Ranch BLT Pasta Salad

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Recipe by South Your Mouth

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Ranch BLT Pasta Salad

1/2 pound small ridged elbow macaroni noodles or cavatappi (corkscrew pasta)*

Liberally salted water

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup ranch dressing

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 12-ounce package bacon

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

1 head romaine lettuce

5-6 green onions, chopped (optional)

Cook pasta in liberally salted water per manufacturer’s instructions for al dente preparation. Drain pasta then rinse in cold water. Drain again then immediately add pasta to a large mixing bowl. Don’t let it set and dry out too much, you want the pasta to still be on the moist side for the next step.

Add parsley, garlic, salt, pepper and Dijon mustard to pasta and stir until well combined. Let pasta “marinate” in the seasonings for 15-20 minutes uncovered at room temperature. Doing this allows the pasta to soak up the flavors of the parsley, seasonings and mustard before adding the mayonnaise mixture.

While pasta is “marinating”, slice bacon into 1/2-inch ribbons and cook until crispy; drain from fat and set aside. I know this seems like a lot of bacon but remember we lose half or more of it in rendered fat after cooking. You can use less if you're using lean or center-cut bacon.

Remove softer, outer leaves from lettuce and reserve for another use. Roughly chop approximately 4 cups from the inner (more crunchy) leaves; set aside.

Whip together mayonnaise, ranch dressing and vinegar then add mixture to the cooked pasta and stir to combine.

Add half of the bacon, tomato halves, chopped romaine and green onions to pasta and gently stir until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Top with remaining half of bacon and serve immediately.

If you’re not going to serve this immediately, mix all but the romaine and second half of bacon. When you’re ready to serve, toss pasta with romaine then top with remaining half of the bacon.

*Use any small, tubular, ridged pasta for this recipe. I think ridged pasta is best for pasta salads because the ridges help the other ingredients stick to the pasta.