We love a main dish salad for dinner in the summer. Bacon Ranch Garden Salad has it all – meat, pasta, veggies and bacon! It’s perfect for a summer day – make ahead in the morning when the kitchen is cool and it’s ready to serve on the shady deck for the evening meal!
Use your favorite pasta, mini or regular. Hidden Valley has a bacon ranch dressing with their signature creamy ranch flavor, Kraft’s version is more zippy with a hint of vinegar in the base. Add bacon cooked crisp and crumbled or packaged real bacon crumbles to up the bacon flavor. To make Bacon Garden Ranch Pasta salad even quicker and easier, I buy the packaged fresh broccoli that has already been trimmed and cut into pieces. They are usually the same price at my store as the heads of broccoli with less work and less waste for me. One and a half cups is about one third of a ten ounce package. (You’ll have enough left to make Sunny Broccoli Salad another day. 🙂 ) I also don’t measure the other vegetables. I use half of a red pepper, which provides great color contrast to the green onion and broccoli, but you can use orange or yellow if that’s what you have on hand. (Or even green pepper if that’s what is in the vegetable patch at your ranch.) Half of a medium cucumber is about half a cup diced. You can leave the seeds in if they are small. You can add halved cherry tomatoes for color. Or half a cup of frozen green peas and increase the dressing by a couple of tablespoons. I always buy a large (marked way down!) ham after Easter so we have plenty of ham on hand in early summer for all kinds of dishes. We like this salad with ham, but chicken is also good. I can also vouch for it being tasty without either meat!
- 2 ¼ cups pasta such as rotini, shell or farfalle
- ½ cup bacon ranch dressing
- ½ teaspoon dried dill
- 2 Tablespoons bacon crumbles
- 1 ½ cups broccoli florets, cut small
- ½ cup red bell pepper, diced
- ½ cup cucumber, seeded and diced
- 4 medium green onions, sliced (about ¼ cup)
- 1 ½ cups ham or chicken, into small pieces
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fill 3 quart saucepan ⅔ full of salted water and bring to boil.
- Add pasta and return to boil.
- Cook until al dente according to package directions. Do not overcook!
- Drain and rinse pasta with cold water.
- In meantime, mix dressing, dill weed and bacon crumbles in large bowl.
- Prepare broccoli, pepper, cucumber and onions and pour into that same bowl.
- Cut ham or chicken into bite sized pieces and add to bowl.
- Add cooled pasta and mix well.
- Chill 2-3 hours or overnight before serving. If salad seems dry before serving, add another tablespoon of bacon ranch dressing.
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