Welcome to the Dog Days of Summer. It’s ridiculously hot, and it is only June in North Florida. So, what do we do? We suffer through the heat and humidity. We complain but, we celebrate summer time, which for many is the best season. Our summer table changes drastically too, to reflect the heat of the sun, and the long days. We focus more on salads and abundant summer fruits, and do our best to keep the summer heat outdoors and not in our kitchens.
One of the “go to” meals on a summer evening at my house is this delicious easy to make pasta salad that receives its vibrant colors from blended fresh herbs. You can use sour cream in this recipe but, I used greek yogurt for the creamy texture. This tastes as fresh as it looks. This pasta salad comes together easy, and is great as the main meal, a side dish, or fantastic for pot luck.
Green Goddess Pasta Salad
Recipe from Melissa Clark
Fine sea salt, as needed
2 (9-10-ounce) packages cheese tortellini
1 fennel bulb with fronds, tough outer layers removed (see note)
1 cup sour cream or plain full-fat Greek yogurt
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped chives
2 tablespoons parsley leaves
2 garlic cloves, peeled
3 scallions, white and green parts
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2/3 cup sliced sugar-snap peas
1 cup baby arugula
In a pot of heavily salted water, cook the tortellini according to the package directions.
Make the dressing: While the water comes to a boil, chop enough of the fennel fronds to equal 1/4 cup. Put the fronds in a blender. Thinly slice enough of the fennel bulb for 3/4 cup, and set it aside. (Reserve any remaining fennel for another use.)
Add sour cream, or greek yogurt, basil, chives, parsley, garlic, 1 scallion, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper to the blender with the fronds and purée until smooth. With the blender running, slowly drizzle in olive oil. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice, or both, if needed.
As soon as the tortellini is done, drain it well and put it in a large mixing bowl. Immediately, while it’s still hot, toss enough of the dressing to coat. Let pasta cool in the dressing, at least 20 minutes and up to 4 hours.
Thinly slice remaining 2 scallions and add to bowl with tortellini. Toss in sliced fennel and sugar snap peas. Drizzle with more dressing, tossing if needed.
To serve, transfer to a serving bowl, gently toss in arugula, drizzle with more olive oil and grind more black pepper.
Note: If your fennel doesn’t have its fronds, use 1/4 cup packed fresh dill instead.