Quite frankly, I’m not a fan of most pasta salads I’ve tried.  I always try them, though, hoping that this time will be different.  Unfortunately, again and again, I’m disappointed by a soggy, slimy, too-saucy/oily glob of goo.  If you’re with me on this, keep reading, I promise there’s a payoff.  This recipe is so good, in fact, it’s a new favorite of mine.   Part of the reason for that is, it’s based on an old favorite of mine, the B.L.T. sandwich.  Simple, classic ingredients;  a creamy, not-too-greasy dressing; and—dare I say it—cute little tubes of pasta… what’s not to love.  This recipe makes a pretty large batch (a little over 2 quarts) but it’s easily adjustable for a big family gathering or a quick weekday meal.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 lb. bacon
  • 1 lb. ditalini pasta
  • 2 c. grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2-3 c. green leaf lettuce, chopped
  • 3/4 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/2 c. Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1/2 t. crushed red pepper flake
  • 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • salt to taste

First, get the bacon going.  You can cook the whole pieces and crumble them after they’ve cooled, but I find that it’s easier—with very cold bacon and a very sharp knife—to chop the bacon first, several slices at a time.  Then, put them in a medium saucepan, covered with a lid, over medium-high heat until they begin to steam.  Leave the lid on for 2-3 minutes allowing the bacon to release much of its water.  Turn the heat to medium and remove the lid.  Let the bacon cook, stirring regularly, for 10-20 minutes until all of the fat has rendered and the bacon is crispy.  Strain onto paper towels with a slotted spoon and set aside.

While the bacon is cooking, prepare the veggies and cook the pasta according to the package directions.

In a bowl large enough to hold everything, mix together the mayo, yogurt, and red pepper flakes.  Drain the pasta and pour it into the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat while it’s warm.  Add the bacon, lettuce, and tomato and toss again.  Lastly, taste it for salt, mix in the cheddar cheese and give it one last stir.  Serve immediately, or refrigerate for later.

If you love B.L.T.s, check out this B.L.A.T. Chopped Salad with Green Goddess Dressing.

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