Macaroni Salad with Peas and Pancetta

This Macaroni salad is not your typical summer salad – it’s not laden with heavy mayo and doesn’t weigh you down after eating a serving. This macaroni salad is light and fresh with the addition of the lemon-thyme dressing. The fresh lemon zest, fresh thyme and petite peas make for a lighter, healthier version of your favorite picnic side. There’s also the addition of crisped up pancetta which lends a really smoky flavor to the salad and was a delicious addition that you don’t typically see in these summer staple salads. You can prepare the pasta in advance (I used ditlani pasta instead of macaroni) and the dressing and combine all of the ingredients together just before serving. If you can’t find fresh peas you can easily buy frozen petite peas and simply thaw and mix into the salad.

Macaroni Salad with Peas and Pancetta with Lemon Thyme Dressing
  • ½ box of macaroni or ditlani pasta, cooked according to package instructions and cooled
  • 1 cup frozen petite peas, thawed
  • 4 oz diced and crisped pancetta
  • ¾ cup mayo
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1½ tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or ¼ teaspoon of dried thyme)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  1. Add the cooked and cooled pasta to a large bowl, and add in the thawed petite peas and the diced, crisped pancetta.
  2. To make the dressing add all ingredients listed above starting with the may into the bowl of a food processor, and process the mixture until thick and completely creamy. Store in the fridge until you’re ready to serve the salad.
  3. If making the salad ahead, prepare all components and keep them separate, then toss the dressing with the pasta/peas/pancetta when ready to serve, to keep the pasta salad moist and fresh; keep cold.