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1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup Panko (Japanese-style) breadcrumbs
12 slices flavorful smoked bacon
3 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1/2 cup Cabot 2% Plain Greek-Style Yogurt or Cabot Plain Greek-Style Yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
8 ounces Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar or Seriously Sharp Cheddar, grated (about 2 cups), plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1-2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 medium clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Optional extras: sliced green onions, chopped Italian parsley, slivered fresh basil, raw fresh corn kernels, diced fresh tomatoes, diced bell peppers, thinly sliced romaine lettuce
1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and stir and shake in pan until golden, about 1 1/2 minutes; immediately scrape into small bowl and set aside.
2. Add bacon to skillet and cook until crisp; transfer to paper towels to drain, then crumble or chop and set aside.
3. In large pot of boiling salted water, cook macaroni according to package directions until just tender. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool.
4. While macaroni cooks, combine yogurt and mayonnaise in blender; add cheddar, vinegar, hot sauce, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper; blend until the consistency of mayonnaise and nearly smooth, stirring and scraping down side of container as needed to help ingredients “liquefy”. (Salad may be prepared ahead up to this point: refrigerate dressing and other ingredients separately, combining just before serving.)
5. In large bowl, toss together macaroni, cheddar dressing and reserved bacon in large bowl, mixing well. Serve topped with additional cheese and reserved toasted breadcrumbs. Surround with bowls of optional extras as desired.