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Taste Test: Pesto with Barilla and TJ’s Tortellini

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Taste Test: Pesto with Barilla and TJ’s Tortellini

Dommy! | Apr 25, 2006 02:24 PM

You can blame it on Wallace and Grommit Movie, but about a month ago, I got a massive jones for pesto… so, I asked the CHs here to give me their best Pestos… The VERY first post, by Hound DanaB, someone’s whose great cooking skills I can actually vouch for (miss ya babe!) intrigued me… she posted this recipe by Marcella Hazan:

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 C. tightly packed basil leaves
3 T. Pinenuts
1/2 C EVOO
Coarse sea salt, pepper to taste
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1/2 C grated best parmesan
2 T grated romano
3 T. butter

If you are processing in a food processor, put in the ingredients before parmesan, and blend well. Hand mix in the grated cheese and softened butter.

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I was intrigued because I had never done a pesto with butter in it… perhaps that is why I never liked any of the pestos I’ve prepared before and was turning to the hounds. So I went ahead and made the pesto and added to some penne and grilled chicken sprinkled with Italian Spices… and it was FANTASTIC… The butter REALLY helped everything come together. Further, it created a COAT on the Pasta so the Pesto stuck on wonderfully…

After this dinner, my jones just increased into a kick. I remember once eating this great cold pasta salad of pesto on tortellini… it was the first great pesto dish I’ve ever had! And I hadn’t had Tortellini in AGES, so once again, I turned to the hounds and they lead me to Barilla’s Shelf Stable Tortellini and Trader Joes Articoke Frozen Tortellini. I decided to try both…

I found myself at Kroger shortly after the post and decided to pick up the Barilla first. Among their several interesting flavors, I choose the three Cheese one because that reminded most of what I used to get in that pasta salad.

I admit, I didn’t have high hopes for shelf stable tortellini, but when I opened the bad I was pleased by their appearance, not at all like those little dried tortellini’s I’ve seen around. They were a great size… not too big or small… I did them a little underdone (So I could finish them off with the pesto and butter) and served it all up with some roasted red curry cauliflower.

Once again, the pesto hit all cylinders… awesome flavor and it worked so well with the tortellini. The tortellini itself were darn good, they held their shape really nice and the filling was just slightly too salty. But it worked good with the Cauliflower.

A week later, I finally headed over to Trader Joes and eagerly looked forward to the Artichoke Pesto… one of my favorite things in the world… Artichoke, I even planned on adding some marinaded Artichoke to my Pesto… but sadly as Trader Joes does often, it didn’t have it in stock!! Grrr!!! The usually handy TJ’s associate didn’t even know what I was talking about!! So I wandered down the refridgerated Aisle and saw the had refrigerated tortellini (I picked the plain cheese to compare to the Barilla) and going to the shelf stable aisle, I happened to spy a TJ’s barilla clone, but only offered in Mushroom… I picked that up too…in interest of chowhounding science of course…

And so I came home and prepared them both separately as the dried required a longer cooking time. I undercooked each by 1 minute and then tossed them together with my pesto and slices of TJ’s Chicken, Mushroom and Asiago Cheese Sausage. I heated it all through and served…
The mushroom was great in texture and in taste. A little larger in size than Barillas, but the lead for a more mushroom PUNCH. Still though, I don’t think it was the best thing to go with the Pesto. I would SO buy these tortellini again, but serve with an alfredo sauce better (With sausages too!)

The cheese was BAD. Some cooked through, others did not and and the filling remained chalky and hard. The cheese had NO flavor. I am so glad I mixed the two with the sausage because otherwise it would have been one bland pesto dish…

And so the winner of this small taste test was Barilla Shelf Stable! Thanks again to the hounds for guiding me to this great product and pesto recipe! I think I’m over my Pesto Tortellini phase…(My SO just breathed a sigh of relief) and I’m not sure what my next thing will be… But I’m sure you’ll hear about it! :)

--Dommy!

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