Your favorite sandwich is about to become your favorite salad with a flavor-packed recipe for BLT Pasta Salad made with a garlicky vinaigrette.
There’s just something special about pasta salad. If you’re looking for me at a barbecue, you can find me in line for seconds of whatever creamy or vinegary pasta salad is on the menu. So many flavor combinations and opportunities, pasta really is the ideal canvas for whatever you’re craving.
And this week, I was craving a BLT. You know the one, packed with thick slices of red tomatoes and salty bacon. But something was missing. Something… zippy? A little sweet? So off to the drawing board I went, with pasta salad as my trusty base. And I found what was missing: a garlicky lemon dressing to balance all those fresh flavors, becoming this deliciously bright, yet rich BLT Pasta Salad.
What Dressing to Put On Pasta Salad
When it comes to dressing up your pasta, there are typically two divided camps: Do you go with a creamy mayo or yogurt-based dressing, or with a bright, vinegary dressing? I love a creamier salad, which is why I always have my top-rated Caesar Pasta Salad in the rotation!
For this BLT salad, since we are using crispy, salty bacon, I opted for a lighter vinegar-based dressing to cut through all the richness. The lemony dressing coats the bits of croutons just right and reminds me of Panzanella (Italian bread salad). All you need are classic pantry staples: red wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and honey. Drizzle in olive oil until it’s emulsified and you’ll be ready to dress up your salad!
What to Serve with BLT Salad
This salad is a favorite side dish of mine to bring along to potlucks and barbecues, but it becomes a solid main course topped with grilled chicken, shrimp or even alongside meatballs. You really can’t go wrong whichever way you go, but I love serving these with skewers of Glazed Honey Garlic Shrimp or Honey Balsamic Baked Chicken Thighs.
How to Store Pasta Salad
In the off-chance you happen to have leftovers, you’re in luck. Pasta salad only gets better as the dressing marinates each part of this delicious BLT salad. So whether you’re making it ahead of time or want to know how to safely store it for tomorrow’s lunch, vinegar-based salads are still delicious 3 to 4 days after they’re prepared. If you opt for a creamier dressing, you’ll want to serve it closer to when you want to enjoy it as it’ll stay fresh in the fridge for about 2 days.
To maximize freshness, store it in an airtight container in the fridge. If possible, keep any super-absorbent ingredients like cheeses, croutons and nuts separate from the tossed salad to prevent them from getting soggy.Craving more? Subscribe to Just a Taste to get new recipes, meal plans and a newsletter delivered straight to your inbox! And stay in touch on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for all of the latest updates.
For the dressing:
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the salad:
- 16 oz. uncooked short pasta, such as rotini, penne or farfalle
- 1 (12-oz.) package bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 3 cups chopped Romaine or arugula
- 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups croutons
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Make the dressing:
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and honey. While whisking, stream in the olive oil and continue whisking until emulsified. Taste and season the dressing with salt and pepper then set it aside.
Make the salad:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the pasta and transfer it to a large bowl.
- To the bowl with the pasta, add the bacon, Romaine, cherry tomatoes, croutons and chives. Toss to combine then drizzle with the dressing and toss again.
- Serve room temp or chilled.
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Can you use tortellini?
This is really good! Perfect to take to a cookout where it can sit at room temperature. The only thing I would suggest is to cook your pasta in advance to let it cool down….and after tossing all the ingredients, let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour so all the flavors can mingle. I found it just got better sitting on the counter
Great tips, Cindy! I’m thrilled you enjoyed the recipe!
Excellent recipe! The garlicky dressing was just perfect too!
I’m so thrilled you enjoyed the recipe, Greg!