A friend suggested that with my love for salads and bacon, I should create a BLT salad. Easily enough done with lettuce, but she said it would be fun if I made it a cold pasta dish. Hmm, I thought. That would be even easier. I love pasta salads and they are excellent to have on hand for grilling nights. This might be a good challenge.
Looking at recipes was no help. They were either too simple or too complicated and had too many ingredients. I wanted both pasta and chopped lettuce to be the focus in this dish, with the main flavor being tomatoes and bacon. I wanted it to simply be like a chopped up BLT sandwich, with pasta. So I was going to just wing it and see what resulted.
I started by dicing up half a package of bacon. I used a maple-cured bacon, because it’s my favorite. You could use any bacon based on your own personal tastes. Then fry it in a large skillet until it is crispy and brown. Drain it on towelling and set it aside.
While the bacon is frying, I brought a pot of water to boil, salted it, and cooked the pasta according to box directions for al dente. I used cavatappi; radiatore, rotini, even elbow mac would be good. Once the pasta was al dente, I drained it and rinsed it with cool water to stop it from cooking. I put it into a large mixing bowl and set it aside.
I had a red onion already chopped up in my fridge so I used a half cup of it, along with a ¼ cup of green onion. I wanted the green of the second onion, and the different flavor. My red onion was already fairly strong, so I didn’t use much of the green onion to avoid my salad being overly onion-y.
My P.S. (Produce Supplier/hubby) had bought regular tomatoes for once, so I used two medium-sized ones. I diced them and added them to the bowl.
Next I needed a dressing. I started with mayo and milk, salt and pepper, and a teaspoon of ground horseradish for a bit of zip. I whisked that all together, then added a tablespoon of white vinegar to add more zest and thicken the dressing. Thickened nicely, I poured it into the bowl of pasta and other ingredients and stirred it all together.
I covered the salad and put it into the fridge until dinner. I chopped a few cups of lettuce and put that into a bag and into the fridge.
Before dinner I took the salad and lettuce out of the fridge and put half of each into a bowl and stirred it all together. It was looking delicious already! I divided it among two flat bowls and served it with pulled pork sandwiches.
We totally loved the flavors of this salad. The maple bacon was a strong presence and the horseradish had made the dressing a tart and creamy flavor. It was really like eating a BLT, minus the crunchy toast. That gave me an idea: we had two servings left for another day and I’d serve it with croutons made with a little butter and garlic. Then we’d have the crunch of toast as well. They aren’t necessary, it’s just a nice touch to add.
BLT Pasta Salad
1/2 box Cavatappi pasta
1 1/2 cups mayo
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon grated horseradish
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/2 lb maple smoked bacon
2 medium tomatoes
2 cups lettuce (I used curly leaf lettuce)
garlic croutons, for garnish
Bring salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to box directions. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Pour into large bowl.
Dice bacon and fry until crispy and brown. Drain on towelling and add to bowl.
Dice red onion, green onions and tomatoes and add to bowl.
Whisk mayo, milk, salt, pepper and horseradish until smooth. Add vinegar and whisk again until smooth and thickened.
Pour dressing over other ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight.
Before serving, toss with 2 cups thinly sliced lettuce. Serve cold garnished with croutons if desired.
Tip: If only using half of the pasta, only toss half of the pasta and the lettuce together. Toss remainders together at another meal to prevent wilted lettuce.