I seem to be all about car picnic recipes lately. We are busy right now with cross country and Bible quiz team and piano lessons and voice lessons and, oh…yeah, we home school! Yikes! Maybe I should call it in-the-car school?
But it’s okay! I cooked a bunch of chicken in the crock pot the other day and had enough first-quality stock to make an awesome pot of chicken-noodle soup. I used some of the chicken for that and some more for quick & easy chicken salad. Then I made amazingly easy bacon-cheddar-ranch pasta salad. Did I mention the pasta salad contains BACON? Oh, yum!
The soup made our menu this early in the season because I have a friend who is under the weather and soup was most definitely in order for her. The chicken salad and pasta salad made the menu because they are easy and quick recipes that require very few ingredients, most of which I keep in the pantry and refrigerator anyway, and they’re good for car picnics, which is the story of my life right now.
As a side note, the soup stock was not junk stock, which is something I’d rather use when the stock is not the star of the recipe. But junk stock from the freezer would have done nicely in a pinch! As another side note, I had some of that chicken left over even after a couple of chicken meals. I just portioned it out into smaller containers and stuck it in the freezer to make future chicken-recipe-meals a breeze!
I already shared the quick & easy chicken salad recipe here but can we just chat about the bacon-cheddar-ranch pasta salad? It takes minutes to prepare. It’s beyond easy to put together. It’s family-friendly and filling. And it calls for BACON. What’s not to like? Want to make some bacon-cheddar-ranch pasta salad?
Bacon-Cheddar-Ranch Pasta Salad
- 2 2/3 cups dry whole-wheat rotini
- ¼ cup real bacon bits (Make it homemade or buy the bacon bits, I don’t care, just make sure it’s REAL.)
- ½ cup ranch dressing
- ¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese
What to do:
Cook the rotini according to the directions on the package. Drain the water when the rotini is cooked. Add the bacon, dressing, and cheese to the pot with the pasta. Stir to thoroughly combine the ingredients. Serve hot or cold.
This is great served with some cut-up veggies and ranch dip. It’s also great portioned into individual-sized containers and thrown in a cooler for a car picnic. Don’t forget the forks!
You can amp up the nutrition if you want by adding some chopped veggies to the pasta salad. Ranch dressing already contains onions and garlic, or at least my homemade ranch dressing does, but a little chopped bell pepper or broccoli might be a nice addition. You might need a little more ranch dressing to coat everything depending upon how much of the chopped veggies you add.
Easy – Everything is done in one pot. Quick – Only four ingredients to add and only one pot to wash. Yummy – Bacon. Cheese. Life is good!
A note about the cheese…cheese melts a little when dumped onto hot pasta. This is not an issue for me, but if you prefer your cheese un-melty then by all means cool that pasta down before adding the rest of the goodies. It’ll be good either way!
And a confession: I meant to make CHICKEN-bacon-cheddar-ranch pasta salad but I got in a hurry and forgot to add the chicken. Whoops! But you know what, it was delicious, nobody complained, and everybody left the table with full bellies and smiling faces. So add some cut-up, cooked chicken if you have it and like it and if you remember. Or don’t. It’s delicious with just bacon. Because, BACON!
Do you want your bacon-cheddar-ranch pasta salad with or without chicken?
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