Whenever my family has a large gathering, we always share food duties. The host usually covers the main entrée and a few accompaniments, while the rest bring side dishes. By far, the most requested side is my sister’s pasta salad, which pairs up well with almost anything the rest of us are making.
Make sure your bacon is extra crispy to hold up in this creamy pasta salad, or else omit it completely if you want to go meatless.
This dish shines in the summer when tomatoes and cucumbers are in full season, but is truly wonderful any time of the year. It’s so easy to make and is great as a meal on its own.
Ingredients (makes 10-12 side servings)
• 2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked al dente
• 1 cup tomato, diced
• 1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
• 6-8 slices bacon, crumbled (I used Hormel Natural Choice uncured bacon)
• 1½ cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
• ¼ cup light mayonnaise (I use Duke’s)
• 1/3 cup Ranch dressing
• Sea salt to taste
• Ground pepper to taste
Place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
Combine mayonnaise, Ranch dressing, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over the pasta until well blended.
Refrigerate for several hours before serving.
Eat, drink and be merry!