Dinner has to be ready and on the go

This is the time of year when it’s necessary to plan on the easy meal.

With at least one activity every night of the week, we don’t have time to cook when we get home from work. Most of the time we rush home and have to be out the door again in a few minutes.

Consequently, we usually eat dinner very early — before 5 p.m. — or late — like after 7.

With the spring sports and the warm weather hopefully here to stay, I’m relying on make-ahead meals like I did last year at this time.

One of the best things that can be served quickly or even taken on the road and eaten on a blanket or in a chair watching a game are hearty cold salads. I have a taco salad, Southwest chicken salad wraps and a ham tortellini salad in my regular rotation and am always looking for new winners. (Feel free to share with me here or at jgilkay@postcrescent.com.)

And now I have a new one to add to the bunch. I made Caesar BLT Pasta Salad late last night for us to eat today. I already can tell it’s going to be a winner.

Caesar BLT Pasta Salad
(adapted from Food Network)

16 oz. mini farfalle (bowties)
1 lb. bacon (I use turkey bacon)
1 pint sugar plum tomatoes, sliced
1 c. Gardini’s Caesar dressing
1 c. sliced black olives
1/2 c. Parmesan
1 clove garlic
1/4 c. olive oil
Juice of one lemon
4 c. chopped romaine lettuce

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water to al dente, then drain. (I cooked mine the night before and tossed it with the olive oil and lemon juice and marinated it in the refrigerator overnight.) This keeps the pasta from sticking together.

Cut the bacon into bite size pieces and cook in a large skillet until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Discard the bacon grease; leaving just a tablespoon or so in the skillet. Add the sliced tomatoes and garlic and toss in the skillet for just a couple of minutes to cook the garlic and soften the tomatoes. Then let sit until cool.

Since the pasta is nice and cold from being refrigerated overnight; just mix in the Caesar dressing, bacon, tomato mixture, olives and Parmesan, then toss in the chopped lettuce at the end and it’s ready to go!

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