Contributed by Olivia Rose
Everybody loves a really good and hearty bowl of pasta. I always feel that there is something special in this seemingly common dish that brings comfort to the tired and hungry. After a long and really stressful day, I’d be glad to come home to find a pot of piping pot of pasta waiting for me.
One of my favorite pasta is tortellini. These are thin sheets of pasta, filled with my favorite, creamy cheese and spinach filling that’s rolled and cooked to perfection. I usually top it with my homemade marinara sauce, but once in a while, I like to spice it up and turn it into a warm salad with grilled vegetables. Slicing the vegetables can also be done using a portable meat slicer before you cook them. It definitely helps if you have a reliable pellet grill where you can roast or grill your choice of veggies.
Best Qualities of a Good Pasta
Sure, you can always make your own tortellini or any type of pasta at home. But if you don’t have the time, there is nothing wrong in buying pre-made ones from the supermarket. We just need to make sure that we know what we are looking for. Here are some pointers when buying the best type of dried pasta:
- Check the ingredients – just like any other type of food that we buy pre-made, we need to make sure that there are no preservatives in there. For a good type of pasta, there should only be durum semolina wheat, all natural enriching ingredients, and nothing else. Any ingredient that you can’t even pronounce may mean that the pasta has a lot of preservatives that your body won’t appreciate.
- Appearance and the texture – when you look at the package of pasta, make sure that every piece has a cream color all throughout. The color should be consistent, and the texture a little rough. Those that don’t have that uniform color and texture are either poorly made or made with low-quality ingredients.
- Clean breaks – dried pasta, when made right breaks cleanly without producing a lot of crumbs or shards.
- Aroma and Taste – Raw, dried pasta should smell a little sweet with a hint of wheat, however, when cooked, a good quality pasta will not have any mineral or chemical-like odor. It should smell like homemade pasta.
Cheesy Tortellini with Roasted Vegetables
This warm “salad” is as hearty and tasty as it looks. The great thing about it is that we do less cooking and more grilling, which I really enjoy doing. The char marks from the grill will add more flavor and will give this dish a really rustic feel.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Recipe Type: vegetarian, High Carb-Low Fat Diet, low sugar, high protein, low cholesterol
For the Pasta and Vegetables
- 1 pack of sweet red bell peppers, seeded and cut into chunks
- 3 pieces of medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise in half
- 6 asparagus spears, trimmed
- 1 cup of baby spinach, rinsed and drained
- 1 batch or about 20 ounces of pre-made spinach and cheese tortellini
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to season
For the Vinaigrette
- ½ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup of good quality olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 small shallot, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
- Salt and ground pepper to season
- Preheat your grill to about 350 degrees ºF.
- Cook your pasta in boiling water until soft and completely cooked. Remove from the heat. And place in a bowl.
- Season the zucchini, peppers and asparagus with a bit of salt and pepper. Place on the grates and grill for about 5 minutes on each side.
- Make your vinaigrette by combining all the ingredients together in a blender or using a whisk.
- Chop the cooked veggies into bite-sized pieces and add to the cooked pasta, together with the spinach. Drizzle the vinaigrette over and mix again.
- Serve with grated Parmesan cheese on top.
- We love using whole grain Dijon mustard for its really intense flavors, but feel free to use any type of mustard that you have available in your pantry.
- If you do not want to use baby spinach, you can use basil leaves instead.
- You can make your own tortellini or buy the packaged ones from your local grocery. If you will be using a packaged batch, cook the pasta according to package directions.
About the Author:
Olivia Rose blogs at My King Cook where she shares healthy cooking and culinary advice with the world! She keeps learning new things, unique cooking traditions and food culture for the benefit of those who want to stay healthy and well with great food. Healthy cooking need not break the bank and eat much time. Check out MyKingCook.com for the latest recipes, cooking tips and kitchenware reviews today!