Welcome to the wonderful world of cold pasta salads. Have you been chowing down on them all summer like I have? This is a recipe you must try tonight because I already know it will be a hit. I used to work as a waitress while I was in college and the chicken sandwich with bacon and ranch dressing was a very popular item on our menu. I decided to somewhat replicate this salad with the flavors of the sandwich for some guys I was cooking for.
My boyfriends nephew just bought a new house last month. While the boys were busy working on the house last week, I whipped up this summer meal for them that I knew would be a hit. It has been very warm the past two weeks in Western Washington. It has lead me to live off of a variety of salads. I love this salad because it has big chunky bites. I also discovered that I love this buffalo ranch dressing . In the past, I have made my own by adding Frank’s hot sauce into regular ranch dressing but now Wish-Bone has made it for us. It is a mild version so I used it in the dressing for this salad.
You’re going to want to make this salad ahead of time and serve it when it is really cold. I cooked the pasta a day ahead of time. There are a few tricks to making pasta ahead of time. First, after the pasta has been cooked in the water and you drain it, cover the pasta with about 1/4 cup of oil or 1/4 of the dressing you want to use. Then lay the pasta flat on a baking sheet for about half an hour to let it cool before popping it in the fridge. By laying the pasta flat, it will cool faster and stick together less. When the pasta is cool, cover it completely with plastic wrap or put it in a container with a lid so that the pasta doesn’t dry out in the fridge.
When I made this pasta salad, I wanted a noodle that would really allow the flavors to soak into the noodle. I chose a small shell shape because I like how the dressing and some bacon bits kind of get inside that shell and gives you that extra bite of flavor with each bite. There are other shapes of pasta that would work here too. Sometimes its a matter of preference, or just use what you have on hand. You do want a larger, thicker noodle though. Since the chicken and veggies are cut thicker, a a larger noodle seems to fit the recipe a bit better.
This is a good salad to use rotisseri chicken, canned chicken or leftover roasted poultry. I have used roasted turkey breast in this salad before too. Turkey bacon is a good swap in this salad too if you don’t care for the pork. You can certainly use gluten free pasta if you prefer too.
A vegetarian swap in here would certainly be field roast and or some of the vegetarian chick’n. I like both the Gardein brand and Quorn brand. Also you can try this seitan from pacific. There are some good soy bacon swaps as well like these plant based bits from Organic Matters.
Tag @EmeraldMenus if you make this salad. Let me know how you loved the buffalo ranch dressing. 🙂
Buffalo Chicken, Bacon And Ranch Pasta Salad
A salad version of the sandwich with a few veggies and delicious dressing.
- 2/3 cup ranch dressing
- 2/3 cup buffalo ranch dressing or, double the ranch & add a few drops of hot sauce
- 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup small diced red onion
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/3 cup mayo
- 2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/3 cup pickle relish
- 2 ribs celery, cleaned and small diced
- 10 strips bacon cooked and chopped
- 3 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 1/2 cup shredded carrot
- 1 lb cooked pasta- large shape
In a large bowl, add all of the ingredients for the salad dressing and mix well with a large whisk and set aside the fridge to chill.
Cook the chicken, pasta and bacon if you need to. I like to use rotisserie chicken for this. Cook the pasta and bacon according to package directions. Cook the pasta slightly under the recommended time. You do not want the pasta to be too soft. It should still have a chew to it.
Chop the celery and both the chicken and the bacon. Add all of these ingredients along with the pasta, and shredded carrots to the salad dressing.
Gently, mix all of the pasta salad ingredients together and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours minimum before serving. This is a salad that is best served very cold. Enjoy!
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