This BLT pasta salad is a fun twist on the classic bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. Easy to make and great for summer parties and picnics!
This salad is great for big crowds and is the perfect recipe to bring to a BBQ. I took it to a potluck recently and it was a big hit. It’s also great for cookouts and picnics. It’s super light and refreshing and makes the perfect summer salad with the fresh tomatoes and greens.
We eat a lot of BLT sandwiches in the summer because they’re easy to make and you don’t have to heat the oven. Plus they’re great for using up those fresh herbs and veggies from your garden.
This BLT pasta salad is a fun way of mixing things up. It’s made with fresh grape tomatoes, baby arugula, spinach, Cavatappi pasta, cheese, croutons and bacon. I mean, those ingredients sound delicious, right?! I used a light olive oil dressing to toss it in, although you could definitely make a creamy version too. Both ways taste delicious!
Tips for the best BLT pasta salad
- Best pasta to use. I used a box of Cavatappi noodles because I like the shape of this pasta and the ridges hold the sauce nicely.
- Bacon grease. Don’t discard all of the bacon grease! Leave about 2 Tablespoons in the skillet to add flavor when you sauté the tomatoes and garlic.
- Homemade croutons. I love adding these for an extra crunch. If you don’t have any on hand, you can easily make your own homemade croutons from scratch with any leftover bread laying around.
- Parmesan cheese. Top it off with freshly shaved parmesan cheese to give it the perfect finishing touch.
- Serve warm or cold. This salad tastes delicious served either way. You can serve it immediately after tossing, or place it in the fridge to cool down a bit before enjoying.
- Pasta. Feel free to use other types of pasta, like rotini, farfalle, macaroni or bow tie.
- Extras. You can add in some grilled chicken for protein or some diced avocado and red onion for more flavor.
- Greens. I used a mixture of fresh arugula and spinach, but you can also use chopped lettuce if you prefer.
- Creamy version. Use about 1/2 to 1 cup ranch dressing instead of adding olive oil. You can add a little more or little less depending on how thick you’d like it. Sometimes I use a vinaigrette instead and add in a couple tablespoons of mayonnaise, sour cream or Greek yogurt. It’s lighter than the ranch, but still has a creamy texture.
Because of the fresh ingredients included in this recipe, it’s ideal to consume the salad within the first day of assembling. That way it still tastes super fresh and the spinach and arugula don’t wilt and the croutons stay crunchy. If you have plans of storing leftovers, you may want to omit the greens and croutons when tossing the salad. Then mix them in right before serving so that they stay fresh.
More favorite summer salads:
- Chicken caesar pasta salad
- Macaroni salad
- Buffalo chicken pasta salad
- Pesto chicken pasta salad
- Southwest quinoa salad
BLT Pasta Salad
- 12 slices bacon
- 16 ounces Cavatappi pasta , or pasta of choice
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1 clove garlic , minced
- 3 cups mixed baby arugula and spinach
- salt and pepper to taste
- drizzle of olive oil
Optional for serving: Freshly shaved parmesan and croutons
- Bring about 4 quarts of water to a boil and add 1 Tablespoon salt. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, about 11 minutes. Cooking time may vary depending on type of pasta you use.
- Cook bacon in a non-stick pan until crispy (approximately 8 minutes per 4 slices of bacon). Place the cooked bacon on paper towels to drain. Reserve two Tablespoons of the bacon grease and remove the extra with a towel.
- In the same pan that the bacon was cooked in, heat tomatoes and minced garlic along with the reserved bacon grease until the tomatoes are tender (about 2 minutes).
- Add the cooked pasta to the pan of sautéed tomatoes and garlic. Then add the cooked bacon and mixed greens and toss together. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese and croutons if desired. Serve warm or cold. This salad is best served the first day.
Recipe and photography contributed by Katie from The Casual Craftlete.