A word to the wise when preparing a picnic or any bagged lunch: prepare something that will only get better the longer you wait to eat it. We've all had to suffer through soggy sandwiches, so give yourself a rest and try something that will only taste better over time as the flavors blend: Tortellini Salad.
You will need:
- 1 (16 ounce) package refrigerated cheese tortellini
- 4 ounces sliced pepperoni, quartered
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, diced
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning
- salt and black pepper to taste
Don’t be intimidated by the amount of ingredients; this whole process shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes. The hardest part is chopping the pepperoni, cheese, and onions, which can be done while the tortellini cooks. Simply cook the tortellini until it is at your desired texture and mix it together with the chopped ingredients. Then, mix the oil, vinegar, S&P, and herb seasoning together in a separate bowl and pour over the tortellini mixture. This salad is best when chilled for a few hours, so fix it and forget about it.
Tip: Add black olives and artichoke hearts for extra heartiness and flavor.
Now, onto the main course: the Mozzarella and Red Pepper Sandwich. To make two or three sandwiches, you will need:
- 1 loaf of good bread (an Italian baguette or semolina works very well)
- 1 package of mozzarella cheese
- 1 jar of roasted red peppers
- oil and balsamic vinegar to taste
Normally you would cut the bread like a hoagie and spread the oil and vinegar over the top and bottom pieces, but since this will make the bread soggy over time, just bring the oil and vinegar with you. To keep the bread firm, spread the dressing on the loaf right before you eat.
Next, slice the mozzarella and roasted red peppers thin enough to lie down on the bread. The peppers can be bought pre-sliced, though they don’t have to be. Wrap it up and try to keep yourself from eating it on the way to the picnic.
Tip: For a spicy kick, add prosciutto and sopressata, which make for a sandwich known as the "pinicchio". Don’t want meat? Try adding grilled portabella mushrooms for texture and taste.
When the time comes, grab your food from the fridge and throw it in a bag. If you are going to wait more than an hour or two before you feast, store your meal in a cooler. Enjoy!