I know we are transitioning into fall, but I have got to share this awesome pasta salad recipe with you. The first time I had I could not get enough. My mother-in-law made it for my baby shower and I had to make it a few other times during my pregnancy because I just needed it. It is easily adaptable to your taste but this is the version that I absolutely adore.
First, start by cooking the chicken. I like to bake it in a baking dish with a little salt and pepper. For three chicken breasts, I usually pop them in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. I like to make chicken for soups and pasta salads because it stays moist and doesn't have any hard edges to it, you know like when you grill it, love the flavor but there are hard edges. Anyways, cook yo chicken.
Along with a green onion.
I checked the chicken by cutting the biggest piece in half. They were done although it doesn't look like it in this picture.
So I sliced them into bite sized pieces.
Then I baked, yes baked the bacon. Have you tried the baking method to making bacon yet!? Oh my goodness, do it. I hate HATE cooking bacon so this is just perfect for me. Just line a baking sheet (with sides to technically a jelly roll pan) with foil, lay the bacon on the foil in a single layer, pop it into a cold oven, turn the oven to 400 degrees and cook for 12-17 minutes depending on how crispy you like your bacon. Some people say you should use wire racks, I have tried this and both methods have the same result. I hated cleaning the wire racks so I stopped doing it that way.
I am so in love with this pasta salad! It is sweet and salty with lots of different textures! Like I said, feel free to customize it to your liking. I have a feeling if you are into tomatoes, they would be great in this pasta salad as well!
Bacon Pasta Salad
3 chicken breasts
1 pound pasta (I use penne)
1 pound bacon
2 peppers (red, yellow or green), diced
4 green onions, chopped
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cupe mayo
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons vinegar (apple cider or white work)
Reserved bacon grease
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place three chicken breasts in an oven safe baking dish, season with salt and pepper. Put into the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle. Set the chicken aside to cool. Once the chicken is cooled so you can touch it, slice into bite-sized pieces.
Shut the oven off and open to cool.
While the chicken cooks, cook the pasta to the instructions on the box--for al dente pasta. Drain and set the pasta aside for a bit.
Once the oven is cool, line a baking sheet with sides (jelly roll pan) with tin foil and place 1 pound of bacon in a single layer on the tin foil. Note: I don't have a baking sheet big enough for this so I use two. Place the bacon into the oven and turn the oven on to 400 degrees. Cook the bacon for 12-17 minutes or until done to your liking. Once bacon is done, reserve the grease in a dish and crumble the bacon.
Once the bacon grease has cooled, prepare the pasta salad dressing. In a medium bowl, add the mayo, sugar, vinegar, reserved bacon grease and salt and pepper. Set aside for now.
Add the pasta, chicken, bacon (all but 2 tablespoons or so), peppers, onions and cheese (all but 2 tablespoons or so) into a large bowl--not the one you will be serving in as it will get messy when you mix things. Pour the majority of the dressing over everything and stir to coat. Evaluate how coated things are--if you think it needs more moisture, add more dressing. Keep in mind that the pasta will soak up some of the moisture while in the refrigerator.
Once things are combined, you can enjoy it right away or pop it in the fridge. Note that the flavors develop in the fridge as it sits, I would suggest making this a day a head of time. Also, if you have extra dressing and you make it a day before, keep the dressing in a small container and add it the next day if things dried out over night.
When ready to serve, pour into a large serving bowl and top with additional shredded cheese and bacon.
Recipe adapted from my mother-in-law :)