Summer is winding down, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy the time we have left. We are taking advantage of the warm weather we’re still having with cabin weekends, picnic lunches and poolside snacking. So many opportunities for tasty recipes! In fact, this Friday is the annual Girl’s Luncheon Pool Day at my parents’ house - when all of the ladies on my mom’s side come together to relax in the sun, visit and eat, eat, eat! When it comes to seasonal celebrations like these, I tend to gravitate toward pasta salads because they are so nice and cool on a hot day. Plus, I love the fresh flavors and endless varieties. But, a bonus for the cook is that they are ideal to make ahead (perhaps the night before) so the flavors can blend together. Sounds like the perfect picnic contribution from a working momma like me!
I have a few pasta salad standbys, but I got excited when I saw this Bacon Ranch Macaroni Salad recipe. Some people are turned off to pasta salads because they aren’t mayo fans. But just about everyone loves Ranch, right? Plus, with bacon and tomato as core ingredients in this mix, it practically sounded like a BLT salad. It was sure to be a winner!
The recipe is pretty simple: start by cooking your pasta according to the package directions. The ring noodles cook quickly, so they will be ready in no time.
While the noodles are boiling, wash your veggies and chop them up.
A tip: to easily seed your cucumber, trim each end off, then slice it into long quarters (like a big pickle spear). One at a time, set a slice on its end and cut on the diagonal, so all the seeds are trimmed right off.
Measure out your onion (important since I chopped WAY too much), cucumber and tomato. Add the veggies to your bowl of pasta rings. Bag up any leftovers to use in a garden salad later this week.
Season with the salt and pepper, then add your ranch dressing.
Grab your fresh basil and give it a rinse.
Lay several leaves on top of one another and roll them up. This makes for easy chopping – either with a knife or kitchen shears.
Mix all of the ingredients together.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place the mixture in the fridge while you get your last two ingredients ready.
Here’s where I did a little multi-tasking. I like to bake my bacon, so I don’t have to keep an eye on it – plus it makes for nice, flat bacon strips. To do that, just preheat your oven to 350° F. Cover a pan (one with a lip!) with some aluminum foil. This will catch all of the grease and make for easy clean up. Line the pan with a layer of bacon and place it in the oven.
For this recipe, we want crispy bacon, so I set a timer for 15 minutes, and then checked the bacon every few minutes from there on until it was as crunchy-looking as I wanted.
Remove the bacon strips from the pan and place it on a plate lined with paper towels. This will help soak up the grease. Allow the bacon to cool.
While the bacon is cooking, take care of your eggs. To hard-boil them, simply place the eggs in a small sauce pan. Add cold water until the eggs are submersed and an extra inch or so of water is sitting above them.
Bring the water to a rolling boil, then remove pan from heat and cover. Set a timer for 12 minutes. When the time is up, drain the hot water off the eggs and cover them with cold water to stop the cooking.
When the eggs are cool, tap each egg on a cutting board (or similarly hard, clean, washable surface), to get the cracking started. Then roll the eggs to crack them the rest of the way. Peel off the shell, rinsing as you go so all the tiny shell bits are cleaned off.
When the bacon and eggs are cool, you can chop them up.
Gently fold the eggs into the pasta salad and return the bowl to the fridge. Refrigerate the salad for at least two hours so the flavors have time to blend.
Put the bacon in a plastic bag and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve your salad.
It’s time to eat, you say? Put the finishing touches on your Bacon Ranch Macaroni Salad by mixing in the bacon crumbles and sprinkling some on the top for good measure. You can even garnish the salad with a little sprig of basil. And now you have a pasta salad that will stand out in the picnic spread!
Make Bacon Ranch Macaroni Salad for your next family event or summer picnic, then rate and review the recipe.