Red Pepper Tortellini salad

This pasta salad is unique and delicious--a great way to mix up your summertime barbeque recipes. And because there's no mayonnaise, it can be outside for just a little longer than typical Summer salads (a little... not a lot...).

Red Pepper Tortellini Salad

2 large red peppers (*see note)
3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 package frozen cheese tortellini (about 1 pound)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp celery seed
8 oz mozzarella cheese
4 green onions
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

1) Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain and put in the fridge to cool.
2) Roast the red peppers:
2a) On a hot grill, place washed red peppers. Cook over direct, high heat about 1-2 minutes per side, until the skin blisters and turns black. Cook all sides, so the skin is all black. You might think you burned it, but it is okay.
2b) Place peppers immediately in a paper bag or in a bowl with a lid. Let sit for 10 minutes to steam.
2c) Run peppers under cool water and peel off the blackened skin with your fingers.
2d) using a paring knife, cut the top and seeds out of the peppers.
3) In a blender or food processor, Puree together: roasted red peppers, balsamic vinegar, oil, and seasonings (not the cheese, green onion, or basil).
4) Cube the cheese into small little blocks. Chop green onion and tear basil into pieces.
5) Mix all ingredients in a large bowl (Tortellini, sauce, cheese, onion, and basil). Chill and serve. Makes about 6 servings.

*Note on roasted red peppers: Roasted red peppers can be found jarred in the condiments and olives section of the grocery store. You can use those in this recipe if you don't want to go to the trouble of roasting your own. Also, roasted red peppers on their own are delicious! Try them on hamburgers or along side steak. Chopped, they pair nicely with just about any pasta sauce. Get brave and try them today!

*Another note. This pasta dish could also be served warm, but the cheese cubes may start to melt a bit. You could also add big chunks of cooked sausage or sliced pepperoni and make it a meal. Other things that would go well in this salad: sliced olives, fresh spinach leaves, capers, cherry tomatoes, or sliced radishes. If you don't have enough sauce to cover all your additions, add some extra balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Get creative!

Photo above is salad made with yellow peppers instead of red, and with chopped black olives and Italian Sausage added.

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