This fresh BLT pasta salad is loaded with smoky chunks of bacon, crisp romaine lettuce, and tart cherry tomatoes in a creamy red wine vinegar dressing.
This is a great summer pasta salad recipe, particularly as garden tomatoes are beginning to ripen. During the summer months, I begin to crave BLT inspired meals any way I can make them. Be sure to check out my BLT wraps and Gourmet BLT as well.
- Rotini pasta - Any similarly sized pasta can be substituted as well.
- Bacon - I recommend using thick cut bacon.
- Red wine vinegar
- Tomatoes - I recommend using cherry tomatoes for this recipe, as they are typically the freshest tasting tomatoes you can reliably purchase from grocery stores. Most larger tomatoes are picked green and artificially ripened on the way to the grocer, which dramatically stunts their flavor.
- Romaine lettuce - I particularly like using romaine lettuce for this pasta salad. Romaine is one of the crunchiest varieties of lettuce you can purchase, so it adds to the overall texture of this dish far better than a softer lettuce would, such as green leaf, for example.
- Red onion - I also like adding thinly sliced red onions, for both the flavor and texture they provide. Be sure to slice them thinly though, overly thick cuts of red onion can quickly overpower the flavor of the dish.
Pasta Salad Dressing
This pasta salad is dressed with a mixture of mayo, red wine vinegar, and a generous dose of fresh ground black pepper. The bright flavor of vinegar accents the smoky bacon and ground pepper nicely. If you can't get enough of the red wine vinegar flavor, add a couple of dribbles to the pasta salad just prior to serving to really make it pop!
How to make it
Making the pasta salad is as easy as crisping the bacon, and combining everything in a large bowl. I recommend mixing the dressing separately though, prior to adding it. As always, when you make boxed noodles, be sure to follow the package instructions.
Tips and Tricks
- If tomatoes are in season, feel free to substitute anything that is ripe in your garden.
- If you like a creamier salad the quantity of dressing can be increased.
- Feel free to experiment by substituting other vinegar such as apple cider or balsamic.
Not only can this be made in advance, but the flavors of it are best when everything is allowed to meld in the refrigerator overnight. The smoky bacon flavor really infuses each bite. Admittedly the bacon and lettuce will soften slightly, from soaking up the liquid of the dressing overnight, but this is a very minor issue. The texture is still good overall. For maximum crispness, you can wait to add the lettuce right before serving if you wish.
Yes, rinsing pasta in cold water after cooking quickly cools it down so you are not serving a warm pasta salad.
If you don't serve pasta salad right away the noodles will slowly soak up much of the dressing. You can limit this by tossing the pasta in olive oil to create a waterproof barrier from the dressing. Alternatively, if you know if you aren't serving the pasta right away you can just add more dressing to compensate for what will be soaked up.
More Pasta Salads
BLT Pasta Salad
- 12 oz rotini pasta
- 1 pound thick cut bacon (cut into 1" pieces)
- 1 cup mayo
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 ½ cups romaine lettuce
- ½ red onion (thinly sliced)
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 pinch salt
- Boil noodles according to package instructions, drain and rinse under cold water to cool.
- While noodles are boiling cook bacon in a skillet until crispy.
- Prepare the dressing by mixing together mayo and red wine vinegar.
- Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix to combine.
- Serve immediately, or store sealed in the refrigerator overnight.
This recipe was originally published May 30, 2019 on FoxValleyFoodie.com.