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Are you looking for the perfect summertime recipe to serve as a side dish? Crowd-pleasing mains—like the Rib Connoisseur Sampler, Bacon Wrapped Filet and Chicken, and unbeatable steak burgers—are perfectly paired with pasta dishes easy-to-make and high to impress without giving up the comfort-food cravings of barbecue season.

Whether warm mac and cheese for hearty fare or fresh pasta salad to complement summer foods like watermelon (check out the watermelon salad bonus recipe at the bottom), these surefire hits can be made ahead.


All-The-Cheese Bacon Mac and Cheese

(Serves 4-8)

One of your favorite summertime kids' food updates for grown-up dinner guests with this rich, savory side. This comfort food fun is a decadent delight paired with grilled filet mignon. Serve with a California salad (a fruit, a nut, and a cheese with a vinaigrette) or classic Caesar salad to complete this patio-friendly option. Want to make it kid-friendly? Swap a less pungent, softer white like Fontina or Port Salut for the blue cheese.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 ounces hickory-smoked Burgers' Smokehouse bacon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  • 4 cups elbow macaroni
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 8 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 6 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
  • 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese or soft smoked Gouda
  • Breadcrumbs or potato chips


COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F
  2. Cook bacon until crisp and allow to drain. After cooled, chop or crumble bacon and set it aside.
  3. Boil pasta in salted water with a few tablespoons of oil until al dente. Drain.
  4. Heat (don't boil) the milk in a small pan. In a medium pot, melt butter and slowly whisk in the flour to make a paste (a roux). The butter will begin to brown in a couple of minutes. Slowly whisk in the hot milk and cook until briefly until the roux is thick and smooth. Remove from heat.
  5. While still hot, stir in cheeses. Add crumbled bacon and pasta. Mix well and pour into a baking dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs or crushed potato chips.
  6. Bake 30-40 minutes until bubbling and the top is beginning to brown.


Quick and Easy Sweet Pea Salad

(Serves 6-8)

Fresh herbs can bring to life classic summertime recipes. The dill goes fabulously with family favorites like burgers and hot dogs. For this simple pea salad, try swapping fresh mint for the dill to pair with lighter grilling favorites like pork loin or seafood.


INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 package (16 ounces) bow tie/farfalle pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill
  • 1 pinch white pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 8 ounces frozen green peas, thawed
  • 8 ounces fully cooked lean ham or Canadian bacon, diced
  • 8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 sprigs (for garnish) fresh dill


DIRECTIONS:

  1. For the dressing, mix mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, and dill. Salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Boil pasta in salted water with a little oil until al dente and drain.
  3. Gently stir together the remaining ingredients.



Biggest Best Homestyle Pasta Salad

(Serves 20)

 Long summer days can call for big summer gatherings. This classic pasta salad will span the generations and likely become one of your family's favorite summertime recipes.

 
INGREDIENTS:

Dressing:

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 
Pasta salad:

  • 1 pound elbow, bow tie, or other small pasta
  • 6 slices Crumbled Country Bacon or Cajun Bacon
  • 8 ounces cooked and chopped Ham
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1 cup broccoli heads, chopped
  • 5 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


DIRECTIONS

  1. For the dressing, mix mayonnaise, sour cream, Dijon, vinegar, and sugar. Salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Boil pasta in salted water with a little oil until al dente and drain.
  3. Gently stir together the remaining ingredients.



Bonus recipe: Watermelon Salad

(Serves 8-10)

This summer recipe is simple to make and impressive for grown-up gourmets, creating a refreshing way to transform fun summer foods into fabulous entertaining.


INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 cups seedless watermelon, cubed or balled
  • Feta cheese
  • 1 bunch mint torn into small pieces
  • Juice of 3-4 limes
  • 2 limes worth of zest
  • Honey
  • Salt & white pepper to taste

 

DIRECTIONS:

Mix the lime juice and zest with honey. Next, salt and pepper to taste. Some people prefer to add a little olive oil as well. Add mint.
Pour mixture over watermelon and stir gently. Add crumbled feta and fold again.