May 29, 2014 at 1:00 am

Simply the Best

Feta, bacon jazz up this pasta salad

This summer pasta salad can be made with or without chicken. (Ben Fink)

Now that the grilling season has kicked off, were all going to be looking for cool dishes to carry to a party or serve on the patio. Pasta salads have gotten a bad rap over the years because theyve seemingly become boring and mostly unimaginative. But heres one that includes all the ingredients I love arugula, bacon and feta cheese that come together in a beautiful dish that can be enjoyed as a side or entree.

The recipe comes from QVCs resident foodie and bestselling cookbook author David Venable, who makes planning a warm-weather meal even more effortless with his exciting recipes.

I like that Venable uses farfalle the bowtie pasta as it make a dish look festive, and its easier for little ones to eat, too. Ive prepared it with the chicken for a main dish and without as a side for grilled salmon, and both were a hit. Use a combination of red and orange cherry tomatoes to make the salad even prettier.

Summer Pasta Salad with Arugula, Bacon & Feta Cheese

Recipe from QVC chef David Venable

16-ounce box farfalle (bow tie) pasta
pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
cup green onions, thinly sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- pound baby arugula (can subsitute baby spinach)
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup cooked or grilled chicken pieces (optional)
cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon rind, grated
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the farfalle pasta according to the package directions. Drain well. Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. Add the bacon, green onions, cherry tomatoes and arugula to the warm pasta. Add feta cheese and chicken (if using) and toss.

Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, lemon rind and mustard in a small bowl. Gradually add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until blended. Whisk in the salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour the vinaigrette into the pasta salad and toss until well coated. Serve warm. Serves 6.

Per serving (without chicken): 583 calories; 29 g fat (7 g saturated fat; 45 percent calories from fat); 64 g carbohydrates; 6 g sugar; 26 mg cholesterol; 451 mg sodium; 17 g protein; 3 g fiber.

Per serving (with chicken): 621 calories; 30 g fat (8 g saturated fat; 43 percent calories from fat); 64 g carbohydrates; 6 g sugar; 45 mg cholesterol; 468 mg sodium; 25 g protein; 3 g fiber.

KLawson@detroitnews.com