texture, al dente. I find this happens in less time than recommended on the pasta package. If it recommends 9-12 minutes, I definitely use the lesser amount of time. Immediately drain the tortellini and gently toss them into the mixing bowl.
4 Add the olive oil and carefully toss the tortellini with a wooden spoon.
5 You'll note my use of the words "gently" and "carefully." Tortellini are delicate after being cooked and our hope is to preserve them intact.
6 After just a few minutes, not more than five, sprinkle on the tortellini about a tablespoon of the vinegar and the minced garlic. Combine these ingredients. Leave the tortellini to absorb the vinegar.
7 After about five or ten minutes sprinkle on another tablespoon or so of the vinegar and toss the pasta again. Do this one more time a little later.
8 Leave the tortellini to cool.
9 When at room temperature, add the grated cheese, basil, parsley(if using), tomatoes, and pine nuts.
10 Your salad is ready and best served at room temperature.