I make this pasta all year long, every few weeks. It’s perfect for a quick lunch or dinner–especially if you don’t want to heat up a hot summer house any further by turning on a stove. It would be perfect to bring to a summer gathering as it’s pretty everyone-friendly. Everyone in my family loves it so it’s a go-to quite frequently.
You can very easily modify it to your taste by changing the base ingredients (sub in sour cream for the mayo or use extra mayo with ranch dressing-type spices if you don’t want to use ranch dressing) and sneak in any veggies you’d like. Try cherry tomatoes, or broccoli, or cukes if your family likes them. Substitute ham cubes for chicken for an entirely new salad!
But it’s a great foundation recipe, and I tend to make it this way pretty much every time.
Granted, you can make it ahead and let the flavors “marry,” but I tend to always make it last minute and no one has ever complained.
Begin by boiling 1 lb. of pasta in salted water until al dente. If you are making it ahead, drain the pasta and let it cool. If you’re in a hurry, give that pasta a quick, cold shower to cool it off.
While the pasta cooks, fry up four slices of bacon until mostly crisp.
In a large bowl, mix together one of the following combinations:
Either 3/4 c. mayo, 1/4 c. sour cream, and 2 T. Ranch powder
OR 3/4 mayo and 1/4 c. prepared ranch dressing
Add to that 1 tsp. brown mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
Pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/3 c. chopped celery
1 c. cheddar cheese cut into small cubes
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 c. frozen peas (blanched)
Add in 1-2 cups of chicken. Your choice how you cooked it. You could use this easy, full of flavor recipe. You can use shredded rotisserie chicken. You can use yummy, leftover grilled chicken. Don’t tell, but I’ve definitely used canned chicken, too.
Now, add in your cooled pasta. Don’t put it in hot or it will melt the cheese. Yuck.
Mix everything together well, and garnish with the crumbled, cooled bacon. Serve with lemon pepper and some delicious muffins.
- 1 lb. pasta
- ¾ c. mayo
- ¼ c. sour cream + 2 T. Ranch powder
- OR ¼ c. prepared ranch dressing
- 1 tsp. brown mustard
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ⅓ c. chopped celery
- 1 c. cheddar cheese cubed
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- ½ c. frozen peas, blanched
- 1-2 c. chicken
- 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- Boil pasta in salted water and cook according to package instructions.Drain and let cool.
- Fry up four slices of bacon until crisp. Drain.
- In a large bowl, mix one of the following combinations: ¾ c. mayo, ¼ c. sour cream, and 2 T. ranch powder OR ¾ c. mayo and ¼ c. prepared ranch dressing.
- Also add in mustard, salt, pepper, garlic powder, celery, cheddar cheese chunks, lemon juice, and peas. Mix well.
- Add in chicken.
- Mix the cooled pasta in as well as the bacon either into the pasta or as a garnish.