One thing I love about warm weather is the chance to eat more salads. I love plates filled with different types of lettuce leaves, cherry tomatoes, diced carrots, cucumber and other vegetables. It is fun to experiment with dressings and create different tastes. Salads are so verstalie, they can be a light meal, a side dish or a filling and satisfying meal. It all depends on the ingredients, the weather and the time of day. I have experimented in the past creating a chicken and raspberry salad and my favourite side dish is a tomato vinaigrette salad.
Recently I created a new salad that was a revelation. The chicken and bacon tortelloni salad was a lovely mix of crunchy bacon bits, barbecue chicken, tortelloni pasta, salad leaves and tomatoes served with a ranch dressing. It was bursting with flavour and perfect for lunch on a sunny afternoon. It would also be an ideal side plate for a barbecue on a warm bank holiday Monday.
Toretelloni is a stuffed pasta that usually contains cheese. I had recently been sent some gorgeous fresh pasta sauces and fresh pasta from the Gionvanni Rana range in order to create some recipes. Giovanni Rana is a legendary pasta pasta who is famed for his lovingly made ravioli and tortelloni from Verona. He has just revealed his new range of Simply Italian and Indulgence sauces which are crafted from authentic recipes. Choose from Tomato and Basil, Sun Ripened Tomato and Mascarpone, Pesto, Butter and sage sauces from the Simply Italian range and Porcini Mushroom and Cream or Creamy Carbonara in the Indulgence range. This week I will be showcasing a series of recipes using the sauces. Before I starting using the sauces I had to try the pasta and my salad contains Italian cured ham and cheese Gionvanni Rani tortelloni.
The salad is simple to put together but does require a little bit of cooking and leaving things to cool, so it is best prepared ahead of time. If you are feeling really clever you can make your own ranch dressing but I just used shop bought dressing. The pasta is easy to prepare, just boil a pan of water and drop the pasta in for around three minutes. Drain the water and leave to cool. The pasta is fresh so it is faster to cook and more tasty.
The bacon then needs to be cooked. I used pancetta but you can also use bacon rashers and snip them into small pieces. Fry the bacon gently until it is lovely and crispy and then place on some kitchen roll to absorb the fat and leave to cool. I must admit I cheated with the chicken and bought a pack of ready cooked chicken with barbecue sauce on the outside. If you want to prepare your own chicken would be lovely to dip the chicken in olive oil and roll in fresh herbs before roasting it in the oven. The chicken can then be shredded and the herbs would add a lovely flavour.
Once everything is cool the salad can be put together. I used a bag of mixed salad leaves, added some cherry plum tomatoes and mixed these with the chicken, pasta and bacon bits. The final touch was to serve with some ranch dressing. The resulting salad was delicious, the pasta worked perfectly with the bacon and chicken to make a perfect lunch. The fresh pasta was gorgeous and full of flavour, the filling of ham and cheese perfectly complementing the rest of the meal.