This Bacon Pea Pasta Salad recipe is a summertime favorite! Loaded with bacon, peas, creamy goat cheese and a basil vinaigrette – NO MAYO! It’s quick and easy to make, can be made in advance and served warm or cold!
Happy (almost) Memorial day weekend to all my fellow Americans!
Since the unofficial start of summer is just around the corner, I figured it is the perfect time to share a summertime staple – pasta salad! Because, ’tis the season for picnics, potlucks and barbecues! And, you can’t (or shouldn’t) have any type of summer soiree without a proper pasta salad!
While purchasing prepared macaroni salad from the deli at the grocery store is fine if you are in a pinch, they are often too heavy on the mayonnaise or watery and lacking in flavor. So, why take the bland route when making your own pasta salad is quick, easy and tastes a million times better!?
Bacon Pea Pasta Salad
This easy pasta salad is flavorful, light, refreshing and made without a drop of mayonnaise!
It’s loaded with corkscrew macaroni, bright, sweet peas; salty, crumbled bacon, pungent shallots and creamy goat cheese. Tossed with a zippy homemade basil vinaigrette, this is a pasta salad you are actually going to want to eat!
This mayo-free pasta salad is simple to make, can be prepped in advance, feed a crowd, it travels well and tastes best at room temperature, which makes it perfect for picnics, potlucks and backyard barbecues!
In case you are someone who lives for a creamy pasta salad, have no fear! This macaroni salad has the perfect amount of creaminess thanks to the rich vinaigrette and flavorful, soft goat cheese!
Can you make pea pasta salad the night before?
You can make pea pasta salad up to 24 hours in advance!
- To make the mayo-free dressing in advance, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Be sure to whisk the dressing well before using.
- To make the bacon pea pasta the night before, add the warm pasta, peas, red onion and half of the goat cheese to a large bowl. Toss with half of the dressing. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. When ready to serve the salad, add in the bacon, chives and remaining dressing. Toss well, season to taste and enjoy!
How long will pasta salad keep in the refrigerator?
Mayo-free pea pasta salad will last, stored in an airtight container, in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.
Can you reheat pea pasta salad?
While reheating pasta salad isn’t advised, you can let the salad sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to remove the chill.
What goes with pasta salad?
Pasta salad is extremely versatile and can be served with a wide variety of foods!
- Grilled meat – Anything from steaks and burgers to beef kebabs and hotdogs pair beautifully!
- Smoked meat
- Pulled Pork
- Grilled chicken – Chicken breasts, kebabs, burgers or chicken sausages.
- Grilled fish and seafood – Salmon, scallops, shrimp
- Sandwiches – Artisan sandwiches, paninis, grilled cheese and finger sandwiches
- Summer soups – Gazpacho, corn chowder, spring minestrone
- Fresh fruit – Watermelon, berries, cantaloupe, honeydew
- Grilled vegetables – Corn on the cob, sweet potatoes, zucchini, broccoli, vegetable kebabs
- Beans – baked beans, black bean salad, three bean salad, white bean salad
- Potato Salad
- Slaws – Coleslaw or Vegetable slaw
- Leafy green salads
- Tomato salad – Caprese or cherry tomato salad
How do you keep pasta salad moist?
Tossing the warm al dente pasta with an olive oil based dressing will not only prevent the pasta from sticking together, it will also keep the noodles moist and flavorful!
Should you rinse pasta for pasta salad?
You should rinse your pasta in cold water when making pasta salad! Rinsing serves two purposes – it stops the cooking process and it prevents the pasta from becoming gummy and sticking together.
Even if you want to serve a mayo-free pasta salad warm, you should still rinse the pasta under cold water for 30 seconds!
This no-mayo bacon pasta salad is flavorful, simple to make and will become a family favorite! It’s perfect for picnics, barbecues, lunches, easy dinner or whenever the craving for pasta strikes!
Until next week, friends, cheers – to summer staples!
The best Bacon Pea Pasta Salad recipe👇
- 12 ounces uncooked Cavatappi or Macaroni Pasta - or other small pasta of choice
- 12 ounces frozen Sweet Peas – thawed
- 4-6 ounces Goat Cheese – crumbled, divided
- 8 Slices Center Cut Bacon – cooked until crisp & crumbled
- 2/3 Cup Red Onion – finely chopped (about 1/2 small red onion)
- Kosher Salt & Ground Black Pepper
- ½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Basil Leaves – packed and finely chopped, plus more for garnish
- 3 TBS Freshly-squeezed Lemon Juice
- 3 TBS Parmesan Cheese – finely grated, plus more for garnish
- 1 TBS Honey
- ½ tsp Dijon Mustard
Cook the pasta and peas: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.* Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions. During the last 1-2 minutes of cooking, add the peas and cook until pasta is just al dente and peas are bright green.
Drain pasta and peas: Rinse under cold water for 30 seconds to stop the cooking process. Gently shake the colander to remove as much water as possible.
While the pasta is cooking, make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dressing. Season with ¾ teaspoon kosher salt and a scant ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper. Whisk until well combined. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.*
Coat the pasta with dressing*: Place the warm cooked pasta and peas in a large bowl. Add in half of the dressing and half of the goat cheese. Toss continuously until the goat cheese coats the pasta.
To serve immediately: Add the bacon, onions and remaining goat cheese to the pasta. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and gently toss until evenly combined. Sprinkle with parmesan and chives. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Enjoy!
To serve later: Add the red onions to the pasta and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Store the remaining dressing in an airtight container. Refrigerate both until ready to serve. When ready to serve, add the bacon and remaining goat cheese. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and gently toss to combine. Sprinkle with parmesan and chives if desired. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Enjoy.
1. Do NOT heavily salt the water for the pasta. While pasta needs a lot of salt when cooking, the peas can become overly salty!
2. Take care to NOT overcook your pasta. Al dente pasta still has a little bite to it which helps ensure the pasta salad doesn’t get soggy.
3. While you need to run cool water over the cooked pasta and peas to stop the cooking process, make sure you don’t allow the pasta to become completely cool. The pasta should be a little warm when you add the dressing and half of the goat cheese. Warm pasta absorbs the vinaigrette better. As well, the warm pasta will gently melt the goat cheese and form a light sauce to coat the pasta.
4. Always taste and adjust things to your liking, this is especially true with the dressing. If you like a sweeter dressing, add more honey. If you like more tang, add more lemon or add a splash of white wine vinegar. If you like a more nutty-salty flavor, add more parmesan cheese. If you want a little heat, add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.
5. The dressing can be made up to 24 hours in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
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