Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

Known as a Suddenly Salad copycat, this pasta salad made with small shell pasta, ranch seasoning mix, peas, carrots and mayonnaise, is a well loved dish for any potluck, church supper or other gathering.

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

This recipe for Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad is pretty much the same one floating around the internet everywhere for what they call a Suddenly Salad copycat, with a few of my own twists of course! I honestly used to love that boxed stuff when I was younger - so quick, easy and good - but it's been so long since I actually had pasta salad out of the box {not that there's a thing wrong with that}, that I can't even tell you if this tastes anywhere near the original. It is definitely another good one to add to the repertoire of pasta salads here, even if it's not so photogenic.

I didn't have any of the tiny shell pasta in the house when I decided to make this, but the regular medium sized shells will work fine too, as will rotini, macaroni, or other small pastas. If you have access to the Le Sueur peas, use those, but they are very tender so don't add them until the end after you've given everything else a real good mix, otherwise they'll mash up. You can certainly substitute other peas, including frozen.  As with most pasta salads, there are lots of add-ins you can use - celery, black olives, red onion, green or red bell pepper, a seeded and chopped tomato, just to name a few, and of course, all kinds of shredded cheeses - there really are endless possibilities. If you do want to add in tomato, clean, seed and chop it and add it right before serving. If you add it in the beginning, it will make your pasta salad watery.

Be sure to allow the flavors to meld together a bit in the fridge for several hours, or even better, overnight, before serving, because the flavor improves over time.

Here's how to make it!

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Recipe: Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 20 min |Inactive time: 8 hours | Yield: About 8 servings

  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 2 cups of uncooked small shell pasta
  • 2/3 cup of real mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1 packet (3 tablespoons) dry ranch dressing mix
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk or milk
  • 1/2 cup of sweet peas, frozen or canned (such as Le Sueur), thawed and/or well drained

Cook the bacon until crisp; remove to drain on a paper towel, chop and set aside. Put grated carrot into a microwave safe bowl, lightly sprinkle with water, cover and cook on high for 2 minutes; set aside to cool. May also saute in a skillet, or boil in a saucepan if you don't have a microwave. Let cool, and wrap the cooked carrots in several layers of paper towels and squeeze out any residual liquid. Set aside.

Prepare pasta according to package directions; rinse and drain. Pat with paper towels. Transfer to a serving bowl, or storage container. Toss with mayonnaise while pasta is still warm, until well blended. Add the chopped bacon, the cooked and cooled carrots, onion powder and ranch dressing mix; stir. Add a splash of buttermilk or milk, and stir in until creamy adding additional milk as needed for desired consistency. Gently fold in the peas, cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving. Allow to rest at room temperature before serving and refresh with a spoon of pickle juice and/or additional mayonnaise if needed.

Cook's Notes: Canned Le Sueur peas are perfect for this, but very tender, so add them after you've mixed everything else well, then gently toss to avoid mashing them. As with most pasta salads, there are lots of add-ins you can use - celery, black olives, red onion, green or red bell pepper, a seeded and chopped tomato, just to name a few, and of course, all kinds of shredded cheeses - there really are endless possibilities. If you do want to add in tomato, clean, seed and chop it and add it right before serving to avoid making the pasta watery.


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Posted by on May 22, 2010
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  1. Looks creamy and delicious!!:)
    Have a great weekend;)

  2. Hi Mary,

    Pasta....lovin it! This looks so good, and creamy..I'd much prefer to eat fresh than the box things. I have not bought those in years if ever..they are so so cardboardy
    is that a word. Think the family will like this..we are noodle faces here....:)

  3. I have to admit I love that suddenly salad stuff. But homemade? Now that's some good eatin!

  4. This sounds so good! My regular pasta salad is so boring! I am definitely going to try this and I might add a couple of chopped up boiled eggs.

  5. There are peas in there? They must be hiding:)

    This reminds me of a spaghetti salad my mother used to make in spring/summer.

  6. Thanks y'all! Enjoy.

    Yep, there's a few peas in there. Only 1/2 cup - but they are there! :) They are the Le Sueur peas which are very tiny, early sweet peas - not anything like the bigger typical green peas from the can or the freezer.

  7. Yum!! Salad with a smoky bacon aroma and flavor!! Gotta try this one... Dropping by from SITS!

  8. Stopping from SITS! I tried the boxed stuff recently and the pasta didn't taste like pasta. I bet you recipe will taste so much better.

  9. That pasta salad looks and sounds terrific. gotta try it!


    I made this a little earlier for my hubby and his friends to go with bbq chicken it turned out so good and it wasn't even cold yet.

  11. Thanks so much Ariel! Glad y'all enjoyed it.

  12. I used Garden Rotini & whole wheat rotini then added halved cherry tomatoes, orange bell peppers, and peeled seeded chopped cucumber. I skipped the peas - and crumbled the bacon on the top after it was all mixed together. Yum! So much better than the plain old white pasta in the box.

  13. I love you Mary! It doesn't matter what you is always fantastic. When I die, I am leaving a link to your website! Thank you! Teresa

  14. Made this for a pot luck lunch and it was great just the way it was published. Thanks for another great recipe!

    1. I'm so glad - thanks for taking the time to come back and let me know you enjoyed it!

  15. Giving this a try for my daughters bday party this weekend. It sounds soooo good!

  16. Hi, love all the recipes I've tried so far :) I made this today for a bbq this evening. It was good but seemed really salty. Is that just the flavor of it? Either way I'll definitely make it again and maybe just use half the ranch. This would make a lovely meal paired with a salad for the upcoming hot summer nights. Thanks!!

    1. No, it's not supposed to be too salty. The Ranch dressing does have salt though so maybe try a homemade version of that so you can control the salt better. It is essentially a blend of garlic and onion powder or dried onion flakes, with dried parsley, salt & black pepper. Reduce or eliminate the salt when cooking the pasta, and it could also be the brand of bacon you're using. Some brands are very heavy on salt. Next time you make this try to go with a low sodium version and see if that makes a difference too. Hope that helps! ~Mary

  17. I'm making this for dinner tonight to go with grilled hamburges. I was trying to think of something on the side, and this popped on Pinterest. I am going to used prepacked real bacon bits instead of frying of some bacon. I make a lot things off of your site, as you have some really good recipes.

    1. Thanks so much - hope you enjoy it!

    2. It was so good! I ended up putting the whole can of baby peas in the salad, since I love peas. The bacon bits were a good shortcut, but next time, I am going to fry up some bacon. I also used bow tie pasta since I had that in the pantry. Very good recipe!

    3. Oh good! I'm so glad that you enjoyed it!!

  18. I'm going to make this, this 4th of July my son is a pasta salad junkie, I'm sure he will love it!


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