BLT Pasta Salad

The “BLT” in the name is the same BLT combo we love in sandwiches – bacon, lettuce and tomato – but here, they’re combined with corkscrew pasta and turned into a winner of a side dish. I’m thinking that if you wanted to make it really hearty – a meal in a bowl – you could add some chopped rotisserie chicken to the salad and be good to go. Here’s hoping you and your fellow tailgaters enjoy the recipe.

BLT Pasta Salad

16 ounces corkscrew-shaped pasta
1/2 cup milk (skim is fine)
8 slices bacon
1 sweet onion, diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
5 cups chopped romaine lettuce

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water as directed on the package. Drain well, then 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 about 3 or 4 tablespoons of drippings from the pan. Add the onion and saute until light golden brown and tender. Add the tomatoes, thyme and garlic to the pan and stir gently until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add to pasta in the bowl.

Crumble all but 2 slices of the bacon into bite-size pieces, then add to the pasta mixture. Toss gently.

Combine the mayo, sour cream and chives in a small bowl, then add to the pasta and toss until evenly mixed. Add the chopped lettuce and toss again; adjust salt and pepper if needed. Spoon into a serving bowl, then crumble remaining bacon and sprinkle on top. Best served at room temperature. Makes 8-10 side-dish servings.