The Dog Days of Summer. That brutally hot, hazy time between mid July and mid August.
Fine, the term may have come from when the ancients saw the Dog (Canus) constellation and Sirius (the dog star) appearing in the sky just before the sun rose. Today we know these days as the hottest, laziest days of summer, when even dogs are dead tired. And if dogs are too tired to cook, how are we expected to??
I will admit, my creativity and desire to cook truly start to wane mid July. I really only come back to life mid September. I get bored with grilling the same cuts of meat, making the same old salads, and eating just ice cream. Right now a bunch of you think I’m pathetic. I get it, you all have been waiting for these days, and for you all, I am happy. But let a girl just vent a tad. It’s not that I don’t like summer meals and ice cream. I just get too tired to think about fresh things to make. Add the fact that the kitchen is just that much warmer to be in, and we don’t even have the energy to eat!!
So for times like this, I resort to salads. Not the typical leaf salads. ‘Cuz they just don’t fill us up. No, I mean more like potato salads, or pasta salads. The challenge is to keep them from becoming too thick and goopy with just mayo based dressings. I want some proteins in there, as well as fresh veggies etc. This way it’s a meal that satisfies.
With all the fresh tomatoes hitting the markets, I have been bringing them home just to eat as is. Give me a tomato on toast for brekkie any day. Or a good ole BLT. The king of sandwiches as far as I am concerned!! The perfect balance of salty bacon, sweet juicy tomato, crunchy lettuce, a smear of good mayo, all on toasted sourdough. Swoon!
That’s how this salad came about. Why not make a salad out of my favourite sandwich? But I needed a vehicle to carry it all. And I chose pasta. Farfalle, penne, rigatoni, all would work perfectly in this salad. But how to prepare the tomatoes? Raw? No, I decided that their flavour would be even more intense if I followed my basic recipe for Honey-Roasted Cherry Tomato Pasta. Sauté up some double smoked bacon, and add a few handfuls of baby arugula , and these all would be the BLT portion of the salad. Just to get a bit of sauciness going, and to mimic the mayo on a sandwich, I took some mayo (I used Organic Hellmann’s) and thinned it out with a touch of lemon juice and added some fresh cracked pepper. Toss it all together with the cooked pasta that I had allowed to cool slightly, and a ready made dinner was born.
This salad is perfect warm, room temperature, or right out of the fridge. I know this because that’s how I ate it for lunch today!!
So here’s to the last few days of a Dog’s Summer. Looking forward to it cooling down a little, even in the evenings, just so that I can get a good’s night’s sleep! I have the hardest time sleeping as it is- these days are killing me! 😀 Am I the only out there who isn’t a super Summer person??
BLT Pasta Salad
A perfect pasta salad inspired by the King of Sandwiches, perfect for the heat of summer, but equally at home in the middle of winter. Can be eaten warm or cold.
- 8 oz (1/2 lb) of pasta (farfalle, penne, rigatoni etc) this is approximately 4 cups and a bit, depending on the type of pasta you choose.
- 1 pint (2 cups) cherry tomatoes
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- 2 tbsp runny honey
- 1/2 tsp Aleppo or Espelette pepper
- 8 rashers bacon or more, if you really love bacon!
- 2 cups packed of baby arugula
- 2-3 tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 tsp or up to 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
- extra cracked pepper
Preheat oven to 350F.
Place tomatoes in a baking dish. Toss with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and aleppo or espelette pepper. Drizzle honey over the tomatoes.
Roast for 20 minutes or so, till skins are just starting to burst. A little charring is fine.
Meanwhile sauté up the bacon over medium heat. Remove to a paper towel to drain. Pat dry and when cooled, tear into bite sized pieces.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Put into a large bowl.
When the tomatoes are done, remove to cool. In the remaining oil and any tomato juices place the arugula, toss to coat. This will soften the arugula just enough.
In the bowl with the pasta, add 3/4 of the tomatoes, 3/4 of the bacon, and 3/4 of the arugula.
In a small bowl mix 2 tbsp mayo and 2 tsp lemon juice. Start with this, and test. Adjust to your favourite consistency. I didn't want it too thick, but you may want it a touch thicker, so starting with less lemon is good. You can always add more of either. Add the pepper.
Toss into the salad. Stir to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle the final tomatoes, bacon and arugula on top.
Grind some fresh pepper on top.
This will feed four comfortably as a main meal. It will obviously serve more as a side dish.
It tastes great warm (as a winter dinner) or room temperature for the summer. It even tastes great cold, for those who are raiding the fridge the next day!