It’s almost Memorial Day, which means summer is upon us! In Wisconsin, people start wearing shorts when it’s 55 degrees outside, so you can’t count on that as an accurate measure of the seasons. What I can count on are my food cravings. Right now, I’m in the mood to eat pasta salads, BLTs, anything on the grill, and ice cream. (Wait, who am I kidding? Ice cream is not just a summer thing.) Is there anything better in the middle of summer than a BLT sandwich with crispy bacon, garden-fresh lettuce and tomatoes, and warm toasty bread? If there is, I don’t want to know about it. I don’t think I could handle that kind of excitement.
We were in the great state of Minnesota last weekend photographing a wedding, so we ate a lot of food that was pretty bad for us. We can’t do restaurants easily with allergies, so we had to rely on a lot of prepackaged goods. Luckily we were able to stay with one of Tom’s relatives who is a great cook, so we had an awesome dinner waiting for us when we got there on Friday! But other than that it was fairly greasy. So this week I was in the mood for something light and fresh. Like a pasta salad. What I really wanted was to walk out into the backyard and pick some Sweet Million tomatoes off the vine, but I’ll have to wait a few more months for that awesomeness.
When I saw a package of beautiful heirloom cherry tomatoes at the grocery store on Monday, it was fate. I thought to myself, “Self? You could make an awesome pasta salad with those tomatoes and some bacon. And make it dairy free for Sweet Pea.” Check and check. This pasta salad has all the great flavor of a BLT, but it’s a little more forgiving for those months when you can’t walk out to your garden and pick a tomato right off the vine. Sweet Pea has eaten this for lunch the past few days and isn’t sick of it yet. I take that as a good sign. That, and the fact that she likes sticking the rigatoni on her fingers and eating them off. Classic.
Besides, what isn’t better with bacon?
BLT Pasta Salad
1/4 c. vegan mayo (or regular mayo, if you’re not egg-allergic)
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1 lb. whole wheat pasta, cooked and rinsed in cold water
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered (depending on size)
1 c. frozen green peas (throw them into the pot with the pasta during the last 3 minutes of cooking time)
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Lettuce for serving
Place all dressing ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and whisk to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Add cold pasta, peas, tomatoes, and bacon to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Serve pasta salad in bowls over lettuce.