Cold pasta salad -- three words that strike fear in the hearts of buffet diners everywhere. No way, not me, can't stand it, they say. I understand. Nobody likes pasta drowning in dressing. So, if you think you'd rather get a root canal than eat pasta salad, I promise you that this recipe will change your mind. The secret? Pour off excess dressing not absorbed by the warm pasta, and add it back in right before you serve. Perfect for picnics and potlucks, this tortellini and shrimp salad makes a hearty main course. Omit the shrimp and add more vegetables for an equally satisfying vegetarian version.
Picnic-perfect tortellini and shrimp salad
Serves 4-6, or more as part of a buffet meal.
20-oz package of mixed-cheese tortellini (fresh, not dried)
1 lb frozen raw shrimp (31-40 size), peeled and deveined (optional)
1/2 red bell pepper, minced, or 1/2 cup chopped tomato
2 Tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley or basil, or some of each
For the dressing:
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp honey, or more to taste
4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
Bring 6 quarts of water to the boil in a stock pot over high heat. While the water is coming to the boil, place the shrimp in a large bowl filled with cold water for 3 minutes. Peel the shrimp and set aside.
Add the bell pepper or tomato, and chopped herbs, to a large mixing bowl.
In a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine all of the dressing ingredients, and shake until the dressing emulsifies (thickens).
When the water boils, add the pasta, and cook for 5 minutes. Then, stir the shrimp into the pasta. Cook for 2 minutes, until the shrimp are pink and curled, and the pasta is cooked. Drain the pot, and run the pasta and shrimp under cold water. Drain well, and add to the mixing bowl.
Pour on a few tablespoons of the dressing, and stir several times. Set aside on the counter, and stir every few minutes. When the pasta absorbs all of the dressing, add a little bit more, and repeat until the pasta doesn't take in any more dressing. Pour off the excess and reserve.
Serve at room temperature. If you want to make this in advance, refrigerate it and bring to room temperature before serving. If you wish, add the reserved dressing right before you serve.
More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Pasta salad with feta, basil, olives, fresh and slow-roasted tomatoes
Spicy Asian grilled chicken and pasta salad
Cold curried orzo
Pasta with roasted tomatoes, artichoke hearts and shrimp (or no shrimp)
Shrimp lo mein
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Pasta salad with tomatoes, zucchini and feta, from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Summer pea and roasted red pepper pasta salad, from Smitten Kitchen
Shrimp and macaroni salad, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Orzo, shrimp and asparagus salad, from My Colombian Recipes
Penne with shrimp and arugula, from The Food in my Beard
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