Laptop Lunches #23

Poached pear with some of the poaching syrup, half a nectarine, carrot sticks and yogurt-ranch dip, and pesto-tortellini salad.

I had bought a bunch of basil for a salad I'll be making later in the week (look for it tomorrow or the next day), and knew I had way too much for that, so I attempted to re-create a salad from a little cafe in my hometown that I always loved. I think I did a passable job of it. It was good for dinner last night and for lunch today. I added some tomatoes for color and variety for the lunch version. This salad is easy to customize to your tastes, but here's what I did (not having any pine nuts or walnuts on hand):

Pesto-tortellini salad (about 3-4 servings)

10 oz. fresh tri-color tortellini
1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
2 garlic cloves
About 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup light mayo
1/2 to 3/4 cup diced cooked turkey breast (chicken is more typical, but I had the turkey)
Shredded parmesan (for garnish)
Cherry tomatoes (for garnish)

Cook tortellini in salted water according to package directions; drain. Meanwhile, with an immersion blender, chop basil, garlic, and salt until fine. (You may have to turn it off and loosen things up with a rubber spatula once or twice.) While continuing to blend, add oil in a thin stream until all is added and blend until a thick paste. Add grated parmesan and blend again until incorporated, just a few pulses. Toss tortellini gently with pesto and mayo, then mix in turkey breast chunks. Refrigerate.

Just before serving (or when packing for the day), add a few cherry tomatoes, quartered, and a sprinkling of shredded parmesan cheese.


Today's lesson: I love poached pears. I'm not a big fan of raw or canned pears, but a fresh pear poached in a light sugar syrup with a splash of balsamic vinegar is ambrosia to me. Half number one, I had warm last night with a bit of whipped cream, and refrigerated half number two for lunch today. They're good either way and super easy. (I modified the Joy of Cooking instructions to suit the poaching of a single pear cut in half.) I would recommend doing it the night before, though, because although they don't need too much tending, it can take 20 minutes to poach a pear.


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