Random – Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

19 Jul

I know that, even for me, this is a totally random post topic, but since, at the time of writing, I’m sitting here eating this, and thinking how delicious it is with every bite, I thought I’d share with anyone who is interested how to make HOME MADE Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad… just like Betty Crocker‘s.  (An example of the specific product can be found here)

For those of you who are not regular readers to my blog, please note that I don’t usually post food recipes, so please don’t follow me out of mistaken identity, because when you un-follow me after you realize that I’m not a foodie, I will be broken-hearted and inconsolable (however, feel free to have a look around, and follow me if you like what you see!).

Now, as for my non-US-resident readers, I know that intercontinental market fare is rare indeed, so, I can only hope that you are able to figure out some equivalent of any ingredients not found in your country, assuming it is something you would like to try.

And a final note for all readers:  1) This is NOT good-for-you, healthy food.  This is good stuff.  Tasty stuff.  So obviously, it’s unhealthy 😀 2)If you’re one of those people who cannot cook by ‘feel’ (in other words, you need directions with precisely measured amounts to make something edible) this recipe really won’t be for you, because my measurements are usually along the lines of ‘A lot’, ‘a pinch’, and ‘a handful’.

What you will need:

Pasta!

Pasta!

  • Noodles.  Any kind will do, to be honest, but the box versions usually use the little shells.  Rotini is good, too… any noodle with a decent amount of surface area, but I’d stay away from the ones like Penne  with a large hollow opening, because the insides will either get too much ‘stuff’ in them, or not enough.  Little opening, like macaroni, are fine, though. (This is a great recipe to use up those random remainders of exotic noodles in the pantry!)

The amount of noodles will depend on the amount of pasta salad you want.  A lot of noodles means a lot of the other ingredients, and vice versa, and a lot of the finished product.

  • Mayonnaise.  And I mean real mayo.  Not salad dressing (Miracle Whip = No-no).  REAL mayonnaise.  If you’re making a decent sized bowl of this, say, 6 or 8 servings or so, you’ll likely use 1/3 of the jar, so make sure you have enough before you start.
  • Bacon Bits.  Real ones or fake ones, but, again, the boxed kind uses the imitation kind, so I usually do, too.
Mmmm... Bacon FLAVORED chips...

Mmmm… Bacon FLAVORED chips…

  • Hidden Valley Ranch Dip Mix.  This one I’m not sure how difficult it is to find outside of the US, but it’s basically powdered Ranch dressing.  If you’re making a big batch, grab 2 packets, if not, one will more than suffice.
Okay, so I used my last pack to make this batch, the part I tore off actually has the brand on it, Hidden Valley

Okay, so I used my last pack to make this batch, the part I tore off actually has the brand on it, Hidden Valley

Now, if you’ve had the boxed variety, you know it comes with little slivers of dried carrots and some dried peas.  You also know that these offer no real flavor to the dish, they’re just there to add a bit of color and perceived nutritional value (notice I said perceived, not actual, lol).  These things really aren’t necessary, and will be more of a hassle to include than not.  Plus, if you want it to actually taste like the kind you buy from the store, believe me when I say don’t put them in.

So, first,you will want to mix your… sauce? Dressing?  Whatever you want to call the stuff you’ll be putting on your noodles. I shall henceforth refer to it as ‘Ranchy-Bacon Goodness’. You’ll need to know how big of a batch you’ll be making to figure out amounts, but I usually end up using 1/4 – 1/3 of the jar of mayo. (I also always use way more mayo than the boxes call for, though… 2 tablespoons?  Really?  That’s a joke.)

Put your mayo in a bowl, and add about 1/2 of the ranch dip packet/powder stuff.  Use your noggin here.  If you’ve got a tiny bit of mayo, you’ll use a tiny bit of Ranch, a lot of mayo = a lot of Ranch.

Stir this up and taste it.  If it tastes too much like mayo, add Ranch.  If it tastes too much like Ranch, add more mayo.

Once you’ve got the flavors balanced to your liking, then you want to add your bacon bits.  I always add extra, even to the store-bought kits, so I tend to dump it in until the surface is pretty much covered, but you add however much or little you like.  Just remember, more bacon bits = more bacon flavor! 😉

Put this bowl of Ranchy-Bacon Goodness in the fridge while you move on;

Cook your noodles to the done-ness you prefer, drain, rinse in cold water until cool, and drain again.  Side note:  if you overcook your noodles, they’re going to fall apart when you stir up this pasta salad, so keep that in mind as you’re cooking.

Once the noodles are cool to the touch (the colder the better, this is a cold pasta salad), get your bowl of Ranchy-Bacon Goodness out of the fridge and mix it and your noodles together.  This is the part that you really hope you guesstimated the amount of mayo right, otherwise, you’ll have to doctor it a little more.

Once everything’s all stirred up and evenly coated, you’ll want to have another taste.  If it tastes good, then congratulations! You can put the bowl into the fridge to let the flavors meld (hence why you made the Ranchy-Bacon Goodness before boiling the pasta!) until time to eat!

If, on the other hand, it’s not tasting quite so tasty, you may need to do a little research and repair mission.  Here are some common problems I’ve had:

Not enough Ranchy-Bacon Goodness – make more.

Too much Ranchy-Bacon Goodness – make more noodles.  (While I find it nearly impossible to have too much bacon-anything, it is possible that you may have overestimated the amount of Ranchy-Bacon Goodness your noodles could support, so, if you’ve already put the entire contents of the bowl into the noodles, your only recourse is to make more noodles.)

Not enough Bacon flavor –  add more bacon bits.

Not enough Ranch flavor –  add more Ranch dip powder.

No appetite by the time dinner is served – stop taste-testing the Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad every five minutes… with a serving spoon. ;-D

Now, as a final note to those of you who are being slick and making your pasta salad ahead of time for tomorrow’s barbeque:  In case you were unaware, pasta absorbs moisture.  If you make your pasta salad to PERFECTION the day before, you will be sorely disappointed the next day when you open your chilled Tupperware bowl and find a dried out mess inside.  If this is your plan, I have a secret secret-weapon for you:  make an extra bit of Ranchy-Bacon Goodness and put it in a tightly covered container.  About 30 minutes before serving, add some of your secret stash to the pasta salad to give it a little pick-me-up, to replace some of the moisture it absorbed overnight.  You will thank me for this tip if you’ve never experienced this pasta-not-so-magical trick before, and if you have fallen prey to the pasta gremlins in the past, you’re nodding your head in agreement.

Okay, a FINAL final note:  You can probably add chicken to this if you wanted to, I guess, but I never have.  But I’m sure it will be tasty!

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