It’s one of my favorite times of the year… the time when it’s almost summer, but not too hot to be outside all the time. Backyard get togethers are more frequent and deck sitting is once again a daily activity. We rush to get outside just so we can slow down and enjoy the sun.
Since we’ve been spending more time outside lately, I have found myself drawn to recipes that are served cold and require less time in the kitchen. The issue I’ve run into in the past is that although a recipe can be considered “easy-to-make,” the prep can be a little time consuming. If a recipe requires a lot of whisking, I grab my whisk and get to work. If a recipe calls for a lot of chopping, I grab my chef’s knife and my cutting board (and some bandaids, just in case). That’s just how I’ve always done it until this year.
In January, we simplified our kitchen with my new favorite machine, the Vitamix A3500. It replaced three of our larger kitchen gadgets that we no longer needed: our regular blender, our food processor and our immersion blender. I’ve shared several dairy-free soups that have come together really quickly and tasted so velvety smooth using the Vitamix. Now, I’m excited to share this chilled Summer Tortellini Salad full of chunky bell peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes mixed with a delicious Italian dressing. It’s a perfect recipe for those warm days spent outside hanging with friends and family.
The recipe calls for chopping the bell peppers, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes and the Vitamix made this process very easy and quick, no bandaids needed. I used variable speed 3-4 for the tomatoes to get a finer chop and blended them on their own first. Mike typically avoids chunks of tomatoes, so I figured the finer the tomatoes were, the less he’d notice and pick them out. To compromise, I cut a couple of tomatoes in half for garnish for myself. Then, I added the bell peppers and cucumbers in strips using variable speed 1-2 for a more chunky, diced chop. This approach allowed me to get a couple of different chops in the same blend. The only thing that took more than a couple of minutes was waiting for the water to boil to cook the tortellini. I recommend relaxing and sipping your favorite summer drink during this time.
The final touch for the pasta salad is an easy Homemade Italian Dressing. At first I thought it wouldn’t be necessary to use the Vitamix since whisking a few ingredients in a bowl isn’t that hard to do. But, everything blended together quickly and in the end, it was less work for me. Work smarter, not harder, right?
What are some of your favorite summer recipes?
Disclosure: Thank you to Vitamix for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you to my readers for supporting the brands that keep Up Close & Tasty cooking and shooting.
Summer Tortellini Salad
1 package of cheese tortellini
1 package of tomato mozzarella tortellini
1 large green bell pepper, roughly cut into long strips
1 large red bell pepper, roughly cut into long strips
1/2 medium cucumber, roughly cut into long strips
1 cup cherry tomatoes
Parsley, roughly chopped
Green onions, roughly chopped
Salt & peper, to taste
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook tortellini according to instructions.
2. Drain tortellini and briefly run under cold water.
3. Place tortellini in a bowl and set aside.
4. Using your Vitamix, be sure the lid is on securely with the lid plug removed.
5. Start your machine on variable speed 1 or 2.
6. Drop the bell pepper strips, cucumber strips and tomatoes in through the lid plug one or two at a time.
Note: For a chunkier chop, use a slower variable speed and blend for a short period of time. For a finer chop, use a faster variable speed and blend for a little longer.
7. Strain the peppers, cucumber and tomatoes to remove the excess juice.
8. Gently mix the chopped peppers, cucumber and tomatoes with the tortellini.
9. Season lightly with salt & pepper.
10. Drizzle Homemade Italian Dressing over the pasta salad, to taste.
11. Garnish with fresh parsley and chopped green onions.
12. Serve chilled.
Homemade Italian Dressing
¾ cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Combine all the ingredients in a Vitamix.
2. Blend on Variable speed 2 or 3 until well combined.
3. Pour dressing into a mason jar and store in fridge.
4. Dressing can be stored for up to one week.
5. Shake before pouring.
All images ©Regan Baroni 2017.