Thursday, July 4, 2013

Potluck BLT Pasta Salad

It's 4th of July, so I'm going to keep this short and sweet because I know that everyone, including me, wants to be outside enjoying the beautiful day.  In fact, I am putting the finishing touches on the children's games I have planned at our community get-together, while I have my husband busily filling water balloons.  And, it's from this community potluck, that you get today's recipe.

The reason I called it "Potluck BLT Pasta Salad" is not because I am taking it to the potluck, but because it is enough to feed a lot of people, so be prepared.  It could easily be halved, for a smaller portion, though.

Here's your Cast of Characters.

1 - 16 Oz. package of bacon
2 - 12 Oz. boxes of pasta (spiral or shells)
4 Roma tomatoes
1/2 Head sturdy lettuce, like Romaine

1 - 2.5 Oz. package real bacon pieces
2 Tsp. minced garlic
1 Large green onion
1 Cup fat-free half & half
3 Tbsp. reserved bacon grease
3 Cups mayo - not salad dressing
1/4 Cup prepared horseradish
2 Tsp. Lawry's seasoning salt
1 Tsp., each, black pepper, Mrs. Dash Onion & Herb blend and McCormick Perfect Pinch Garlic & Herb blend

Cook pasta according to package directions.  You want them a little firm, not completely tender.  Meanwhile, cut bacon into 1 inch pieces.

Separate and begin cooking on medium heat.

Cook until very crisp.  Drain on paper towels.  Set aside.

Drain pasta and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.  Chop up tomatoes into small chunks and put in the pasta, along with the bacon.

For the dressing, in a food processor, place package of bacon pieces, green onion and garlic.  Pulse until finely chopped.

Add half & half and bacon grease.  Process on high for 30 seconds.

Add remaining dressing ingredients and process on high 1 -2 minutes, until thoroughly blended.  By adding the bacon pieces and reserved grease, the dressing has a real "bacon-y" flavor for an authentic BLT taste!

Reserve 1 cup of dressing, and pour the rest over the pasta.  Stir well to combine.

Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, up to 4 hours.  Just before serving, add lettuce that has been cut into1 inch ribbons.  Don't add before because the lettuce will get wilty.

Stir in remaining dressing.  Serve immediately.