When I first found out that the theme for this month’s No Croutons Required was Mediterranean Salads, I was thoroughly unperturbed. As someone who is 100% Italian I thought, I’ve got this in the bag.

And then, like the true logician that I am, I started to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, visions of if/else and if/then statements running through my head. I was being haunted by the ghost of Aristotle, if you will, which is quite fitting considering the fact that Greece is one of the major culinary centers of the Mediterranean world.

What makes a certain dish Mediterranean? And if a country borders this body of water then is all of the food that originates from there considered to be Mediterranean food? Or is there only a subset of that country’s cuisine that truly qualifies?

So I did what I do best, which is consulted Wikipedia. But alas, I am finally beginning to see what my professors mean when they say that Wikipedia is not the most reliable source on the web (perish the thought!). Thus, I did the next best thing which was to perform a google search. And here is what I learned.

The Mediterranean is divided into three culinary regions: North African, eastern Mediterranean, and southern European. Even though these are seemingly disparate entities, their food has the shared trait of using “robust and clear” flavors; as a result, it is essentially what we think of when we think of home cooking. Onions, garlic, tomatoes, and olive oil abound in all of these areas and thus often serve as the base upon which a dish is built. Vegetables are also extremely prominent (eggplant, squash, peppers, mushrooms, okra, artichokes, and cucumbers), as are legumes (lentils, chickpeas, fava beans, green beans, and white kidney beans), and herbs (rosemary, basil, cilantro, parsley, dill, mint, fennel, and oregano). In addition, there is a definite emphasis on cooking from the ground with what is local and available rather than with esoteric spices and herbs from foreign and distant lands.

And what is more local than the flower pot in your (parents’) backyard? Nothing. Hence the inspiration for this tortellini pesto pasta salad made entirely with basil that my dad has spent the summer nurturing (especially since his zucchini plants turned out to be cucumber plants, which for some reason he felt warranted far less of his time and affection).

I am submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights (hosted this week by Rachel of The Crispy Cook), No Croutons Required (hosted this month by Lisa of Lisa’s Kitchen) AND Souper Sundays, hosted weekly over at Kahakai Kitchen.
Tortellini Pesto Pasta Salad
Serves 8

2 lb tortellini
8 stalks worth of basil cut from the garden
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Set up the water for the tortellini and cook as per package instructions. Make sure to reserve at least a cup of pasta water.

2. In a food processor, combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic, and parmesan cheese. Add olive oil. Process. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Mix the pesto with the drained pasta. Add the pasta water until the sauce can be evenly distributed among the pasta and until the dish is moist enough for your taste. Serve.

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at https://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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23 Responses to Tortellini Pesto Pasta Salad

  1. Rachel says:

    Wish I could find some gluten-free tortellini to make this pasta salad tonight, as I still have some basil growing. Maybe with small shells?

    Thanks for sending this over to Pasta Presto Nights!

  2. Kim says:

    Oh my – LOL! I think I play the what if game almost every night! I love the pesto tortellini salad. That is a great recipe for your lunchbox and at home.

  3. Mari says:

    You had me at Tortellini! lol…that looks divine

  4. Palidor says:

    Wow, you did a lot of research for this dish! I think you did a great job. It looks really tasty.

  5. Amy says:

    Joanne, you’re so funny. Always lovin’ the pesto.

  6. Pesto is one of my favorite things in the world! I love this with tortellini!

  7. girlichef says:

    Great multi-tasking, lady! LOL…thanks for the awesome info and for making my belly growl just before beddy-bye. Sounds yummy 😀

  8. Debinhawaii says:

    Very funny! Thanks for the lesson–now I don’t have to look it up. Your pasta salad looks great, thanks for sending it along to Souper Sundays–I’ll add it to this week’s round-up.

  9. Yum, looks delish!
    I sympathize with your dad. I planted lots of hot chilies, but many are clearly some sort of sweet peppers. They are getting big, but as I don’t know what varieties they are.. I don’t know when they are mature!

  10. Elra says:

    This is exactly how I make my pesto, same ingredients, same process. Simple and delicious.

  11. biz319 says:

    That looks delicious! I just recently discovered pesto and I LOVE it!

  12. Hillary says:

    I was super impressed with this entry on Presto Pasta Nights. Looks so good!

  13. Mmmm, pesto! It goes with everything.

  14. Lele says:

    Mmmmm tortellini and pesto are for sure some of the best the Mediterranean has to offer.

  15. Kerstin says:

    Homemade pesto is the best, this looks SO good!

  16. Donna-FFW says:

    Can I just tell you how absolutely terrific this looks, and those chickpeas below, I am so bookmarking that immediatley. I alost missed all this good stuff.. no more hiatuses.. for me.

  17. Sophia says:

    lol, LOVE that you did all the research for us. This looks SO good. Seriously, every time I come to your blog, I REALLY crave pasta. You’re making me into a pasta-holic!

  18. Elizabeth says:

    I’m making tortellini with pesto this week! I think it’s one of the most perfect combinations, don’t you?

  19. So Simple says:

    Enjoyed the research and the recipe Joanne.
    Food looks great. Cheers

  20. GarlicBOSS says:

    Joanne, fresh pesto is great, and I like how you used the pasta water…thanks

  21. Kevin says:

    Nice pasta salad! I made something similar recently and I mixed mayo into the pesto for some added creaminess and a bit of tang. That would probably not be very Mediterranean though.

  22. Yummy! Absolutely irresistible. thanx for sharing this pesto and pasta recipe 🙂

  23. Kristin says:

    This looks devine!! I have basil that I am looking to use, so this is going to be it! Thanks for the help!

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