Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Cannellini-Tortellini


Most of the time, I love to make dinner. Come 4:30 in the afternoon, you can find me in the kitchen. I've got my apron on and the radio cranked up, usually tuned to either a "mix" music station or All Things Considered on NPR, depending on my mood and how noisy the children are being (music is easier to listen to than talk-radio when there are yowling children nearby). So it's usually a pleasant time for me, and when I'm on my game, I've got dinners planned a week at a time - ingredients purchased, meat defrosted in time to cook it, sometimes I even have vegetables ready-chopped if I've really been planning ahead. But it doesn't always happen this way. And I don't always adore cooking. Sometimes I get in a rut, or I just don't feel like going to much effort. I'm not ashamed to tell you this; I've been cooking family meals since I was twelve years old and it's hard to keep the magic going sometimes. Well, a lot of times - let's be real here. Anyway. I still have to do it, even when I don't relish the prospect, and that's when I start inventing recipes. This one turned out really well, and it was made entirely with items I already had in my fridge and pantry. It's kind of a pasta dish, kind of a pasta salad. The family gobbled it up and asked for it again. Not bad for something I came up with on the fly after dragging myself into the kitchen to prepare yet another meal.


Cannellini-Tortellini

1 12-oz bag of dry cheese tortellini pasta (or fresh if you prefer)
1 15-oz can of cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained and rinsed
Approx. 3-4 ounces of prepared pesto (I used the leftover half of a 7-oz jar)
1 small can of sliced black olives, drained (or use any kind of olives you like, whole or sliced)
2 small tomatoes, seeded* and diced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

*Do you know how to seed a tomato? It's easy, and it's a good idea if you're adding chopped fresh tomato to a pasta dish because it removes some of the liquid from the tomatoes, which may make the finished dish too watery. Just slice the tomato in half and squeeze each half gently over the drain or trash can until the wet, seeded parts begin to fall out of the tomato. You may have to detach it with your fingers or a small knife. Once the seeds are out, you have just the thick, outer shell of the tomato and this is easily diced with a sharp knife.

Boil the tortellini according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water, set aside.

In a large bowl, combine beans, olives, chopped tomatoes and pesto. Gradually stir in the cooled tortellini until it's coated with pesto. I added about a tablespoon of olive oil as I stirred, just to help with the coating process. Add salt and pepper if desired.


And that's it. It's so simple and I was very impressed with my ingenuity. I started thinking of other things to add: any kind of cooked meat or even cold-cuts - salami, perhaps. Or small bites of cheese. Or a can of drained, flaked tuna fish. Or more vegetables - cooked broccoli or cauliflower, even spinach leaves. I don't think you can go wrong. It was cheap and easy to make and there was a huge amount of it - enough for dinner for the four of us, plus leftovers for lunch the next day, when it tasted even better. I didn't know what to call it, so I've given it the most literal of names: Cannellini-Tortellini. The kids thought it was funny. If I can fill their bellies and make them laugh, then my work is done.

37 comments:

  1. It looks wonderful, I love meals like that! There has been many a time a jar of Sun Dried Tomato pesto has saved me from ordering a takeaway. I really should meal plan more often.

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  2. Hello Jennifer,

    This looks totally delicious. Such a pity that one cannot scratch and sniff the screen!

    The colours all look so appetising and it is surely very healthy, a perfect dish. We try to avoid being in the kitchen at all but this might tempt us back.......

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  3. It's easy to get in a cooking rut. I often find myself in one after holidays, when I have been cooking massive amounts of food to feed a crowd (that crowd would be my family!). I love baking, but cooking I mostly do to survive. I often tell my husband it's a good thing I like to eat good food or he would be facing Kraft macaroni and cheese every night. :-)

    You are brave to make up your own recipe like this. I have never been great at doing that. It looks delicious!

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  4. Ah, Jen, can I hire you? Can you come over and cook tonight, for us? 4.30 is when I hit a real energy slump and cannot be arsed to cook anything. It doesn't help that my two are super finicky at the moment. But I do love the fact that, with pasta, I can chuck in lots of stuff, stir it together and call it a meal. Even if it's only me who wants to eat it.

    This looks yummy. I think tuna would be an excellent addition too - tuna and olives are such a great combination. Tonight I am planning pasta (penne or fusilli) with chorizo and cannellini beans and veg of some description, which the kids will probably refuse to eat... Hey ho. xx

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  5. It looks delicious, as you say, you could add other things, or substitute others. It's great that the kids enjoyed it, definitely one to add to the repertoire.

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  6. That does look good... deffo one my bunch of pasta monsters would like! When can we call by?

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  7. Ooh, yes please ;) It looks delish Jennifer :)

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  8. It's a great idea Jennifer, I'm definitely making a note. And my middle boy would love it with tuna in. I've been making dinner since age 13 too, and I know exactly what you mean about liking it most of the time - I'm in the kitchen with the radio on too most afternoons after school, but also I understand that sometimes it is just a bit of a chore. I often reach for pasta on those days too. CJ xx

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  9. I think it's fun to invent meals, and pasta is a good base. This looks really tasty, and I'm sure the kids gobbled it up! Wendy x

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  10. I love the name. You could always ring the changes by calling it Tortellini-Cannellini next time!! Today I made all from the freezer chilli, everything, vegetables, meat, chilli, garlic was all frozen and just put in a pot, add a tin of beans and a box of tomatoes and hey presto! It is great when you can make something from what you have isn't it especially when you don't feel in the mood to cook. Even better when you have leftovers! Happy dinners! xx

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  11. Delicious! We eat tonnes of pasta in our house. The kids love it so it is always a fail safe option for us. Will definitely give this a try, thanks for sharing xo

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  12. It looks really good, and like something we would like. Thanks!

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  13. I'm pregnant and now hungry! ;) It looks delicious Jennifer.

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  14. It's hard to come up with different meals to put on the table every night. Sometimes we have to get creative. It looks delicious. Two thumbs up!
    xx Beca

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  15. Oh my goodness - that looks positively delicious! And the tip about seeding a tomato is genius!

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  16. It's so neat to create something yourself and to have kids like it, bravo! I'll have to try something like that someday. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  17. Great idea Jennifer, it looks fun and very nutritious too. :)

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  18. Looks a great supper. I think we all feel that we can't be bothered to cook sometimes. I find I get bored with cooking food night after night, with only limited time. But it's reassuring to know it's the same for most of us. X

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  19. I love this kind of meal and yours sounds very tasty. I often cook a throw-it-all-in kind of meal and like you always pleased with the results. Lovely post Jennifer.

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  20. This is a great take on a dish I know as pasta e fagioli (past and beans) from my childhood. I haven't cooked it in 20 years. I like the idea of stuffed pasta, this adds a bit of extra excitement. Unfortunately my husband doesn't like pasta much and I don't cook it is much as I would like to. Daily cooking is not the most glamorous of chores but you have created a dish your family will remember and your children will cook later in their lives.

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  21. We love pasts dishes, and yours looks especially delicious and colourful! A lovely mix of flavours to enjoy.
    I love the patchwork too:)
    Hope you have a lovely day!
    Helen xox

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  22. mmmm.. that looks yummy! xx

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  23. Looks yummy Jennifer! I often get stuck in the tomato sauce rut when it comes to pasta, this is a good idea that I'll be trying... another I discovered recently is cauliflower alfredo... boiled cauliflower sauted onion and garlic popped in the blended with milk, seasoning and grated parmesan and whizzed until velvety. xxx

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  24. Wonderful storecupboard meal that still feels *special* - much preferred to chicken nuggets! I love recipes like this, because, you are right, even us keen cooks need a break sometimes! Thank you for sharing, I have a busy day next Wednesday so this will probably be our dinner! Chrissie x

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  25. Tha looks delicious, Jennifer and I've bookmarked your post to try it later. I do a similar pasta salad with tomatoes, cucumber, cooked chicken and fusilli with lots of herby dressing and it works every time. :-)

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  26. It looks so yummy! And it's a really nice and light summer dinner. I have to make this soon!

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  27. Well, it looks delicious Jennifer, you did a great job with simple items from the pantry! This is what i miss about working later now, I would love to take control back of the kitchen as it really helps me to unwind. But my husband's hours suit the evening meals better, so he does it now! Booooo! But at the weekends, I take back my place and get cooking! This is something I will have to try, it really looks tasty! :)

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  28. Cooking takes creative energy - and sometimes you just don't have any to spare. This dish looks great - just the thing for a healthy dinner. Thanks for sharing! :)

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  29. MMmmm sounds so easy and very healthy as well as yumm!
    Thx for the idea,
    Jillxx

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  30. I am coming over for leftovers.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  31. It looks delicious Jennifer, and I understand completely that 'I'm over it' feeling when it comes time to cook yet another meal, for after all, the time comes around every single day, seven days a week, four weeks a month - better not go on - and I've been doing it since very young also and you know what age I am now!!! Thankfully, most of the time we really enjoy it, and don't we feel happy when we can produce lovely results such as this rather than having succumbed to an easy fix of takeaway! Well done! Joy xo

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  32. Looks delicious Jennifer and gorgeously colourful....I'm not surprised it went down so well with your little ones! I love your top pic with the pretty patchwork too...x
    Hope you all have a great weekend,
    Susan x

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  33. Looks good! I've been making a cashew butter sesame sauce for wheat pasta with shredded carrots and cabbage. Perfect for weekday lunches. So yummy! Have a good day. Tammy

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  34. Looks delicious Jennifer. It's a big win when everyone eats their meal. I think my two would love this as well :-)

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  35. While I have to avoid gluten and dairy these days, I can imagine your recipe tasting wonderful! Yea for your creativity in the midst of hum and drum :) xx

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Thank you for leaving a comment. It's so good to hear from you! I don't always have time to reply but I try to answer questions when I can.

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