Bacon Pea Creamy Pasta Salad with Lemon Parmesan Dressing
Creamy Pasta Salad loaded with petite peas and crispy bacon is super quick and easy to make (with hardly any chopping) and smothered in tantalizing Lemon Parmesan dressing! This Bacon Pea Creamy Pasta Salad is destined to become a new favorite dinner side or potluck crowd pleaser and couldn’t be any easier! You can make the salad ahead of time and just add the bacon before serving for the perfect stress side everyone will love. You can customize the ingredients with your favorite veggies or leave it perfect - and extra easy - in its simplicity.
Servings 12 servings
- 12 oz. medium shells or other small pasta of choice
- 2 cups frozen petite peas thawed
- 8 oz. thick cut bacon cooked and chopped
Lemon Parmesan Dressing
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup freshly finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon dried basil, dried chives
- 1/2 tsp EACH onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, sugar
Whisk together all of the Lemon Parmesan Dressing Ingredients together in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Dressing is much better if it has at least 30 minutes to chill.*
Cook pasta according to package directions just until al dente. Rinse with cold water and drain. Drizzle with a little olive oil to keep from sticking.
If serving immediately: Add cooled pasta, peas, bacon and dressing to a large bowl and toss until evenly combined.
If not serving immediately (preferable so salad can chill): Add the pasta and peas to a large bowl and toss with half of the dressing once the pasta has cooled (so the dressing doesn’t separate). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. When ready to serve, add the remaining dressing and the bacon and toss until evenly combined.
- You can make the dressing up to 24 hours in advance and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you choose to make it this far in advance, you might want to add a little more lemon before tossing as the lemon will mellow over time – just taste first and then make the call.
- I like to use medium pasta shells in this recipe but any medium or small pasta will work great. Mini Farfalle would be delicious as would macaroni.
- It is important to not overcook your pasta – you want it al dente so it still has a little bite otherwise the pasta salad will be soggy. We want creamy – not soggy.
- To stop your pasta from cooking after it’s removed from the heat, rinse and drain it in cold water then drizzle it with a touch of olive oil to keep it from sticking together.
- It is essential to use thick-cut bacon in this recipe so it retains its meaty texture when covered in the creamy dressing.
- Make sure you are using petite frozen peas as they taste fresh and almost crunchy vs. mushy.
- Unlike vinaigrette dressings, you will want to make sure the pasta is completely cool before mixing in the creamy dressing to ensure the dressing doesn’t separate.
- Feel free to add any other veggies your heart desires! Even chicken would be delicious!