I honestly don’t have the patience for canning. Nor do I pay much attention to other methods of preserving (unless you’re talking about sanity.) For my money, the canned tomatoes in the supermarket are perfectly acceptable, and if I want a pickle, I’d rather just eat one out of a jar from the store. But basil is the one exception to my no-preserving rule.
One of summer’s most aromatic and vibrant herbs, basil is worth stocking up on now. This morning, $2 bought a giant bunch, so I got several. Pesto was on my mind as I stood in line at the farmer’s market. I’ll often triple or even quadruple this pesto recipe so I have plenty leftover for other dishes besides pasta. Last week, I tossed brown rice with pesto, peas, and leftover chicken. Another night, quinoa was my grain of choice for another pesto main course.
For this tortellini dish, I like to use a variety of fresh and frozen vegetables. Don’t be afraid to use all frozen ones, though—and to add some shrimp or chicken. The star here is really the basil, at its best (and cheapest) right about now.
Veggie Tortellini with Pesto
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, no stems, washed and dried
- ½ cup plus 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 large, fresh garlic cloves, peeled
- 1½ tsp kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp walnuts
- 2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 package (around 13 oz) frozen cheese tortellini
- ½ cup frozen peas
- ½ cup chopped summer squash
- ½ cup chopped zucchini
- 2 cups arugula, radicchio or baby greens for garnish
Make the pesto first. In work bowl of food processor, combine basil, all except 1 Tbsp olive oil, garlic, 1 tsp salt, and walnuts. Process until mixture is pureed. Scrape into a bowl and stir in the Parmesan. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in large pot of boiling water, cook the tortellini for 2 minutes. Add peas to water. Cook another 3 to 4 minutes, or until peas and tortellini are done. Drain.
In small sauté pan, heat remaining 1 Tbsp oil for 30 seconds. Add summer squash and zucchini. Saute for 2 minutes. Add ½ tsp salt.
In large bowl, toss tortellini, peas, summer squash, and zucchini with as much pesto as you like. This recipe for pesto makes nearly ¾ cup (depending upon how you measure the basil) so you may not need to use it all. Pesto freezes very well. Taste and add extra salt and Parmesan, if desired. Top with greens of your choice.