Tortellini with Basil Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, and Mozzarella
This recipe is featured in Mason Jar Salads and More: 50 Layered Lunches to Grab & Go
Every summer I grow basil plants and harvest them to make big batches of pesto. If you don’t have the space to grow your own plants, keep an eye out at farmers’ markets or local stores during the summer, when basil prices are low. This caprese-style salad takes very little time to make and keeps well in the refrigerator, either in layers or mixed together, so you can feel free to make it days in advance. This recipe is perfect for large gatherings; cut the recipe in half for a single serving to bring to the office. This recipe can be eaten warm or cold.
- Servings Makes 2 servings
For the Salad
- 2 cups uncooked fresh cheese tortellini
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (if using a Mason jar)
- 2 tablespoons Basil Pesto
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced red onion
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- ¼ cup halved mozzarella balls
- 1 quart-size Mason jar (optional)
Basil Pesto (4 servings)
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 4 cups tightly packed basil leaves
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
TIP: If you have a lot of basil on your hands, you can make a big batch of pesto and freeze it to use later. Just pour the pesto into an ice cube tray and freeze. Once the pesto is frozen, you can remove it from the ice cube tray and store it in a zip-top plastic bag in the freezer. When you want pesto for your salad, drop frozen pesto into the pasta pot after you’ve drained it and it will quickly defrost.
For the Basil Pesto:
In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and toast, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 3 minutes.
In a blender or food processor, combine the basil, ¼ cup olive oil, cheese, toasted pine nuts, salt, and pepper. Blend until the ingredients come together smoothly.
To create the salad:
Cook the tortellini according to the package directions; drain and transfer to a bowl. If you’re planning to layer your salad in a jar, mix in the olive oil to keep the tortellini from sticking together.
To layer the salad, start with the pesto and then add the onion, tomatoes, mozzarella, and tortellini. Or, simply mix the remaining ingredients with the tortellini in the bowl. Seal the jar or cover the bowl; refrigerate until ready to use.