This pasta salad will be a great addition to our summer grilling repertoire. (Now all I need is a working grill! Ours broke last fall and I am desperate to replace it... I'm not sure I can go a whole summer without grilling.) When I received the lastest addition of Food Network Magazine, this recipe really jumped out at me. My sister recently wrote about a different version of BLT Pasta Salad on her blog and it is one that I have made (and eaten) many times before. It is one of my favorite summer salads and I was definitely intrigued by some of the different ingredients and preparation in this new version. The recipe says to serve this warm, but I made it ahead of time to take advantage of 'nap time' at our house. I tried a little bite (all the self control in the world) when making it and it was very good warm-- but I think I might like it even better cold. I had some the next day for lunch and it was wonderful straight from the fridge. If anyone tries it, I'd love to hear how you liked it best-- warm or cold.
**A tip they offer in the magazine is to toss the cooked pasta with milk to keep it from becoming gummy. I have used cold water before to keep the pasta from sticking when using it in a salad, but had not tried milk. It worked really well, better than water, and is a method I would definitely use again.
BLT Pasta Salad
12 ounces corkscrew-shaped pasta (I actually used 16 ounces of rotini)
1/2 cup milk
12 ounces lean bacon (I used 16 ounces to match my increase in pasta)
3 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons chopped chives or scallion greens
5 heads Bibb lettuce, quartered or 5 cups chopped romaine hearts
Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water as the label directs. Drain and toss with the milk in a large bowl; set aside. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Discard all but 3 tablespoons drippings from the pan. Add the tomatoes, thyme, and garlic to the pan and toss until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper. Crumble the bacon into bite-sized pieces; set aside 1/4 cup for garnish. Toss the remaining bacon and the tomato mixture with the pasta. Mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, and 3 tablespoons chives with the pasta until evenly combined. Season with salt and pepper. Add the lettuce; toss again to coat. Garnish with the reserved bacon and the remaining 1 tablespoon chives. Serve at room temperature (or cold!).
Source: Food Network Magazine