Warm Mediterranean Salad

There is a nice shopping mall about 2 hours away that I visit when I have to go to a mall. Well, truth be told, I probably only shop at Williams-Sonoma there, unless I’m Christmas shopping. Then I’m a bit more adventurous.

The mall has a nice restaurant that I go to because of the convenience. But it’s good! You’ll all probably be shocked that it’s a chain restaurant, called Pepperoni Grill.

The menu is nice, the restaurant is always clean, and the service great. Surprisingly great.

Oddly enough, I’ve always ordered the same thing, which is a warm Mediterranean Tortellini and Vegetable salad, served with a creamy balsamic vinaigrette.

I say this is odd, because typically, I would order something new on the menu. But, after 20+ years, I keep ordering this salad. It’s so good, so well prepared, and so satisfying.

Then I had the brilliant idea to replicate the salad at home. It doesn’t look exactly the same because the restaurant uses tricolor tortellini, but mine tasted just as good! Being that it’s not springtime, I opted for green beans instead of asparagus.

Warm Mediterranean Salad
inspired by Pepperoni Grill’s salad

Vinaigrette:
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons yogurt
1 tablespoon agave syrup
2 teaspoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt

Salad:
2 pounds small, red-skinned potatoes, quartered
1 pound trimmed green Beans
1 pound yellow squash, coarsely chopped
32 ounces cheese tortellini
10 uncles spring lettuces
Sliced sun-dried tomatoes, the kind stored in oil
Kalamata olives, drained, halved
Grated Parmesan

To prepare the vinaigrette, place all of the ingredients in a small blender jar. Blend until smooth. Taste for salt. Can be made a day ahead, but bring the vinaigrette to room temperature before making the salad.

The vegetables must be prepared separately for the salad, in order to have them all at the proper cook. It’s also best for all of the vegetables and the tortellini to be warm when served, so one must move quickly!

In a steamer basket, cook the potatoes just until tender. Place in a large bowl, toss with a few tablespoons of vinaigrette, and set aside. If you don’t like a lot of dressing, use some olive oil instead.

Cook the green beans in the steamer basket and add them to the potatoes. Toss together gently, adding a little more vinaigrette to keep the vegetables moist.

Do the same with the yellow squash, making sure not to overcook. Add to the potatoes and beans.

Cook the cheese tortellini according to package directions. Drain and let cool slightly.

Add the still warm tortellini to the vegetables. Add the desired amount of vinaigrette and and toss gently.

Add the sun-dried tomatoes and olives to taste.

Then sprinkle on a generous amount of Parmesan. No mixing necessary.


Serve warm.

I like a lot of vinaigrette on my salads, but I’m aware that not everyone does. So when I suggest to add the desired amount of vinaigrette, that’s exactly what I mean!

My mother’s secret to a good potato salad was to always add some olive oil to the warm, just-cooked potatoes. So that’s what I did in this salad, using the vinaigrette instead of just olive oil, as well as adding some vinaigrette to the cooked tortellini. This keeps them moist and prevents sticking.

In anticipation of making this salad, I googled it to see if I was making something fairly unique or not. Turns out, there are tortellini/pasta salads, and there are potato salads. This salad really combines the two – a pasta salad with a significant amount of veggies.

The vegetables are along the lines of “primavera” vegetables, and can definitely be changed depending on what’s in season. Zucchini, broccoli, baby carrots, asparagus… all would be good. They could be grilled as well.

And of course this salad would be wonderful with grilled meat, but I prefer it the way it is.

So would I visit Pepperoni Grill for a special night out? No. But the fact that I can expect quality with what I’m ordering and enjoy a leisurely lunch, with a decent glass of wine, during a day of shopping, is really nice.

By Published On: October 11th, 201755 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

55 Comments

  1. Loretta October 11, 2017 at 7:19 AM - Reply

    I don’t blame you for returning again and again and ordering the same dish :) Love all the ingredients in that dressing and one can make it as versatile as ever with the different veggies. I usually go to this one restaurant, real eclectic type of place and I’m always ordering chickpea fajitas. They make the guac real fresh and I can never get enough of it.

    • chef mimi October 11, 2017 at 7:21 AM - Reply

      Right! Maybe we’re too scared to orther something that wouldn’t be as good! It’s just more typical of me to try something new or different, but I guess that’s more when we’re traveling, not just 2 hours away!

  2. Travel Gourmet October 11, 2017 at 7:32 AM - Reply

    I have favourites too in some places – and sometimes when I force myself to have a change I’m disappointed! Lovely salad. Like you I wouldn’t want meat as it’s a great meal on its own. How nice to have such a good place to eat in the shopping mall.

    • chef mimi October 11, 2017 at 8:06 AM - Reply

      And it’s a chain! It’s not like me to go to any chain restaurant, but I can’t be smug about it when I do! Even their vinaigrette is good!

  3. Teagan R. Geneviene October 11, 2017 at 8:03 AM - Reply

    Oooo… Mimi, this sounds wonderful! Kudos on the find. Hugs.

  4. Gerlinde October 11, 2017 at 8:45 AM - Reply

    We have a restaurant where I live that I have been going to for years and most of the time I order their ginger wasabi salmon over vegetables. Come to think of it, I should try to make it at home. Your salad looks delicious, who cares if it’s a chain restaurant.

    • chef mimi October 11, 2017 at 1:42 PM - Reply

      Well, I do, just because I’m so snobby that way. I’ve lived in towns in the past where that’s all there were, and I really was miserable!!!

  5. chefkreso October 11, 2017 at 10:29 AM - Reply

    Dijon mustard is such a great addition to this salad, sounds and looks fantastic! :D

    • chef mimi October 11, 2017 at 1:41 PM - Reply

      It’s a really nice, satisfying salad!

  6. kitchenriffs October 11, 2017 at 10:42 AM - Reply

    I hate shopping! Except for food. And wine. :-) But I’d be tempted to go if I could order this at a restaurant. This looks excellent — thanks.

    • chef mimi October 11, 2017 at 1:41 PM - Reply

      I’ve shopped only online for as long as there was an internet. Mostly because I’ve lived in some smaller towns, like the one I’m in now, that haven’t had decent places to shop. I especially dislike malls. Thank goodness this one mall has a Williams-Sonoma. Sometimes you need to see things in person!

  7. foodzesty October 11, 2017 at 10:43 AM - Reply

    Great recipe! :)

  8. Laura @ Feast Wisely October 11, 2017 at 4:27 PM - Reply

    Looks lovely Chef Mimi – especially the dressing and so nice to see a salad served warm. Enjoy your time in Sydney!

    • chef mimi October 11, 2017 at 5:23 PM - Reply

      Thank you! I’m so excited. And I also love warm salads!

  9. ladyredspecs October 11, 2017 at 5:46 PM - Reply

    I also dress the just cooked potatoes with olive oil when making a salad, it seems to make a huge difference to the final flavour. Good food is good food no matter the source. I see from the above comment you’re heading our way. Just Sydney? There’s plenty of great food there..

    • chef mimi October 11, 2017 at 5:48 PM - Reply

      Sydney, Cairns, Adelaide, the outback, a few spots in New Zealand…. I checked to see where you live… we won’t be there, sadly.

      • ladyredspecs October 11, 2017 at 5:54 PM

        Brisbane isn’t a tourist hot spot but I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with your itinerary. I presume Cairns is to access the Great Barrier Reef and Adelaide for wineries. Have a wonderful time, I hope to keep track via your posts.

      • chef mimi October 11, 2017 at 6:14 PM

        Yes! 3 weeks isn’t enough time, but we’re so excited for this dream trip!

  10. M.L. Parma October 11, 2017 at 6:42 PM - Reply

    looking good……… >

  11. Lisa @ cheergerm October 11, 2017 at 9:07 PM - Reply

    Nice looking salad Mimi. Have you booked any Sydney restaurants yet?

  12. chezlerevefrancais October 12, 2017 at 5:50 AM - Reply

    I’m really into warm salads at the moment and I’ve never had tortellini in a salad so this is definitely one I shall be trying. Thanks Mimi!

  13. Abbe@This is How I Cook October 12, 2017 at 9:35 PM - Reply

    There is a lot to be said for consistency. I say if you have a good thing going stick with it! And that long in the restaurant business says something! Thanks for sharing!

    • chef mimi October 13, 2017 at 3:56 PM - Reply

      I agree. Consistency, quality, good service. That’s all I ask for!!!!!

  14. dishinwithdidi October 13, 2017 at 3:50 AM - Reply

    Mimi this looks beyond delicious! I’m like you, I don’t need any type of meat, I will just have this salad please! ♥

  15. karrie / Tasty Ever After October 14, 2017 at 12:12 PM - Reply

    Williams-Sonoma is the best darn store in the mall! Love shopping there but usually it’s window shopping because YIKES on their prices. Lol! It’s so strange too how every mall always has one fantastic quick service place. Our mall has an awesome little place that serve Mediterranean foods and everything is homemade and delicious! Sometimes I just run in to grab something to eat there. I like eating meatless lunches through the week so I’ll have to make this salad for next week. Have a great weekend Mimi :)

    • chef mimi October 15, 2017 at 7:48 AM - Reply

      Yeah, W-S is not cheap. But at least they have quality products, and have good return policies. You’ll love this salad!

  16. Frank Fariello October 15, 2017 at 6:41 AM - Reply

    I can see that you and I have something in common, a love for Williams-Sonoma. I generally hate to shop, but I can spend hours rummaging around one of their stores. ;-)

  17. Angela@grapegravy​ October 15, 2017 at 3:56 PM - Reply

    Oh my goodness! this looks delicious!

  18. canelakitchen October 15, 2017 at 6:59 PM - Reply

    I really love this salad, looks warm and delicious !

    • chef mimi October 16, 2017 at 6:59 AM - Reply

      It has so many flavors and pleasant textures!

  19. hotlyspiced October 16, 2017 at 12:34 AM - Reply

    What an interesting salad. I love how it has tortellini in it. And so many other really tasty ingredients xx

    • chef mimi October 16, 2017 at 6:59 AM - Reply

      Thank you Charlie! Where have you been?!! Or did something happen to my follow… I’ll check into that.

  20. My Little Italian Kitchen October 16, 2017 at 9:35 AM - Reply

    Beautiful Mimi! This salad is so comforting and delicious. Very nice, I love all your recipes!

  21. Kelly, RD October 16, 2017 at 8:12 PM - Reply

    This looks great! When I find something I love at a particular restaurant, it’s hard to order something new!

    • chef mimi October 17, 2017 at 7:54 AM - Reply

      I guess that’s true for me, for restaurants I frequent!

  22. Karen October 17, 2017 at 2:06 PM - Reply

    I’ve never been to a Pepperoni Grill but your inspired dish sounds great.

    • chef mimi October 17, 2017 at 2:40 PM - Reply

      It’s a nice and warm and comforting salad full of flavor and texture.

  23. Jeff the Chef October 23, 2017 at 11:25 PM - Reply

    MMM, that is so much more than just a salad. I can see why you like to have it again and again.

    • chef mimi October 24, 2017 at 7:30 AM - Reply

      Exactly. and the vinaigrette is good, which isn’t usually the case in chain restaurants. They usually have that horrible “Italian” vinaigrette.

  24. CakePants October 29, 2017 at 10:39 PM - Reply

    What a mouthwatering salad, full of the kinds of wholesome and hearty foods I crave in the fall. I love all the different textures in this!

  25. Marci Werner July 7, 2022 at 12:16 PM - Reply

    I called yesterday & they don’t have it any longer 😭

    • Chef Mimi July 7, 2022 at 12:28 PM - Reply

      Last time I was there, although it was years ago, I asked about it and they were still able to make it even though it was on the menu! Maybe there’s a chance!

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