With the Fourth of July weekend coming up, I’m sure many readers will be hosting or attending picnics, barbeques, and other backyard get-togethers. A huge fan of casual parties myself, I am always on the lookout for fast, easy to put together side dishes that aren’t too expensive to feed a crowd. A good example is my prior post on BBQ Baked Beans.
Enter the pasta salad.
Pasta salads are insanely versatile. They adapt well to just about any type of veggie, meat, or cheese, with tons of creative dressing/sauce options as well. You could try a Greek mix of feta, banana peppers, onions, and kalamata olives, or a club mix of ham chunks, cheddar cheese, and crumbled bacon, or how about an Italian combo with salami, pepperoni, pepperocini, and swiss.
For this recipe, I had a pre-mix box ranch & bacon pasta salad, and decided to jazz it up a bit with some canned chunk chicken and fresh diced veggies. You can also use a pound of any type of pasta (the small shapes work best here, like shells, elbows, or penne), spices you like, and some crumbled bacon.
Step 1: Dice your zucchini and tomatoes, and drain the chicken. Get the water boiling for the pasta, and boil 8-10 minutes.
Step 2: In a pan, cook the zucchini for 5-7 minutes, until beginning to brown. Add the tomato and chicken, and cook until heated through.
Step 3: Drain the pasta, and mix in the veggies. Add the toppings included (or spices & cooked crumbled bacon) and the Ranch dressing. Stir well. Add more or less as needed.
This cooks up a nice big batch, and can feed a hungry crowd. The Ranch flavor works great with the bacon, pasta, and chicken. You can also use dried Ranch seasonings and milk or sour cream to achieve a similar yet different taste. As a bonus, you’ve snuck in a serving of veggies per cup!
Happy partying & God bless the USA!
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