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Perfect pasta picnic salad! With corn, bacon, basil, and buttermilk ranch dressing.
Photography Credit:Elise Bauer
Featured in 12 Recipes to Use Up Buttermilk
Here’s a great picnic salad for the end of summer—with pasta and corn. We don’t usually think of pairing the two, both being starches, but the combo works great, especially when you toss in bacon, bell pepper, green onions, and basil, and tie everything together with buttermilk ranch dressing.
We’re using orecchiette pasta for the salad. “Orecchiette” is Italian for “ear” because, well that’s the pasta looks like, tiny little ears. The pasta is a perfect shape for catching the kernels of corn and other ingredients.
You can either use your favorite buttermilk ranch dressing, or make your own. (It’s easy! Especially if you have buttermilk sitting around waiting to be used.)
Cooking tip—no need to cook the corn kernels separately, just put them in with the pasta during the last minute of cooking.
Pasta Salad with Corn, Bacon, and Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Recipe
- 8 ounces orecchiette pasta
- Salt for pasta water
- 4 ounces bacon (about 4 strips)
- 1 3/4 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
- 3/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced (from about 6 green onions)
- 3/4 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
- 1/3 cup of buttermilk ranch dressing
- Salt and pepper to taste
1 Cook the pasta and corn: Heat 2 quarts of water in a large pot until boiling. Add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add the pasta and boil uncovered at a rolling boil until al dente.
About 1 minute before the pasta is ready, add the corn to the boiling pasta water with the pasta.
Drain the pasta and corn, and set aside.
2 Cook the bacon: Cut the bacon into 1/2 inch pieces. Put in a frying pan and heat on medium. Cook until the fat has rendered and the bacon is well browned. Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate.
Note: Do not pour rendered fat down your kitchen sink unless you really like your plumber. Pour it into a jar to use for another cooking purpose or discard.
3 Combine the ingredients to make the salad: In a large bowl add the drained, cooled pasta and corn, the bacon, and the remaining ingredients. Toss with with dressing. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
Great served with grilled chicken or steak.
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FIESTA RANCH PASTA SALAD
This fiesta ranch pasta salad is so easy and so good!
This pasta salad is one of our favorite summer dishes. It’s so easy to prepare! I love making this dish for potlucks or family gatherings. I always come back with an empty bowl. This recipe makes a lot so it’s perfect for a larger group. It can easily be halved for a smaller family picnic or weeknight dinner.
Ingredients for Fiesta Ranch Pasta Salad
Ground beef or ground turkey
Ranch salad dressing packet
Recipe Notes: One of my favorite things about this pasta salad is how versatile it is. You can swap out the pinto beans for black beans. Feel free to use Ranch Doritos or even Fritos as a topping. I’ve made this using both ground beef and ground turkey and it’s great either way. It would also be great with chicken.
If you like this dish, you may love our Southern Succotash.
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BLT Pasta Salad
The classic combo takes pasta form in this easy summer recipe.
Summer's arrival means potlucks, barbecues, picnics&mdashand lots and lots of pasta salad. Think of this BLT pasta salad as your entry point to all summer meals. Serve it for dinner with burgers and grilled meats, pack it up for a picnic lunch, or even make it on a Monday to snack on all week. (Any excuse for pasta, right?)
Along with the BLT components of this dish (bacon, lettuce, and tomato), the key to making this pasta salad so delicious is in the dressing. The mayo-based topping is made with one of our favorite kitchen hacks&mdashranch seasoning mix! It&rsquos creamy, herby, and packed with flavor.
Which pasta is best for pasta salad?
You can use any pasta shape you have handy, but bite-sized pasta with texture and holes is best to catch the dressing, herbs, and other toppings. Try bowties, shells, orecchiette, or penne&mdashor go for something with a spiral-shape like fusilli or cavatappi.
How long should pasta salad sit before serving?
This pasta salad recipe really is easy and works for just about any situation. If you&rsquore in a rush, you can eat it as soon as you mix it! But you can also make it ahead and keep it for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. If making it the day before, keep the bacon and lettuce on the side until ready to serve. (Tossing them in just before will make sure they stay crunchy.) You&rsquoll also want to hold a small amount of dressing on the side to mix in right before serving. Alternatively, moisten the pasta salad before serving with an additional ¼ cup whole milk or buttermilk.
Should you rinse the pasta for pasta salad?
For a cold pasta salad, you certainly can (and should) rinse your pasta. Warning: This is not the case for hot pasta&mdashnever rinse pasta when you&rsquore making a hot dish. When it's cold, though, you actually want to stop the pasta from cooking further by using cold water to rinse off some of the starch so the pieces don&rsquot stick together. If you are cooking your pasta the day before, give it a rinse, then toss it with 1 teaspoon of olive oil (to prevent it from sticking together) and refrigerate in a covered container.
8 ounces salad rotini pasta (could use any kind of pasta you like)
1 can medium pitted ripe olives, weight 6 ounces, drained, chopped
1 cup cooked chicken breast, chopped (Optional)
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup green onion, chopped (or about 3 onions)
12 cherry tomatoes, cut in half (could use more or 1 large tomato, chopped and drained)
1 cup cucumber, coarsely chopped
Prepare pasta according to package directions for salad pasta draining and running under cold water. Let pasta cool while you prepare other ingredients. Mix all together in a large salad bowl and add homemade ranch dressing made with recipe below. Let cool in refrigerator for several hours before serving or overnight. Makes about 10 to 12 servings. Serve over lettuce or as is. (Note: This salad will keep in the refrigerator for several days. If becomes dry after a few days, add more mayo.) ENJOY!
1/4 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing (your preference)
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Makes about 1 cup dressing. Pour over pasta salad. (I love this dressing and could eat it with chips!)
MY TIPS FOR MAKING THIS RECIPE
If you are using a bottled, store-bought ranch dressing then be sure and use one that you love! I really like the Litehouse brand that you find in the refrigerated part of the produce area in the grocery store.
This salad is so delicious with my homemade ranch dressing (which will be in the recipe card if you want to try it). No matter if you use homemade ranch dressing or store-bought, be sure that it is COLD. If you add warm, room temperature ranch then it will make the salad that same way.
Tri color rotini pasta is the best one to use for this salad. The noodles have much more flavor than just regular rotini noodles. They are easy to find in any store so be sure you use them.
For the parmesan cheese you can shred your own from a wedge or buy a bag/container of shredded parmesan cheese. This is what I do cause it's easy.
Like any pasta salad, this will dry out once it's in the fridge for several hours. This salad can be served right away OR refrigerated for 1-2 hours at the most before serving. Leftovers are fabulous! Just add some additional ranch dressing and mix it up, and it's good as new.
One recipe of the homemade ranch dressing is the perfect amount for this salad. When I eat leftovers of it the next day, I just add some bottled ranch dressing and it's fabulous.
Corn Salad Recipe
Crack Corn Salad makes for a great crowd-pleaser! Not only because it is yummy, but because you can prepare so much in so little time.
I did not even think it was feasible for me to create a dish in just a few minutes with minimal effort. But I did it! You see, I forgot that some friends will come over for a cookout.
I went to the kitchen, looked over my groceries, and when I found some corn, I just knew instantly what to prepare!
I always keep my famous crack ingredients on hand for emergencies like this, so lucky me, I was able to whip up this side dish in no time!
This is just how quick and easy to prepare this tasty side dish is! It is simply perfect for emergencies like this, or perhaps, on days that you feel extra lazy. Let&rsquos get started!
What is corn salad?
It refers to any kind of salad that has corn as the main ingredient. For this recipe, I used sweet corn kernels and ranch dressing to coat the other ingredients.
Also, I incorporated the crack trio &ndash a combination of bacon, cheese, and ranch. These ingredients add another dimension to the sweet taste of the kernels.
Is corn healthy?
Yes! Treated as a vegetable and a grain at the same time, it has many health benefits including the following:
- rich in carotenoids that aid good vision
- high in dietary fibers that are beneficial for the digestive system
- low-fat and gluten-free
However, despite these benefits, watch your intake because it is starchy after all. The starch can elevate your blood sugar levels quickly after a meal.
What do you need to make Crack Corn Salad?
You need the following ingredients:
- sweet corn
- green onions
- cheddar cheese
- juice of one lime
- garlic powder
- kosher salt
- black pepper
Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad
Move over, all other pasta salads. There&rsquos a new kid in town. This Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad is PACKED with super sweet corn, queso fresco, and bacon, and is tossed in a creamy chili lime dressing. It&rsquos the perfect thing for a meal planning or a potluck, and easily can be made ahead of time.
Mexican street corn (Elotes) is grilled corn on the cob, covered in a creamy chili lime dressing and cotija cheese.
This pasta salad is a deconstructed version of traditional Mexican street corn, with a few tricks to get that smoky, grilled flavor without having to actually grill anything!
The first trick: I added bacon. I had a bunch left over from making Breakfast BLTs a couple weeks ago, and was inspired by the recipe for a similar pasta salad on Chelsea&rsquos Messy Apron that called for bacon. It adds a salty, smoky crunch to this Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad and that pairs SO well with the sweet corn and chili lime dressing.
The second trick: I sautéed the corn in the bacon fat. This may just be my crowning achievement as a cook. You&rsquore welcome.
Since traditional Mexican Street Corn is grilled, I wanted to make sure the corn got some dark brown color and smoky flavor before adding it to the pasta salad. If you want to grill corn on the cob, and then remove the kernels to use in this salad, by all means go for it. This is a great move if you are planning on grilling something already.
But honestly, I didn&rsquot even use fresh corn for this. I just got a 16-oz. bag of good old fashioned sweet corn. I love using frozen veggies because they are picked when they are the freshest, and then frozen. You can always count on frozen corn to be super sweet and delicious.
After cooking the bacon for this recipe, I drained all but one tablespoon of the fat and added the thawed corn to the skillet. You can also use fresh kernels removed from the cobs, or drained canned corn. Which means this recipe is great all year round!
When sautéing the corn, make sure not to stir it around too much. This will ensure that the kernels get some nice brown color on them, enhancing the &ldquogrilled&rdquo flavor that we&rsquore going for.
The dressing is a mixture of mayonnaise, lime juice and zest, chili powder, cumin, hot sauce (I used chipotle tabasco, my favorite), salt, and pepper. Go easy on the salt- the pasta, queso fresco, and bacon all have plenty of salt. You won&rsquot need to add much more.
When making salads, I like to mix the dressing in the bottom of a large bowl, then add all the remaining ingredients on top to mix all together. This way, you don&rsquot get a separate bowl dirty when mixing the dressing!
After the bacon is cooked and crumbled, the pasta is cooked al dente, and the corn is done sautéing, just throw all the ingredients into the bowl with the dressing and toss together. Violà!
I LOVED using queso fresco in this salad- it&rsquos one of my favorite cheeses. It&rsquos a mild Mexican farmer&rsquos cheese that has a similar, but a bit more mild, taste to feta. You can alternatively use cotija cheese, a similar, dryer cheese, or feta, if you wish.
I think the best way to crumble cheese is to use a fork to pull it apart- it ensures that you get a mixture of large and small crumbles that are sure to coat every bite of this Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad.
I recommend using a large cast iron skillet to cook the bacon and the corn. Cast iron helps develop better flavor than other skillets, and the ingredients brown a bit better in it.
One last tip: run the cooked pasta under cold water and shake as much excess water off as possible. If it&rsquos warm when you add it to the salad, it will absorb too much of the dressing, and the salad will become dry.
You can make this salad in advance and keep it refrigerated for up to a week, making it perfect for meal planning!
Obviously, there are three can’t miss ingredients right in the name. Bacon, Ranch and Pasta.
Bacon: you want fresh crispy bacon that is pan fried or bacon cooked in the oven. Drain and crumble it.
Pasta: Elbows, rigatoni, shells, bow tie, or campanelle, it’s all good!
Ranch: head to the salad dressing aisle and grab the package of the dry ranch dressing mix.
There are a few more ingredients that add a ton of flavor, peas, cheddar cheese, sour cream and mayo.
If you want, you can also add a little actual ranch dressing, but I find it’s not needed.
Farmhouse Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
This is for you men out there who claim to hate salad. I know who you are, and I have this to say. You haven&rsquot tried my farmhouse salad yet. This farmhouse salad is has all the things you love. Bacon, cheese, corn on the cob and that creamy, buttermilk dressing you grew up on.
Here&rsquos the funny part of this. I have never much cared for this type of salad, always leaning towards a sultry, sexy vinaigrette and fancy lettuce.
This is a comfort food salad, a good meal actually, because the combination of everyone&rsquos favorite foods like cheese and bacon is brought under that creamy stream of buttermilk. The crunch and flavors are happy.
I call it a farmhouse salad for obvious reasons. I used a white farmhouse cheddar that is crumbly and has a good kick to it. I added a bit of corn cut from the cob, which is great for summertime, and in the winter, let me suggest adding in some thawed, frozen peas.
Corn and bacon for summer peas and bacon for winter. Trust me on this. It works. The buttermilk dressing can be found here.
There are a few fun ways to make this. Serve individual dishes of long leaves of Romaine. It&rsquos pretty and dramatic. Or chop it all up and serve in a big bowl. You can shred iceberg lettuce for this salad or use Romaine. I like the heartier lettuces for this type of salad. They are full of water, but that just adds the right texture, as the lettuce is more crunchy and stable.
How is the pasta salad prepared?
Here&rsquos the easy directions:
- Cook pasta as directed on box. Drain thoroughly and you can rinse in cold water and drain again.
- Chop up the cheese into little cubes. Cut up the precooked bacon as well. Save a little of each for garnish.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the pasta. Then add in the cheese and bacon. Gently mix to combine. Try not to break up the pasta.
- Add in the whole bottle of dressing. Again, gently toss to coat everything. I like using two large wooden spoons to do this.
- Place in fridge for just about 30 minutes or up to 24 hours. Top with saved cheese and bacon. Now, serve up! ( pasta salad can stay in fridge up to 2 days in a sealed container.
Enjoy the creamy deliciousness !
BLT Pasta Salad
When I asked you guys on Instagram whether you wanted to see this BLT Pasta Salad or The Best Pancakes Ever recipe, the response was an overwhelming vote for this BLT Pasta Salad.
Which tells me that you already have a stellar pancake recipe or that you know that the Fourth of July is right around the corner and you know you’ll be asked to bring a side dish. How do I know that? Because I was just asked to bring a side dish to a BBQ next week.
It’s the season of BBQs, potlucks, and get togethers. I never want summer to end. I love the casual entertaining, the late sunsets, and all the water. Pool and beach on repeat. It’s my birthday next week and I’m a Cancer which apparently has the sign of water in astrology.
Adding pasta to salad isn’t an entirely new concept. Remember this Bowtie Chicken Caesar Salad? It’s a great way to bulk up a regular salad. Although in this instance, we’re doing the reverse.
We’re adding lettuce to a pasta salad. It brightens up the dish with a fresh element so we don’t feel like we’re eating straight carbs. Not to mention it taste just like a BLT sandwich. On second thought, maybe we should add croutons? Huh? Right?