Mediterranean Tortellini with Pesto
A quick and easy fuss-free dinner. This vegetarian tortellini is brimming with flavor from pesto, sundried tomatoes, baby spinach and feta cheese. And it couldn’t be easier to make: everything comes together in 20 minutes. <jump to recipe>
When it comes to quick and easy weeknight dinners, pasta is pretty hard to beat. Noodles cook in a handful of minutes, there’s a million-and-one flavor combinations to try, and perhaps best of all: everyone loves pasta. On especially rushed nights, it might be tempting to combine that half-opened box of noodles with the jar of tomato sauce hidden in the depths of your cupboard...but trust us when we tell you that you can make something much more exciting. And better yet: this pumped-up pasta dinner won’t take longer to make.
This dish starts with tortellini, because if there’s one thing that makes pasta even better, it’s stuffing the noodles with cheese. The tortellini is then drizzled with pesto sauce, and tossed with a handful of simple veggies and flavorful add-ins like sundried tomatoes, artichokes and feta cheese. The combination is delicious and totally unfussy. There’s minimal cooking involved, which means that while the water boils, all you need to do is get everything ready to toss into a bowl. Tortellini keeps better than regular pasta noodles, so if you manage to save leftovers for lunch, then you’re in for a treat! And since this dish can be served hot or cold, it’s a hit at potlucks and picnics. In short, this dish won’t let you down, we promise.
At home, we affectionately call this our “pantry pasta”. Why? Because almost all the delicious flavors come from a handful of humble pantry ingredients. A simple at-home hack is to keep jars of sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, capers, and pesto on hand. They do wonders for packing a punch of flavor with very little effort. These jars last almost indefinitely in your pantry, and once opened, still have a long way to go in your fridge. So you can always whip up something delicious, even when your fridge is far from stuffed with fresh veggies and herbs.
As you can imagine, this recipe quite flexible. We use our favorite cheese tortellini - and always have a bag of it stored in the freezer - but feel free to go with the tortellini you like best. It’s hard to beat fresh pesto, so we usually have some stored in the fridge or freezer. If you’ve frozen some, simply let it defrost in the fridge overnight. But if you’re in a pinch, the jarred variety will do just fine! As for the other mix-ins, feel free to adapt it to what you have on hand. Out of spinach? Try kale or arugula. Don’t like olives? Leave them out. Need to use up that zucchini in the bottom of your fridge? Roast it in the oven or give it a quick saute, then toss it in. Whatever you do, just be sure to try this recipe because it’s bound to be a keeper. Pasta, pesto and a whole lot of flavor...what’s not to love?!
MEDITERRANEAN TORTELLINI WITH PESTO
14 oz / 400 g package of cheese tortellini
1/2 cup pesto (fresh preferred, otherwise from jar)
2 cups baby spinach, packed
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup red onion, diced
6 oz / 170 g jar of marinated artichoke hearts, strained and quartered*
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes (packed in oil), strained and sliced
1 tablespoon capers, strained and roughly chopped
Salt & pepper, to taste
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2-3 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook tortellini according to manufacturer’s directions (typically 6-8 minutes). Once cooked, strain well then transfer tortellini to a bowl.
Add pesto then gently toss to combine. Add in baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, red onion, marinated artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes and capers. Stir to mix. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Then add crumbled feta cheese and parsley. Give the pasta one more stir to combine. Serve.
-*A small (6 oz / 170 g) jar should yield approximately 1/2 cup of marinated artichokes after being strained.
-This dish can be served warm or cold. If making this dish in advance with the intention to serve it cold, you can choose to let the tortellini cool slightly before adding the baby spinach. This way the spinach won’t start to wilt from the heat. If enjoying warm, we like when the spinach is ever-so-slightly wilted so proceed with the recipe as directed.