Creamy Pasta Salad with Bacon, Peas, and Bell Peppers

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Creamy Pasta Salad with Bacon, Peas, & Bell Peppers

It seems like I blinked and now the end of summer is here.

(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:

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 2

Creamy Pasta Salad with Bacon, Peas, and Bell Peppers
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: About 8 servings
  • 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
  • ½ medium onion, very finely diced
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons low-fat mayo or Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 shallot, halved and thinly sliced
  1. Cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions; drain and set aside to cool.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 and then transfer it to a large bowl.)
  4. Toss in the pasta, peas, red bell pepper, and shallot in the dressing.
  5. Refrigerate until serving; right before serving toss in the bacon or sprinkle it on top.
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light’s recipe for Macaroni Salad with Bacon, Peas, & Creamy Dijon Dressing.

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  1. says

    Yum, I could do with some pasta, especially as I haven’t eaten it in over a week! A great way of incorporating veges as well. I like that you’ve used reduced fat cream cheese instead of creams.

  2. says

    What is it about peas with pasta that is so darn good? I’m a summer gal all the way…so I never look forward to fall/winter…but fall is actually pretty nice weather wise down here. What a perfect labor day dish

  3. says

    Nooo, I’m not ready to even think about fall yet! Quit it with that kind of talk. We still have plenty of summer left, which is why this pasta salad is so timely. I’m not usually one for creamy versions, but it does look really rich and perfectly indulgent.

  4. says

    This pasta salad looks delicious, love the veggies all together with the creamy sauce…absolutely perfect for the warm weather.
    Thanks for the recipe and hope you are having a wonderful week Faith :)

  5. says

    Just tried this and it is awesome! I had to make a few substitutions related to the contents of my refrigerator, but nonetheless, tasty. I also decided to use Neufchatel cheese instead of regular cream cheese for a little less fat content, and it seems to have been a good choice. Thanks for the recipe! Happy eating :-) ~Peyton

  6. Laura says

    This looked so yummy I made it. When I first made it and tried it it was good, but after I regrigerated it it gelled up like cream cheese instead of being loose and creamy. Suggestions?

    • says

      Laura, You could try one of a couple different things: 1) let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes right before serving, giving it a good stir when you’re ready to serve (15 minutes at room temp shouldn’t hurt it – just don’t leave it right out in the hot sun); or 2) stir in a couple spoonfuls of Greek yogurt, sour cream, or mayo if you want to serve it right from the fridge.

  7. Sara says

    I’ve made this three times (and am about to again for a 4th of July BBQ) and literally had a girlfriend offer to help me move only “if you make that pasta salad for me!”
    It’s incredible, EASY, and delicious! Thanks for sharing!

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