Some times it's fun to take a classic recipe and turn it on its side. That's what's happening here, with a pasta salad version of summer's favorite sandwich, the BLT, that unbeatable combination of bacon, lettuce and tomato between two slices of bread.
If one is mindful, it is possible to observe lessons taught and lessons learned in unlikely settings: at the local Target store, say, on an errand-filled Saturday, perhaps.
In the shoe department, with Mom apparently shopping elsewhere, Dad is charged with a restless three-year old. Insisting to be let out of the cart, she squats to examine a low shelf of bedroom slippers, yes pink! She lines them up on the floor with precision, then stands to tuck pudgy toddler toes into each Mom-sized slipper, one by one. Dad watches in silence, then returns the slippers to their rightful shelf, one by one.
In housewares, another Mom shops with a son and daughter. Just for something to do, the bored boy leans into the cart to rummage in his mother’s bag. "Matthew!" Mom snaps. "Out of my purse."
Meanwhile, the girl caresses a box of slickly packaged drinking glasses. "Aren't they pretty, Mom?" Mom eyes the package and runs her hand across the girl’s. "They’re beautiful, Mel. Wouldn't milk taste good in those?"
Which of the three will grow up to be shoppers? Lessons taught, lessons learned.
BLT PASTA SALAD
Time to table: 1 - 2 hours
Makes 6 cups
- 1-1/2 cups salted water
- 3/4 cup mini dry pasta such as orzo or shells
- 8 ounces bacon, diced
- 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise (my favorite is Hellman’s Light)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 2 cups (about 1 pint) grape tomatoes, quartered or 1 - 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 1 sweet onion, diced fine
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced in ribbons
- Salt & pepper to taste
- About 3 cups thin-sliced iceberg lettuce
Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan on medium high. Add the pasta, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook until pasta is just done. Drain and let cool briefly.
While the pasta cooks, cook the bacon in a skillet until crisp, scooping out the fat as it accumulates. (See TIPS.)
While the bacon cooks, whisk the dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, onion and basil. Gently stir in the cooked pasta and bacon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Make ahead this far.) Refrigerate to cool.
Just before serving, stir in the lettuce. Best served the same day.
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