A new gourmet olive oil shop opened in town, and I had two sweet students bring me bottles of balsamic vinegar and olive oil at the end of the school year. The olive oil is that really good kind that tastes good all by itself with crusty bread dipped in it, which was my main plan until we needed a side dish for TheRoomDad’s latest grilling adventures. I whipped together an easy tortellini pasta salad that is delicious and summery and excellent with steak.
1 family sized package cheese tortellini (~1 lb)
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 handful baby arugula
1/2 c. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, shredded (or to taste)
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add a little drizzle of olive oil to the pasta and toss gently to keep the tortellini from sticking together and let cool slightly.
In a separate dish, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, kosher salt, and pepper.
In the bowl with the tortellini, add crumbled bacon, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and dressing. Toss well until the tortellini is coated with dressing. The arugula will wilt slightly.
Sprinkle Parmesan on top before serving.
Serve at room temperature.
I have not officially tested this, but I think the pasta salad would travel well to tailgates and potlucks and could be refrigerated.
TheRoomMomMom used to make something called The Posh Nosh Sandwich; I always referred to it as The Big Sandwich. My mom would serve it when we had friends over to swim, and everyone was starving. My mom would make it for a tailgate event and warm bricks in the oven and wrap the sandwich in foil with the warmed bricks underneath until it was time to serve. Any time people needed hearty party food, The Big Sandwich was there.
I have made The Big Sandwich when we are with friends sharing a house for the weekend and needed “man food” for the group. Last night, I made The Big Sandwich for an adult backyard birthday party. It serves a crowd, covers the melted cheese criteria for yummy party food, and is easy to assemble. It can be messy to eat, so serve with lots of napkins.
1/4 to 1/2 lb. thinly sliced turkey
1/4 to 1/2 lb. thinly sliced ham
1/4 to 1/2 lb. thinly sliced roast beef
1/4 lb. thinly sliced Genoa salami (can use hard salami)
thinly sliced Swiss cheese (8-10 slices)
thinly sliced red onion rings
Marie’s Thousand Island dressing
1 loaf of Italian bread, unsliced
Cut the loaf of Italian bread in half horizontally, so the bread is divided into a top and bottom. Scoop some of the squishy bread center out from both sides, so you have a little extra space for sandwich fillings inside the bread.
Put a layer of Swiss cheese in the top and bottom pieces of the bread. I use ~4 slices on each side.
Spread a layer of Thousand Island dressing on the cheese slices on both sides.
On the bottom piece of bread, layer each type of meat. I like about 4 slices of each kind of meat, but you can use more or less depending on your taste.
After the last meat slices are added, sprinkle a layer of red onion on the bread “lid”.
Place the bread “lid” on the top of the sandwich to close and wrap completely in foil.
Bake at 350 degrees for ~45 minutes until melty and toasty.
Remove from the oven, unwrap from the foil, and slice with a serrated knife into 2-inch wide wedges immediately. The meat has a tendency to slip off the bread when the cheese is really melty, so you have to cut carefully.
I get the meat sliced fresh at my grocery store deli. I ask for “very thinly sliced” and like it to be just a little thicker than shaved.
You can spread the Thousand Island dressing on the top and bottom pieces of bread before adding the cheese slices. I like to put the cheese slices down first if I am assembling several hours before baking, so there is a protective layer between the bread and the dressing to keep the dressing from soaking into the bread too much.