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This BLT pasta salad recipe is the ultimate summer salad and has an irresistible creamy pesto dressing! It’s a fun twist on BLTs that is a must-have at BBQs and picnics.
Try my Creamy Pasta Primavera for another delicious warmer weather pasta dish.
This post is sponsored by our long-term partner DeLallo – thank you for supporting the brands that keep Salt & Lavender cooking! I only work with brands whose products I love. All opinions are my own.
Why you’ll love it
You know what makes this tasty BLT salad so special? Bacon fat as a star ingredient in the dressing! We’ve got all the vibes of a perfect BLT sandwich in hearty pasta salad form including chopped lettuce, crispy bacon, and fresh tomatoes.
Using DeLallo’s signature pesto is a gamechanger to brighten up this easy pasta BLT salad since it’s made with handpicked fresh basil, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano, and pine nuts. It makes an awesome base for the dressing.
What you’ll need
- Pasta – we’re using DeLallo shellbows, which are as fun to eat as they are to say. They’re the ideal sturdy shape to capture all the tasty dressing.
- Bacon – fry up crispy bacon and reserve some of the fat for the dressing!
- Lettuce – for a fresh crunch, use either romaine or iceberg
- Tomatoes – I prefer grape or cherry tomatoes
- Mozzarella – who can resist cheesy goodness?
- Red onion – for added crunch
- Dressing – our homemade dressing has bacon fat, mayo, DeLallo Simply Pesto, white vinegar, sugar, and garlic to be perfectly creamy and balanced
Quality since 1950
- DeLallo’s extensive assortment of Italian goodies like olives and antipasti, tomatoes and sauces, and oils and vinegars are available in grocery stores across USA. DeLallo’s website also ships nationwide!
- They’re a third generation family-owned company that only uses the highest quality ingredients for their affordable products, which range from pantry essentials to totally giftable Italian specialty goods.
How to make BLT pasta salad
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Cook the shellbows according to package directions until al dente, then drain. Meanwhile, cut up the bacon with kitchen shears and fry until crispy. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate, reserving a tablespoon of the fat. Make the dressing in a small bowl.
Once the pasta has cooled, transfer it to a large salad bowl. Add the remaining salad ingredients along with it and then pour the dressing over top. Toss, give it a taste, and season with salt & pepper as needed. Serve right away.
- If you want to make this ahead, make some components beforehand like the dressing, cook the bacon, chop the veggies, etc. and store everything separately in the fridge. I would wait until just before serving to cut up the lettuce and toss the salad for optimal freshness.
- Did you know that not rinsing the pasta after it’s cooked helps the dressing better adhere to it? You can rinse if you’re in a hurry, but I prefer to take a little extra time and let it cool down naturally.
- As with any pasta salad, this recipe is quite flexible, so feel free to adjust ingredients as needed!
What to serve with BLT pasta salad
- Since this pasta salad is filling, you can definitely eat it as a main course! I like to serve it with fresh crusty bread on the side and dip it in a small bowl of olive oil and DeLallo balsamic vinegar.
- Or eat it as a side dish with other summer classics like my Easy Grilled Pork Chops or Ultimate Chicken Burgers.
Leftovers and storage
- This pasta salad is best eaten fresh. The lettuce will wilt over time. If you know you’ll have leftovers, only toss some of the salad together with the dressing and save the rest to assemble later. The dressing will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.
- As with any salad, I don’t recommend freezing any of the components such as the dressing.
If you made this creamy BLT pasta salad, leave me a star rating and review below! Ask any questions you have. You can also find me on Instagram.
BLT Pasta Salad
- 16 ounces uncooked DeLallo Shellbows
- 6 strips bacon cut into small pieces
- 4 cups chopped lettuce romaine or iceberg
- 10 ounces little tomatoes (grape, cherry, etc.) cut into halves
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon bacon fat from frying the bacon
- 1 cup mayo
- 2 tablespoons DeLallo Simply Pesto
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 clove garlic minced
- Boil a large, salted pot of water for the shellbows pasta and cook it al dente according to package directions. Once it's done, drain it and then let it cool in a colander.
- Meanwhile, fry the bacon in a skillet until crispy. Once it's cooked, reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat and add it to a small bowl that you will make the dressing in, then transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate.
- Add the remaining dressing ingredients to the bowl with the bacon fat and stir until smooth.
- Once the pasta is cool, transfer it to a large salad bowl and add the remaining salad ingredients.
- Pour the dressing over top, toss, then taste and season with salt & pepper as needed. Serve immediately.
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