December 30, 2011

Festive Cheese Tortellini and Basil-Walnut Pesto Dippers

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Entertaining... it's one of my favorite things to do, especially around the holidays. You get to create the mood and ambiance of an evening with friends and family all with decorations, set-ups and the menu to which everyone will be indulging in. Luckily I am not of 'the age' yet where I am given the privilege to host Christmas at my house (rightfully so) as this is reserved for Grandma or the parents house... eldest wins. I don't know if I could handle that kind of menu yet, plus it would be hysterical trying to fit 35+ people in our two bedroom condo. haha.

So instead, I have the pleasure of entertaining one of my best friends growing up, her husband and their 7 mos old pit bull Haze this New Years Eve

So exciting!
One fear I always have when I am entertaining, which I am sure a lot of you have too, is when is all the food going to come out and will it keep warm till it's supposed to be served. If you are talking about larger crowds of people, timing is key and having appetizers not on the table till right before dinner is supposed to come out or a dessert not finished cooking and it's been hours past dinner, you might be stuck right in the middle of my entertaining nightmare.

Well, I will share with you one of the best tip's I ever heard from Ina Garten on Barefoot Contessa, make one or two specialty dishes and then leave one or two dishes to be a pick-up from the grocery store or something you can make a day ahead to free yourself enough time to prepare and serve everything in a timely fashion. For example, if I was making a homemade dip and a baked finger food treat, I would also plan to maybe have a cheese platter that only required opening the cheese wrap or something I had made the day before that would just need to be popped in the oven for a few minutes. Genius. I can sometimes be a little overzealous when I am trying to plan the perfect menus but I have also found that when you are stuck in the kitchen the whole time, you miss out on a lot of the fun and laughs and that is really what it's all about so planning helps to regulate your fun time.
So with that being said I had seen this recipe idea when I was channel surfing one weekend and the idea just stuck with me. One of my minor pet peeves when going to a party {hungry} is that sometimes the appetizers, although delicious, don't really satisfy my hunger to hold me over until dinner, which normally turns into too much "snacking" which results in a stomach ache... and I still haven't even sat down to dinner yet. Well, if you are going to follow the good planning advice, then this dish hits both points in one.  

Pesto sauce can be made up to days in advance, pasta takes less than 10 minutes to cook up and together, it's a fabulous appetizer that can really stick to your stomach and hold you over until that amazing roast comes out of the oven for dinner.
This is an appetizer I knew would be a big hit because the colors of the plate are bold and vibrant and the dish itself is a household favorite. Whether you put the cheese tortellini's on skewers or just leave toothpicks next to the dish for grabbing, I can promise these will go. I brought this appetizer on Christmas eve to my fathers house. The pesto was made and I managed to squeeze in 10 minutes of the stove top and bam... a beautiful appetizer was made.

I am a big pesto lover and pairing with cheese tortellini just sounded like a perfect match. So whether you are home or traveling to friends this New Years, if you are asked to bring a dish to the pot luck party and are short on time or creativity, this is the dish for you. It's quick, beautiful and tastes just right.
Grab a cocktail and enjoy yourself.
Festive Cheese Tortellini and Basil-Walnut Pesto Dippers
Recipe and photos by A Healthy Jalapeño 

1 pkg. frozen cheese filled tortellini
1 tbsp butter
Basil Walnut Pesto (recipe to follow)

Pre-make basil pesto an hour or more ahead of time, put in the refrigerator and let chill until ready to serve. 
Boil a pot of water and cook tortellini according to package instructions. Once cooked, strain the pasta to remove all left over water. Place pasta in a large bowl and mix together with the butter. This will keep the pasta soft and moist.

Finally skewer the pasta onto wooden kebob sticks or simply place the pasta around the basil pesto and put toothpicks along side for easy picking.

Serve immediately. 

Basil-Walnut Pesto {for Cheese Tortellini Dippers}
Recipe adopted by

2 cups packed basil leaves (approx. 2 oz)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp softened butter (optional)
1/2 tsp salt (optional)

Place basil, olive oil, walnuts, garlic and salt (if using) in food processor. Blend until thoroughly combined.
Add Parmesan and butter (if using) and blend 5-10 seconds more. Just before serving, add 2 Tbsp of hot pasta water from cooked pasta.

Serve as center dipping sauce for cheese tortellinis.



Jennifer @ Mother Thyme said...

How festive our these dippers! I love them. I love tortellini and pesto what a great way to serve this. Wishing you a very Happy New Year! :)

RecipeGirl said...

What a fun idea for an appetizer + dip! Love it! Happy New Year!

Laura @ A Healthy Jalapeño said...

Thanks so much ladies! Happy New Years to you both :)

mjskit said...

What a clever idea to "dip" tortellini! Your pesto looks like a fabulous companion to the tortellini, but I bet it would work with other dips as well. This is definitely an idea I can use! Thanks for sharing and have a very Happy New Year!

Shelby said...

I love this - its a first see for me - great new idea for a party!