When it comes to sandwiches, I find that most people are fans of the classics.
And since this pasta salad is a riff on a familiar handheld favorite, you’d better believe it will be the first thing to disappear at your next party.
You can go ahead and cancel that magician.
It may be considered a side dish, but thanks to the twirly rotini noodles that trap every ounce of creamy dressing, the refreshing pop of tomatoes, crunch of the lettuce, and crisp savoriness of the bacon – it’s sure to be the center of attention.
No matter how many times creative artisans reinvent the sandwich, traditional gems like grilled cheese, PB&J, tuna melts, and of course, the BLT, will always have a place on menus everywhere.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – right? Nonetheless, there’s plenty of room for creative home chefs like ourselves to improve upon these go-to’s. Case in point: this pasta salad.
I love the simple blend of fresh ingredients, with expertly balanced flavors that each offer something spectacular.
While the picky eaters among us might be more inclined to stick with cold and crispy leaves of romaine or even iceberg lettuce, culinary enthusiasts up for more of an adventure might add marinated heirloom tomatoes and thick-cut, cherry wood-smoked black pepper bacon.
Tossing ranch dressing with this pasta salad may seem bizarre at first, but to me, no BLT is ready for its closeup without a quick dip into a waiting cup of ranch dressing.
I’ve always been somewhat of a ranch connoisseur, and I have no doubt you’ll agree with me that the herbaceous, tangy flavors of this tasty dressing complement the traditional components of a BLT beautifully.
You could use any pasta shape that has a built-in sauce trapper like elbows or penne, but I think corkscrew-shaped rotini is the clear winner.
The cool, crisp romaine adds a layer of leafy freshness while the cherry tomatoes deliver a pop of sweetness. Rich chunks of mild cheese add a creamy texture, and not that I need to convince you that bacon is the bomb, but the salty bits scattered throughout pull everything together.Print
Salty bacon meets crunchy romaine lettuce and juicy cherry tomatoes in this BLT pasta salad with creamy ranch dressing.
- 1 cup ranch dressing
- 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons minced green onions, green tops only
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 8 ounces rotini pasta (about 2 cups uncooked)
- 2 cups roughly chopped romaine lettuce (about 5 ounces)
- 1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 cup cubed mild cheese (such as Swiss, Monterey Jack, or cheddar)
- 1/2 cup chopped cooked bacon (about 5 ounces), divided
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the ranch dressing, yogurt, mayonnaise, green onions, parsley, dill, salt, and pepper to combine.
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and add to the bowl with the dressing. Toss the pasta with the dressing until thoroughly coated.Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
- Just before serving, fold the lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and half of the bacon into the pasta salad. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, top with the remaining bacon, and serve.
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Salad
Keywords: BLT, pasta, salad, bacon, lettuce, tomato, ranch, dressing
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Gather, Measure, and Prep Ingredients
Everything for this salad can be prepped the day before and assembled when you’re ready to serve it, just remember that the dressed pasta needs to be chilled for at least an hour before serving.
Before you start, you should also review our steps to making the perfect salad, so you are prepared and ready to make the best dish possible!
If you cook the bacon the day before, it won’t be as crispy, but you can undercook it slightly by baking it in the oven and then crisping it up in a pan, or by placing it on a sheet pan, covering it with foil, and reheating it in a 350°F oven for about 8-10 minutes before chopping and adding it to the salad.
If you’re making homemade ranch, start by prepping that first.
Mince the green parts of the green onions. Save the white sections for another use.
Chop the parsley and dill, chop the romaine lettuce, and halve the tomatoes.
Measure the bacon, and feel free to use a pepper-flavored option if you prefer.
Measure the salt, black pepper, and pasta.
Cube and measure the cheese. A smoked cheese like provolone or smoked mozzarella would also be a nice complement to the meat.
Step 2 – Make the Dressing and Cook the Pasta
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Place the ranch dressing, yogurt, and mayonnaise in a large mixing bowl.
Add the green onions, parsley, dill, salt, and pepper. Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together until thoroughly combined. Set aside on your counter as you cook the pasta.
Cook the pasta to an al dente texture according to the package instructions, for about 7 minutes. Drain the noodles and then add them to the mixing bowl with the dressing.
Step 3 – Mix the Dressing with the Pasta, Chill, and Cook the Bacon
Toss until thoroughly combined, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon. Add the slices to a large skillet or bake it in the oven if you are preparing it in advance. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook, flipping once, until each slice is browned and crispy. This should take about 5 to 7 minutes.
Set the cooked slices aside on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Once the slices are cool enough to handle, chop them into bite-size pieces. Chill baked bacon overnight and wait to chop until after re-crisping it just before serving.
Step 4 – Fold in the Remaining Ingredients
Remove the dressed pasta from the fridge. Add the lettuce, tomato, cheese, and half of the bacon to the bowl.. Toss to combine.
Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
Top with the remaining bacon and more freshly cracked pepper if desired.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
Let’s talk about the L
If adding lettuce to pasta salad sounds a little weird, I get that. But as long as you use a crisp variety, it will hold its own in the mix and bring brightness to every bite.
Serving this salad on a bed of peppery arugula is another tasty option that will be beautifully balanced by the sweet tomatoes. Fresh kale or spinach work nicely here too.
What leafy green will you reach for to add that verdant note to your BLT pasta salad? Share your suggestions in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
All hail the B in the BLT! On the search for more bacon-centric dishes? Give these tasty recipes a try:
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Ashley Martell on May 23, 2015. Last updated on July 8, 2022.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”