Cobb Pasta Salad

Did everyone have a delicious weekend? I sure did. I had a relaxing and sunny Sunday Funday at my dear friend’s house. He fired up the grill and everyone brought their favorite dish. We sat in the yard, catching up and eating great food. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

I knew I wanted to bring a side dish. I considered my trusty Caprese Pasta Salad, but I wanted to bring something a little different. I stood in front of my refrigerator until inspiration struck (and until the “light is on” beep beep beep drove me crazy). I saw that I had most of the ingredients for a Cobb Salad, hmmm, how about a Pasta Cobb Salad?

Done and done. Beep, beep, beep.

In addition to several other things, you’ll need a few pretty Roma tomatoes and almost a pound of cooked, cooled pasta.

IMG_6323                                               IMG_6324I mention that I like the Romas best, as they keep their shape and aren’t too slimy/seedy ((shudders)) in a salad. Since we’re using a thick dressing for this salad, use a small pasta so the dressing will adhere. I used wagon-wheels, fun! But elbows, shells or farfalle work well too (the fun quotient is tbd).

After you’ve cooked and drained your pasta according to the directions, get to chopping.
In a LARGE bowl (seriously, get out the big one),  chop the following and add to the bowl:
6 hard-boiled eggs
1 large avocado
4 Roma tomatoes
1 lb of cooked, drained bacon
6 scallion stalks
3 tbs fresh dill
IMG_6325To this, add cheese. I had Parmesan on-hand, but Bleu or Roquefert is traditional. You could also add two cups of cooked, cubed chicken, which is traditional as well. I had no chicken and frankly, didn’t think the salad needed it, but by all means, add it! Chicken is your perogative.

IMG_6326
Add tons of black pepper and a pinch of salt (the cheese and bacon are quite salty).

Stir to combine. Resist sticking a fork in and just eating this as-is. IMG_6327Go ahead and add the cooked, cold pasta and stir well.  IMG_6333Instead of the traditional Red Wine Viniagrette served with Cobb Salad, I used a healthy pour of Simply Dressed & Lite Ranch dressing. It acted as a binding agent and provided a little more zip. We like zip. 

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I served the salad with additional crumbled bacon over the top; but you could be classic and make rows on top of additional hard-boiled egg, avocado, tomato and bacon. IMG_6335Yes, it was that good. And perfect served alongside the grill-out feast! IMG_6336Smoked meats and bacon-wrapped asparagus bundles.
In addition to other delicious things and lots and lots of wine. We love Sundays. 

Cobb Pasta Salad
12 oz small, shaped pasta (wagon wheels, shells or elbows)
6 hard-boiled eggs*, chopped
1 lb bacon*, cooked, drained and crumbled
3 tbs fresh dill (snipped)
6 fresh scallions, chopped (green and white parts)
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 large avocado, diced
1 tbs Lemon juice
Salt, Pepper
1/2 c. Parmesan Cheese or Bleu Cheese (grated or crumbles)
1/2 c. Ranch Dressing I like Simply Dressed & Light)
2 c. cooked, cold, cubed chicken (optional)
Additional egg, bacon, avocado and tomato for serving (optional)

Notes on Bacon and Eggs: 
Hard-boiled egg method: Fill up a saucepan with cold water. Add eggs, ensure that water is covering them completely. Put the lid on. Set heat to med-high. Once the eggs come to a rolling boil, turn off heat. Leave eggs with lid on for 17 minutes. Rinse with cool water immediately to stop the cooking. You should have perfectly hard-boiled eggs (with yellow centers!)

Crumbled Bacon method: Cover a cookie sheet completely with tin foil. Pre-heat oven to 350. Lay bacon in single layer on cookie sheet. Cook for 15-18 minutes, flipping once. Line a plate with paper towels. Once bacon is crisp, remove each slice from the grease in the pan to the paper towels. Blot each slice dry, and then crumble. This makes for non-greasy, perfect bacon crumbles. Once cooled, roll up greasy tin foil and throw away.

Salad Directions:
Cook pasta according to package instructions for al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking. Allow pasta to drain completely. In a large bowl, add egg, bacon, dill, scallions, tomatoes and avocado (and chicken if using). Add lemon juice to keep avocado from turning brown. Add liberal amounts of black pepper, and a pinch of salt. Stir in cheese, until all ingredients are well-combined. Add cold, cooked pasta and stir well. Pour dressing over the mixture and combine. Taste here, add additional salt and pepper as necessary. Allow salad to chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Serves 10 as a side dish. 

To serve, add additional crumbled bacon over the top or create individual rows of chopped egg, bacon, avocado and tomato.  

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