Sunday, February 21, 2010

lemon basil tortellini salad

this pasta was a merger of two food experts, italy and greece. tortellini, the great stuffed pasta, hails from italy and is often served with cream sauce or soup. i have always liked tortellini, even by itself, but my love forever deepened when i discovered its comforting properties brought out by a ham and cream sauce on a rainy day in venice. on the other hand, the marinade for the chicken is inspired by a sunny day riding an ATV in santorini, greece, using major greek food ingredients (garlic, oregano, lemon).

how do we put them together? by merging! adding the traditional italian seasoning of basil into the marinade gives the chicken some depth, and sharing some lemony love (and olives) with the pasta brings out tangy flavors alongside the vegetables. and of course, a heaping dose of olive oil, which is adored by both countries.

lemon basil marinade
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2.5 tbsp basil leaves, chopped
1 tsp oregano, chopped
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
juice of one lemon
zest of one lemon

mix ingredients together in a large ziploc bag or plastic tupperware container. shake, and set in the fridge for at least 2 hours before cooking. to cook, drizzle a small amount of olive oil into a skillet on medium heat. cook each chicken breast in the oil for about 7 minutes each side, until lightly brown and fully cooked through. no lie, i threw these things together and this chicken was perfectly delicious!

tortellini salad
1 family size package of 4-cheese tortellini
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup of olives, cut into small slices
3 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp basil, chopped
juice of one lemon

bring a pot of water to boil. add tortellini and cook for about 7 minutes (follow package instructions).

meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat. add garlic, and when the garlic sizzles, add the onion and bell pepper pieces. cook for about 6 minutes. pour veggies and oil into a large bowl, and add the rest of the ingredients. stir well. add the cooked/strained tortellini and the chicken from above (cut into bite sized pieces) if you made it earlier.

with the chicken and veggies, this is enough for 6-7 people. i served it with the fruit and nut salad (see following post!) and easy to make what i call "banilla" cups.

banilla cups (aka banana pudding + vanilla wafers)
no-cook banana pudding mix
heavy whipping cream
mini vanilla wafers

follow the instructions on the pudding box, but instead of using all milk, use half milk and half whipping cream. whisk until it reaches a pudding-like consistency. use small clear plastic cups and layer with wafers and pudding! chill in the fridge until ready to serve. one small box of pudding should make enough for 5-6 servings.

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