The first time my parents tried this tortellini salad, they were stationed with the Army in New Jersey. In the small town of Little Silver, an Italian deli named Giovanni's sold the salad, and my parents loved it so much, they started making their own version of it it when they had to move away.
A quick Google search for the store told me it is still alive and well on Oceanport Avenue, just next to the train station that takes commuters to and from New York City. I couldn't find a Web site for it, just lots of mentions on business sites -- and one in a New York Times article about Little Silver.
Here's the recipe my mom created. If it tastes exactly like Giovanni's salad I can't say, but my mom is an incredible cook, so if there's one person who can copy something well from scratch, it is she. It's important to note, she says, that the salad should sit overnight in the refrigerator, so the oil and vinegar can really soak into the ingredients.
Mom's tortellini salad (makes 8-10 side servings)
10 ounces of spinach and cheese tortellini, cooked and cooled (I used pesto tortellini because it's what I had in the house, and it turned out just as good)
1/2 onion, thinly sliced (I used a red one)
a handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered (optional)
three green onions, chopped
3/4 sweet red pepper, diced
a generous amount of Italian herbs (I used about 1-1/2 tablespoons dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, and lots of chopped, fresh basil and parsley -- but dried is best for this recipe, I think)
fresh chives (optional -- I left them out)
white balsamic vinegar and olive oil (it's hard to give the measurements because I just poured them on, but if I had to guess, it's 1/4 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup olive oil)
salt and pepper, to taste
Toss ingredients together in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Today's question: Are there any recipes from a deli or restaurant that you have tried to recreate at home?