Recently, I decided to add a new twist to an old favorite, turning the popular BLT sandwich into a pasta salad, then changing it up a bit more by substituting our favorite creamy Caesar dressing for the traditional mayonnaise. The result? Filling and delicious!
Pasta salads are great for summer eating and, for that matter, so are bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwiches. At our house, we enjoy pasta salads as a meal, but they're also great for a side dish with just about anything from hamburgers to baked ham.
This version contains plenty of bacon to make it hearty and more filling, but of course the beauty of any pasta salad is that you can vary the ingredients and their amounts to suit your taste or preferences. I'll talk about some of those recipe variations below.
Here's the recipe:
BLT Pasta Salad
12 ounces rotini pasta (or your favorite shape)
6 or 8 thin slices bacon (see notes about bacon below)
15 or 20 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
6 to 8 ounces coarsely shredded lettuce (iceberg or romaine works well)
Creamy Caesar salad dressing, bottled or your own recipe, to taste (1/2 cup or so)
- Cook pasta as directed on package; rinse with cold water and drain well. Pour into a large bowl.
- Cook bacon, drain and cool, then crumble or use kitchen scissors to cut into pieces. (Or use real bacon bits.) Add to pasta.
- Add the tomatoes.
- Gently stir in salad dressing. Can be made ahead to this point.
- Chill until shortly before ready to serve (an hour or two or overnight) then, shortly before serving, stir in the shredded lettuce along with a little more dressing. This helps to keep the lettuce crisp.
Makes enough to serve a family or provide a few days of leftovers for a couple.
Notes about the bacon: I like precooked bacon (usually the frozen bacon from Schwan's) and used eight thin slices, cooked in the microwave, for this recipe. I've also used package bacon bits; just make sure to choose real bacon. These recipe-sized chunks of bacon (at the link) also work very well in this salad. If you prefer frying your own bacon, be sure to drain well and cool before crumbling or cutting into pieces. If you prefer vegetarian, omit the bacon or use a substitute.
Recipe Variations: One of the best things about BLT pasta salad is its versatility. Add, subtract, or vary the amounts of the ingredients that you and your family love most. Don't care for the creamy Caesar dressing? Replace it with your favorite ranch or even a simple vinaigrette. Like onion on your BLT? Sliced green onions would be a nice addition to the salad. Or dice and add some red ones. Include chunks of cheese, black olives, or whatever your family would enjoy on their BLT or in their pasta salad.
This recipe makes for a perfect potluck dish that's thrifty, too, especially when tomatoes are in season. I like to make it in the summer when I grow my own grape tomatoes, but it's perfectly fine to choose a package of tomatoes from the grocery store or, if you're lucky to have one, a local farmer's market. Having used both shredded iceberg lettuce from a bag and fresh, green leaf lettuce, I definitely recommend the leaf version (or romaine). It only takes a minute to shred it into bite-sized pieces using your own knife. The fresher the ingredients, the better. In the picture above, I included fresh baby kale from the garden to the salad, a fabulous add-in. Fresh baby spinach is always good, too.
The day I took the picture below, we grilled chicken breasts, served the pasta salad on the side, and topped it off with a garnish of delicious avocado. In the picture above, I added kale with the lettuce and served the salad with delicious lean grilled pork. As good as it looked both times, it tasted even better.
|Serve BLT pasta salad as a side dish alongside your |
favorite grilled meat for a filling lunch or dinner.
It's great to take to a potluck, too.
Think you'd like this BLT pasta salad or will you stick with the sandwich version? I'd love to read your thoughts in a comment below.