Finally is what a few of you are probably saying right now. I talked about this pasta salad with my facebook followers weeks ago and I apologize for the delay in sharing the recipe, but I had to make it one more time (and get a better picture) just to make sure it was perfect for you.
Along with grilled foods, I think pasta salads are perfect summer time meals. They are simple, versatile, and can feed a crowd. This one is inspired by one of my favorite summer sandwiches when tomatoes are at their peak-- the classic BLT. I, however, twist up the classic in this pasta salad. Of course there is bacon for the B, and tomato for the T, but I made a substitution for the L, as well as an addition of the A. I like baby arugula for a nice peppery bite that compliments the bacon and tomato well. The addition of avocados lends a buttery and creamy taste and texture. What really makes this pasta salad fun and stays true to the sandwich inspiration are the crunchy, buttery homemade croutons; hence the panzanella in the name.
As far as the recipe goes, I will let you cook the bacon to your own liking. I know some people have to have it just right (like me), and others like it burnt to a crisp. I used plum tomatoes in the recipe because that is what I can get all my children to eat, but you can use cherry tomatoes or any other variety that you like. Like a slathering of good mayo on a BLT, the creamy dressing brings all the ingredients together. BLT + pasta salad = yes, please!Printable Recipe
BLAT Pasta Panzanella Salad
serves 12-16 as a side dish, 6-8 as a main course
For the Dressing
1 medium garlic clove finely grated on a microplane
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup light sour cream
1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the Pasta Salad
1 pound bite-size pasta
1 pound bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and cooked to your liking
6 plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into small dice
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
2 ripe avocados, halved, pitted, skinned, and cut into bite-size chunks
2 1/2 ounces baby arugula
3 cups buttered croutons
In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Dressing can be made and refrigerated up to 3 days in advance.)
Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the manufacturer's directions. Drain and spread out onto a shallow baking sheet. Let cool to room temperature.
Transfer pasta, bacon, tomatoes, and red onion to a large bowl; do not mix. (Pasta salad can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 hours.) When ready to serve, add avocado, arugula, croutons, and dressing; toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes and serve. Enjoy!
Source: Dressing adapted from Cook Smart by Pam Anderson, Pasta Salad The Galley Gourmet