(Can I let you in on a little secret? I’m looking forward to summer ending. Fall — ahem, Autumn, which happens to be my niece’s name — is my favorite season for a million reasons, not least of which are chilly temps, cozy sweaters, and warm mulled cider, but I am also head-over-heels in love with winter. And yes, when I tell people that, the most common question I get is Really? Lol, yes, really.)
With Labor Day next weekend, I know a lot of people are looking for new twists on picnic food, and this salad is a great way to switch up your normal pasta salad routine.
Here are a few more picnic salad ideas:
- Easiest Pasta Salad
- Poached Salmon Pasta Salad
- Roasted Vegetable Couscous Salad
- Roasted Veggie Potato Salad
- Succotash-Style Pasta Salad with Roasted Garlic Dressing
- Sweet Mango Chili Shrimp Salad
- Wheat Berry Salad with Fruity Vinaigrette
- White Bean-Roasted Red Pepper Salad
If you have a favorite picnic food to share, feel free to link to it in the comments below!
Creamy Pasta Salad with Bacon, Peas, & Bell Peppers (Adapted from Cooking Light’s recipe for Macaroni Salad with Bacon, Peas, & Creamy Dijon Dressing)
Serves about 8
8 oz pasta (I used gemelli, but you can use any shape you like)
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 slices turkey bacon, diced
4 oz reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 medium onion, very finely diced
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons low-fat mayo or Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 shallot, halved and thinly sliced
Cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions; drain and set aside to cool.
Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat; add the bacon and cook until crispy, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil.
Whisk together the cream cheese, onion, mayo or Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, thyme, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until smooth. (Alternatively, process everything together in a food processor until smooth.) Toss in the pasta, peas, red bell pepper, and shallot in the dressing. Refrigerate until serving, and toss in the bacon (or sprinkle it on top) right before serving.