At our house, pasta is a regular staple, especially for weeknight meals. It’s fast, healthy, budget-friendly, and can be served in different ways on different days, whether topped with a hearty bolognese or tossed with veggies for Meatless Monday. And it makes everyone at my table happy (with two kids with two very different sets of opinions, that’s no easy feat!).
Even better, tonight’s pasta can be repurposed for tomorrow’s lunch boxes. Now that school is in full swing for us, a quick dinner that rolls right into quick lunch boxes is nothing short of a weekday miracle. Recently, I’ve been packing cheese tortellini as a lunch box main course. It’s good warm or cold and keeps bellies full and energy up all afternoon.
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You can buy fresh tortellini, but I usually stock frozen. I like to keep frozen pasta on reserve in my freezer because it comes to the rescue when sports practices and music lessons threaten to wreck family dinner. Drop it into a pot of boiling water and it cooks up in less than five minutes.
No matter what the shape of pasta, pesto is one of my favorite toppings. I think I could probably eat plain pesto by the spoonful. (Is that weird?) Basil pesto is all well and good, but I also like to use greens I tend to have on hand, like spinach and kale. It blends up into a beautiful bright green color.
A batch of this Spinach-Kale Pesto is more than enough to cover a bag of frozen tortellini (or a package of fresh). Stash any leftover pesto in the fridge and spread it on sandwiches or pizza crusts. Or sneak it by the spoonful.
Lunchbox Pesto Tortellini
- 1 bag frozen cheese tortellini
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 cups packed fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup packed fresh baby kale
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese plus more for topping
- Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain and toss with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil. Set aside.
- Place spinach, kale, salt, garlic, walnuts, and parmesan cheese in a blender or food processor.
- With motor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until you reach the desired consistency (you may not use all of the olive oil).
- Toss cooked tortellini with a heaping spoonful or two of the pesto (as much as you like).
- Serve warm or cold, with additional parmesan cheese.
- Pack up leftover pesto tortellini in airtight containers for lunch boxes. (Be sure to use a cold pack in lunch boxes.)
- Store leftover pesto in an airtight container and refrigerate if using within the next week. Otherwise, place in freezer.
For more meal ideas that feature pasta, visit the Pasta Fits website, where you can search recipes by ingredient or prep time.
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