Creamy Ranch Pasta Salad

Whenever I host an event or party, I like to prepare as much food as I can ahead of time.  As much as Chef PickyKid and I like to cook and be in the kitchen, it’s always a bummer being confined to the kitchen while everyone else is enjoying the party!  Plus, preparing ahead of time means that all the mess involved with cooking will be cleaned before the guests arrive!

This is a great recipe to make ahead of time; it’s easy to prepare and tastes better after it’s had a little time to chill in the fridge.

I usually make this salad when I’m cooking for a large group because it’s very easy to make.The recipe I’m posting is for 4-6 servings but I double it up for a party! I recently made this for Chef PickyKid’s birthday party and it was a big success!

Creamy Ranch Pasta Salad

1 Package Cooked Small Shell Pasta

1 Carrot, Peeled and Shredded or Thinly Chopped

1/2 Cucumber, Peeled and Chopped

1/2 Cup Diced Celery-Approximately 2 Stalks Celery

1 Cup Halved Grape Tomatoes (About 1/2 Container)

2 Hard Boiled Eggs, Chopped

4-5 Strips Cooked Bacon, Chopped

Dressing Ingredients:

1 Cup Mayonnaise

Approximately 1/2 Packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Seasoning (you can use 1/2 cup prepared ranch dressing, but I like the seasoning-it gives it a more ranch-y flavor! 🙂 )

6 Tablespoons Milk (I use 1% milk)

4 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar

2 Tablespoons Dried Minced Onion (you could omit the minced onion and add 1/2 fresh, chopped yellow onion or 2-3 chopped scallions to the salad.  I’ve tried all three options and they’re all tasty!)

1 Teaspoon Seasoned Salt

1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

1/2 Teaspoon Mustard Seasoning

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Cook pasta according to directions.  In a large  bowl, combine pasta and all vegetables, as well as the bacon.  In a small bowl, combine all dressing ingredients and pour over salad ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

NOTE: Add a little dressing at a time until you get the desired consistency.  You may not use all of the dressing, depending on your preference.  I like to make a little extra so I can be sure I have enough!

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