Cooking with Oonagh - Free Recipe



Tortellini Salad with Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette and Asparagus

Far too many pasta salads are quite bland. You really need an assertive dressing and plenty of vegetables to stand up to so much pasta. You don't need to use the asparagus - substitute a mix of drained, unmarinated sliced artichokes, shredded carrots and/or zucchini and squash, grape tomatoes. Just be generous.

Add some chickpeas or other beans; add cubed deli turkey or ham. Get creative, but stick with the good vinaigrette. I also don't use raw garlic as it stays with one for too long. Use roasted garlic or garlic powder to your taste. Add sliced olives if you want.


  • 1 lb Seviroli frozen, pre-cooked cheese tortellini (cooks up to about 1+1/2 lb) - Costco's
  • 12-16 oz fresh asparagus (weight before trimming)
  • either 2 raw bell peppers, deseeded and cut into small dice
    or 2 roasted red peppers.
Makes about 1+ 1/2 c vinaigrette. Refrigerate remainder.
  • c oil packed Sun dried tomatoes-Bella San Luci brand at Costcos
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • -1/2 tsp salt to your taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 c olive oil, not extra virgin as it's too strong
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar - if you substitute lemon juice, you will need about one lemon juiced - buy good quality brand of balsamic vinegar, there is a huge difference in taste.
  • About 8 large basil leaves (omit if your family won't eat little green things)
  • c fresh parsley (omit same as basil above)


1. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Add tortellini, gently bring back to a boil (this can take 5-10 minutes), turn down to a simmer and gently cook for about 4-5 minutes - but taste test. If you cook the tortellini too fast they will fall apart. Remove from heat, drain and cover with cold water to stop cooking.

2. Put vinaigrette ingredients except for parsley and basil in food processor or blender and run until reasonably smooth but still with some bits. Add herbs and run/pulse to chop. You still want the herbs visible not pureed to a green sauce. I normally taste test a vinaigrette with a piece of lettuce for a better idea of the taste than just on a spoon. Adjust seasoning to your taste.

3. Bring second pan of water to a boil (or re-use pasta pan after tortellini is drained and cooled). Take one piece of asparagus and bend stem. Where it breaks is tender point. Line up rest of asparagus and cut them all at roughly the same point. Discard these ends. Cut stalks into roughly 1 inch pieces and cook in boiling water for about 5 minutes, add tips and cook for about further 3 minutes. But you must taste test both a stalk piece and a tip. Cooking time varies so much. You want it cooked but not flabby. Remove from heat, drain and cover with cold water both to stop cooking and keep asparagus nice and green.

4. Put about cup of vinaigrette in serving bowl and add asparagus and bell pepper. Stir well. Add drained, cooled tortellini. I prefer to serve the salad at room temperature, not straight from the fridge. Add more vinaigrette to your taste.


If your kids won't eat the 'stuff', then just serve the plain tortellini warmed with olive oil and parmesan etc for them and do the vinaigrette and vegetables for the adults. At least you are not cooking two main courses this way.

© 2000-2006 Royal Temptations

Oonagh Williams, proprietor of Royal Temptations, has a Culinary Arts degree, offers Catering services, teaches a variety of classes in International Cooking, makes regular appearances on WMUR ABC Channel 9's Cooks' Corner and has her own series on Merrimack TV and on Manchester TV. You can contact Oonagh at 603-424-6412.
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