A Better BLT Pasta Salad

07aBLTPastaSaladbzLOLast year, I made a BLT pasta salad, and it was good, but…

something was missing.

Then, earlier this month, I discovered what the problem was.

The tomatoes. I needed to cook the tomatoes in a bit of bacon fat with garlic and thyme. Made all the difference in the world.

Now this, my friends, is a BLT pasta salad.

01aMapleBaconbzLOI should note, tho’, that unless you serve this pasta salad on a bed of shredded lettuce – I used a combination of Iceberg and Romaine – you still really only have a BT (bacon and tomato) pasta salad.

INGREDIENTS
Dressing:
•1 cup mayonnaise
•1-1/2 tsp dry mustard
01cPastaCookedbzLO•2 tsp sugar
•3 tbsp salad vinegar
•6 tbsp sour cream
•1/2 tsp seasoned salt
•1/2 tsp celery salt
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1 tsp chives
•1 tsp parsley
•1/2 tsp Black and Red Spice – or 1/4 tsp each black pepper and Cayenne

01bDressingbzLOSalad:
•2 cups dried pasta
•Cooked, crumbled bacon – I used maple roasted
•1/2 cup diced sweet pepper
•1-1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
•1 cup diced celery
•1/2 cup shredded carrot
•2 cups sunburst tomatoes, halved
•1 clove garlic, minced
•1 tsp dried thyme
•2 tbsp bacon fat
•Lettuce, chopped
•Chopped fresh parsley

02bPastaDressingbzLOWhisk the dressing ingredients together, cover, and set aside – I stick mine into a pint mason jar – it makes it easier to pour out the first half by eye.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, well-salted water according to package directions.

Drain and rinse.

Allow to cool off a bit, then toss the pasta in a bowl with half of the dressing, then transfer to a container, cover and stash in 03aPastaNextDaybzLOthe fridge overnight – you can get away with doing this bit in the morning and completing and serving the salad at dinner that evening – but I don’t think you should try to rush it any more than that.

Note the bit of excess dressing on the pasta in the first photo.

Now, note this image of the pasta salad the next morning. The noodles have absorbed all that excess dressing (and flavor) and almost seem a bit dry.

04cAddBaconbzLOThis is a good thing; and now you can get on with the rest of the salad. Add the rest of the dressing and toss again.

Melt the bacon fat in a pan over medium high heat.

Add the garlic and thyme and cook just until fragrant, about one minute.

05cDressingbzLOAdd the tomatoes and cook until pan juices have reduced, five minutes.

Add most of the crumbled bacon (save a bit back for a garnish), stir to combine, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool for ten minutes or so.

Stir the pasta together with the tomatoes and bacon, the onion, celery, carrot, and sweet peppers in a large mixing bowl.

07bBLTPastaSaladbzLOPour the remaining dressing over the pasta and toss to mix well.

Stash back in the fridge until you are just about ready to serve.

Remove the salad and allow to rest on the counter for about 20 minutes.

Arrange the lettuce on a large platter, then top with the pasta salad.

Garnish with a the remaining bacon and freshly chopped parsley, and serve.

Y’know…

you might could add some cheese to this, too. I’m thinkin’ Feta would be lovely scattered over the top.

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