Okay, so I know it’s a bit late for Meatless Monday, but a) better late than never and b) you can get started early for next week!! So, next Meatless Monday, why don’t you make:
Creamy Roasted Tomato Tortellini Salad
The inspiration for this dish came from Whole Foods. For about a month, they had this salad in their cold case. Then, it was gone.
According to their “manager” they switch their menus every six months. Queries as to when they might get the pasta salad back were met with apologetic shrugs. Passionate entreaties to make a special batch were similarly warded off with kindly shakes of the head. Threats to hold my breath until I passed out were met by threats to call security.
So, I resorted to doing the only thing I could. I figured how to make it myself!
And none too soon. I was trying to figure out what to bring to a friend’s potluck and having a certain reputation to uphold, I had to bring something good. Knowing that I could keep the salad indoors on ice, I decided it was time to figure out how to make this dish. The results were nothing short of spectacular.
Making Creamy Roasted Tomato Pasta Salad
This pasta salad requires just a little bit of work, but I promise you it’s worth it. There are basically four steps to making it: make the tomatoes, make the creamy sauce, boil the pasta, mix.
You will need:
- 4 Tomatoes
- 5 tablespoons garlic powder (divided)
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- (optional) 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 1/2 packages tortellini
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out their seeds. If the tomatoes are still watery, gently squeeze out some of the juice. Arrange the tomatoes on a cookie sheet cut side up and sprinkle salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, and the dried basil over the tomatoes.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes start to shrivel. Let them cool for a few minutes and then put the tomatoes in the food processor. Blend until they are smooth and set aside.
Now, let’s make the Parmesan bechamel. In a sauce pan or high sided skillet, melt the butter, then stir in the flour (you just made a roux and it will help thicken the sauce.) Cook the roux for about 30 seconds and then pour in the heavy cream. Once it just starts to boil, stir in the Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons of garlic powder, and the optional white pepper. Continue stirring until the cheese is fully melted.
Now, the sauce is almost done, but you have to taste it. I have every reason to believe that you are going to have to add some additional salt because I did. However, if you have really salty cheese, you may not need to. Either way, give it a quick taste. If it needs salt, add it a 1/2 tablespoon at a time until you like the sauce.
Pour in half of the tomato sauce into the bechamel and stir. If the sauce is not pink, keep adding in the tomato sauce a little at a time.
If you are going to serve this as a main course, set the heat to low and keep the sauce warm. If you are going to turn the dish into a side, let the bechamel cool.
Finally, boil the pasta in water that has been well salted and blessed by the final 2 tablespoons of garlic powder. Cook the tortellini until it is just al dente (so it’s firm and feels slightly undercooked.) Usually for prepared pastas, this will take 3-5 minutes.
Toss the pasta in the sauce and top with more shredded parmesan and fresh basil. Grab a fork, fight off the family who will be fishing for a sample, and enjoy!