This Warm Pasta Salad Recipe with Caramelized Leek, Bacon, and Goat Cheese is an elevated pasta salad that’s worthy of entertaining with. Crispy beef bacon, caramelized leeks, mushrooms, and garlic give it great depth of flavor. White wine brightens it up, and creamy goat cheese adds rich creaminess!
Pasta is one of those things that usually gets forgotten in my kitchen. I didn’t grow up eating much pasta. It just wasn’t one of my mom’s favorites, and we all know we get to eat what the cook likes, lol!
And these days I try to keep my carbs down, so it isn’t a dish that’s on my radar very often. But recently I had an inspired idea for a warm pasta salad full of vegetables and refined flavors and I knew I had to put pasta back on the menu!
The sophisticated flavor profile of this pasta salad makes it a good option for entertaining. But fancy or not, it's still pasta salad, so it's easy enough to make on a weeknight!
The Best Warm Pasta Salad Recipe
This is probably unlike most other pasta salads you’ve had!
This Warm Pasta Salad Recipe with Caramelized Leeks, Bacon, and Goat Cheese is unique in a few different ways:
- It's served warm instead of cold.
- It boasts the addition of quite a few veggies to bump up the nutrition!
- This pasta salad has a fairly refined flavor profile going on.
Caramelized leeks add subtle sweetness and depth of flavor, beef bacon lends smokiness, dry white wine adds complexity. And crumbled goat cheese on top adds creamy texture and tangy, bright flavor.
Pro Tip: You could add a generous handful of artichoke hearts to this Warm Pasta Salad Recipe to get in another vegetable if you like.
How to Store Warm Pasta Salad
Store this in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. If possible, it's best to wait to add the goat cheese, crisped bacon, and fresh parsley until right before serving.
You can reheat this Warm Pasta Salad on the stovetop. Add a splash of water or chicken stock if it looks dry.
Variations on This Recipe
- Make it vegetarian. Omit the bacon and add ½ teaspoon smoked sweet paprika.
- Bump up the veggies. Roast or steam up to 3 cups of chopped broccoli or cauliflower and add that. Or chop 1 pound of asparagus into 1-inch pieces, steam or saute it, and add that.
- Make it a full meal. Add grilled or roasted chicken to increase the protein for a filling meal.
Pasta Salad FAQs
Is Pasta Salad Hot or Cold?
Many pasta salad recipes are served cold, especially if they have a mayonnaise-based dressing. However, this pasta salad is served warm.
Do You Rinse Pasta for Pasta Salad?
Yes! When making pasta salad, I cook the pasta to al dente and then pour it in a sieve and rinse it under cool running water to cool it down fast so it stops cooking. I want to keep my pasta al dente!
What Goes Good with Pasta Salad?
This Warm Pasta Salad Recipe is a delicious side dish paired with any of the following:
More Pasta Recipes to Try
- Oven Roasted Tomatoes Recipe with Pasta, Pine Nuts, and Mozzarella
- BLT Pasta Salad Recipe
- Pasta Carbonara
- Creamy Mushroom Chicken Pasta
- Mediterranean Pasta Salad Recipe
Warm Caramelized Leek Pasta Salad with Bacon and Goat Cheese
- 8 ounces penne pasta cooked to al dente according to the package directions
- 4 slices beef bacon chopped (add 2 tablespoons avocado oil if using turkey bacon)
- 2 leeks white and light green parts only, thinly sliced and rinsed well
- 1 cup button mushrooms quartered
- 1 medium red bell pepper thinly sliced
- 2 large cloves garlic minced
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 ½ ounces crumbled goat cheese
- Fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
- Add the beef bacon to a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook until crispy, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil, leaving the drippings in the pan.
- Add the leeks and mushrooms to the pan the bacon was cooked in, and cook over medium-high heat until the vegetables are softened and just starting to turn golden brown in spots, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the bell pepper and garlic and cook over medium-high 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Add the wine, salt, black pepper, and al dente pasta. Turn the heat up to high and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes.
- Transfer the pasta salad to a serving dish and top with the crumbled goat cheese, crisped bacon, and fresh parsley.
- Serve warm.
- Artichoke Hearts: A generous handful of artichoke hearts to this pasta salad is a delicious addition!
- Pasta Cooking Tip: Once you cook the pasta to al dente, pour it in a sieve and rinse it under cool running water to cool it down fast so it stops cooking. You don't want it over-cooked! The pasta will soften a bit more as it cooks with the wine.
- Storage: Store this in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. If possible, it's best to wait to add the goat cheese, crisped bacon, and fresh parsley until right before serving.
- Reheating: You can reheat this Warm Pasta Salad on the stovetop. Add a splash of water or chicken stock if it looks dry.
This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on September 1, 2017. I updated it with more information on September 2, 2021.