This Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad is loaded with all of your favorite Greek salad toppings…and it’s perfect for summer picnics!
Back before I started writing Spiced, I taught high school Latin for a couple of years. I truly love the language, and I do miss teaching. But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about the part-time job I had coordinating cooking classes for a local kitchenware store. By day, a Latin teacher. By night, a cooking class coordinator. It was a fun gig for a while, and I got to meet a lot of chefs from local restaurants.
But one day on a whim I reached out to Suvir Saran, a very accomplished chef who was the executive chef at the first Indian restaurant in the States to earn a Michelin Star. (If his name sounds familiar, he competed on Top Chef: Masters back in 2011.) Well, it just so happens that Suvir lives on a farm in upstate New York not too far away from where we live. I figured getting him to teach a class would be a longshot, but it was worth a shot, right? So you can imagine my surprise when Suvir agreed to teach 2 classes on Indian cooking!
Those 2 classes came with a small catch, however. He asked me to prep all of his ingredients so that he could spend the time in class talking with the students. That’s cool. I didn’t mind. After all, the chance to work with an internationally acclaimed chef doesn’t come around all that often! But then I realized exactly how much prep work Indian cooking entails…especially when you are cooking for 25 people. (Oh, and we had 4 different dishes on the menu that night.) I had bowls of chopped herbs and containers of exact measurements of spices lined up all over the place. I even employed my wife’s assistance the night before his classes to help measure and prep anything that could be done in advance.
But all of the chopping, dicing, mincing and measuring paid off. Suvir was an incredible teacher, and his food was nothing short of delicious. It was obvious why his restaurant down in NYC earned such high acclaim.
During the class, I sorta became Suvir’s sous chef. He needed someone to watch a pot while he got to work on another dish. At one point, he asked me to taste one of his dishes and tell him what was missing. That’s all fine and good…until you realize that I didn’t grow up eating Indian food. My wife knows Indian food, but not me. I almost died when he asked me to taste his cooking and critique it…in front of a class of 25 students. I looked at my wife (who was in the class), and she just started laughing at me. But it all worked out. Turns out his dish was perfectly seasoned. Phew.
I have great respect for Suvir not only because of his accomplishments in the kitchen, but also because he followed his passion and made a career out of it. He studied visual arts in both India and the United States, but he left that world to follow his passion for cooking. My personal background is in higher education administration and specifically college athletics. As much as I love the strategy involved in the world of higher education, I love cooking and baking more.
It took a lot of debate and soul-searching (and a bit of a leap of faith), but that’s how I started Spiced. And I don’t regret it one bit! I’ve met (both virtually and in-person) so many incredible people so far, and I can’t wait to see where this little corner of the internet eventually leads.
But enough of that sappy stuff. Let’s talk about food. More specifically, let’s talk about delicious food. Like this Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad. We love eating outdoors in the summer, and tasty pasta salads are a staple in our refrigerator throughout these warmer months. For this salad, I was inspired by the classic Greek salad (one of my favorites). Instead of lettuce, I used tortellini and then added all of the tasty toppings that we typically find in a Greek salad. Cucumber, olives, tomatoes, feta. I’m pretty sure an antipasti platter loaded with those toppings could qualify as a meal! I also added some marinated artichokes, broccoli and red bell pepper just because.
This Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad is one of those delicious summer pasta salads where you don’t know what part to eat first. Do you just go all in and get a fork full of everything, or do you go through and pick out each delicious bite individually? So here’s to grilling on the back porch, delicious summer side dishes and following your passion!
What’s your favorite part of a Greek salad?