We all have that one recipe that stands out in our minds as special because it was either gifted to us by a grandmother, mother, or friend; or maybe it was something we come up with late one night with a mish-mash of ingredients but it reminds us of a special time.
That was certainly Arcenia Mangaser’s thought process when she agreed to provide you, our dear readers, with this tasty recipe for Tortellini Salad that she learned from a special woman decades ago. As the chef and chief salad maker (plus catering manager!) for Brookside Market and Deli (on Coffee and Hageman), she has her hands full creating the kinds of pasta salads that keep locals raving and coming back for more, but this recipe is special. We think you’ll agree. “The salad speaks for itself,” she said with a chuckle. It is hearty but also flavorful and refreshing, with plenty of locally-grown ingredients (though not the pasta, because we don’t have tortellini trees here).
- 3 lbs. 5-cheese tortellini (fresh is best)
- 2.5 lbs. quartered marinated artichoke hearts
- 1 lb. fresh sliced mushrooms (or 3 lbs. of marinated mushrooms)
- 2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
- 4 c. whole black olives
- 3 red bell peppers, grilled
- 4 c. Italian dressing
- Fresh parsley, chopped
First, start by getting the peppers ready. You want to de-stem and de-seed them, then coat with a bit of olive oil before placing on a baking sheet and broiling in the oven for about 10 minutes until the skin is blistering and blackened. When evenly blackened, remove from oven and, using tongs, place the peppers in a plastic Ziploc bag and seal it. Set aside for about 20 minutes. The steam created inside the bag will help you peel off the skin in a snap. Once peeled, slice thinly, and set aside.
Boil your tortellini using the instructions on the package (make very sure you don’t overcook fresh pasta—no mushy pasta for this recipe). While the water is coming to a boil, chop your garlic, slice your mushrooms, and drain your artichoke hearts and black olives very well. Once the pasta is done, drain well and let cool.
Then cover with your dressing and toss with olives, artichoke hearts, garlic, sliced peppers, and mushrooms. Top with some freshly diced parsley for a pop of color and flavor. Eat right away or refrigerate overnight to let the flavors really meld together. Obviously, this recipe makes a very large portion, so feel free to cut recipe in half or in thirds to make as a side dish for any meal.