I’m always looking for fun summer salads. The kind that is perfect to serve at home and/or take to a cookout or party. This Avocado Tomato Bacon Pasta Salad has a little Southwestern flair and fits the bill. Best of all, the fabulousness just doesn’t stop with this Avocado Tomato Bacon Pasta Salad.
This recipe is fun because it’s so easy to morph on a whim to suit yourself. You can easily start out with a base of avocado & tomato and then let it grow from there. Add bacon, red onion, a little cheese, and good sturdy lettuce and you’ve got over the top deliciousness! Then if you want to go a step further, and why not? A little pasta!
About Avocado Tomato Bacon Pasta Salad:
We thought this was a beautiful combination of flavors and loved that it came about with what I just happened to have in my fridge and pantry. The real key is the dressing, though! It’s a little intense, to carry the flavor and absolutely fresh, summery flavor. It’s just a simple, vinaigrette style dressing with lime for the Southwestern vibe, oil to carry the flavor, and a few red pepper flakes for some zest.
You can take that casual Southwestern vibe and really make this salad your own. Start with the base of the tomatoes (I used cherry but chunks are great, too) and avocado along with the dressing and build from there. Maybe you’d like to add in or leave something out to suit your whim, your dietary needs, or even what you might have in the fridge. There really can be no wrong.
The pasta, of course, is inexpensive and helps balance the cost of some of the pricier ingredients and we love it for the way it absorbs that vinaigrette becomes so flavorful, but even that is optional in this pasta salad! Great additions would be just about anything with a Southwestern flair. Corn or black beans are so classic and will be great in this salad. Black olives, too, are a fab addition. Maybe you’d like to sub out the cheese with another favorite? Or parsley for the cilantro if you’re a hater!
What to Serve this Salad with:
When I made this salad the other day, I thought it was a beautiful pairing with my Southwestern Queso Burgers. See, those burgers had all kinds of toppings and a Southwestern lean already, but no standard burger toppings to speak of. But this salad does! I mean c’mon, it has bacon, tomato, lettuce & cheese! (no pickles or ketchup, tho, thank goodness!)
But this salad would go so well with many foods. I’d love it with any casual summer (or really anytime) meal. It would be fabulous with any Southwestern menu and just about anything classic American and I think it has an affinity for anything grilled, too. Chicken breasts, burgers, and so on.
Making Avocado Tomato Bacon Pasta Salad:
If you want to make this salad ahead, make the salad, layer the ingredients with the pasta and sturdier items on the bottom, the cheese and bacon on top. Before serving, add in the delicate ingredients like the avocado and the lettuce and drizzle with the vinaigrette. And of course, don’t expect a long “shelf life” in the fridge with this salad.
You will need to start with the bacon & pasta first since they have to cool before being added to the salad.
- I love the corkscrew shapes of pasta in salads They look beautiful and all that extra surface area ensures they absorb more flavor but just about any short pasta will do. There’s not much pasta, about 4 ounces or a quarter of a pound so this is a great way to use up any bits you might have. Just cook it al dente!
- As far as the bacon, you can chop and cook it in a pan but these days I almost always toss it in the oven unless it’s summer heat/humidity is unbearable! It’s about 20 minutes to make my Buffet Style Oven Bacon and it eliminates all the mess and tending.
One thing I love about salads like this is that they are a great way to use up small bits of something you might have in the fridge. Think of them if you happen to have a little leftover pasta, beans, corn, etc. Just toss it in. Or if you don’t and are cooking up pasta, make extra for another pasta salad or dinner in the next few days. The same with the bacon…maybe you’d like BLTs or are planning another recipe that uses bacon. Cook it now and it will be at the ready.
Saving Money on Avocado Tomato Bacon Pasta Salad:
Bacon, before it’s recent popularity used to be dirt cheap but no longer. Usually, bacon will be on sale right before any holiday (Click on Win at the Grocers to see what will be on sale prior to any holiday) so watch for specials. Since it takes so little room, it’s an ideal freezer item. When using bacon in a recipe where it will be chopped or diced, you can slightly thaw and slice right through the package in slices, top to bottom, and refreeze what’s not needed.
Avocados can be crazy expensive or more reasonable. A great sale price is usually a signal to pick them up and make a recipe rather than the other way around. When the price is great I’ll pick some up at various stages of ripening to last the current week and into the next. If they’re bagged, examine closely; they may or may not be a great deal and they may not all be in great shape. Aldi and your buyer’s club usually have great prices.
In season in the winter months, here, limes might go on sale now and then but are more often found at a discount bagged, The bagged may not be the best quality and sometimes are in bags that have a greenish tint, making them look better than they are. Check carefully and compare before buying. Ignore slight color variations but avoid brown/dry looking rind and weigh several in your hand, then choose the heaviest. They’ll have the most juice. To get the most out of your lime, grate and freeze or dry the rind if not using, then roll the lime on the counter, pressing heavily or microwave for about 30 seconds (or both) to get the most juice. Aldi usually has great prices.
When shopping for lettuce your best option is by the head or bunch, especially if it’s on sale. Bagged lettuce runs 4 to 10 times the amount when compared per pound. Even if on sale and even if the dressing and add/ins are included, bagged lettuces are still not a great deal. There’s a reason the producers don’t bag in pound packages; it makes the cost comparison difficult.Print
Avocado Tomato Bacon Pasta Salad
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x
- Category: Salads
- Cuisine: American
- 4 ounces of any corkscrew type pasta or other fun shapes, cooked al dente
- 1/4 pound (4 slices classic cut) bacon, cooked and diced
- 2 to 3 avocados, firm but ripe, 1″ chunks
- 2 limes, juiced and divided (about 3 to 4 tablespoons)
- 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 red onion, sliced into half-moons
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro or parsley
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups sturdy lettuce, like the crunchier parts of romaine or a sturdy mix
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan (or other hard cheese)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
- a pinch of red pepper flakes
In a small bowl, add avocado and about a tablespoon of lime juice. Toss gently to coat and set aside. In a large bowl add the pasta, bacon, cherry tomatoes, red onion, cilantro or parsley, lettuce, and Parmesan. Drizzle with the remaining lime juice and the olive oil and add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine. Add the avocado and any lime juice in the bowl and gently mix in.
I’ll be sharing at Fiesta Friday #333 this week. If you’d like to see a collection of the week’s best posts by other bloggers, follow the links.