Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

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Steve and Gayle Henson opened the Hidden Valley Guest Ranch near Santa Barbara California in the 1950s. Visitors enjoyed hiking tours, horseback riding, fishing and home-cooked meals. Activities brought guest to the ranch but there was a growing demand for a buttermilk, herb and spice dressing invented by the owners and served on their salads. Guest requested jars to take home and soon a mail-order business began.

Today, that original Hidden Valley Ranch dressing is sold throughout the United States and in more than 30 countries world-wide.

I use Ranch dressing on everything – burgers, fries, vegetables and wouldn’t think of eating a salad without it. The dressing is great to include in recipes along side or replacing sour cream or mayonnaise, which is what I do for this recipe. The ranch dressing provides a binder and extra seasoning in this pasta salad. I use it lightly here, but the salad could be made much more creamy by adding more dressing if desired.

This is the first side dish I have made for my column in a long time. I thought it was a good time to start rolling out some of the warm weather dishes I have planned for this summer.

This dish was inspired by a pasta salad my cousin had purchased at Meijer, which was good but I thought there was way to much ranch. This was hard for me to believe. It was the first time in my life that I actually thought there was to much ranch because I can almost drink the stuff from the bottle.

Notice I said “almost" drink it?

That was the problem with the Meijer pasta salad, there was so much ranch it was like drinking it from the bottle. Together bacon and ranch is pretty much a slam dunk in what ever dish it is put in, so I went with it – and went easy on the dressing. This dish could very easily be a potato salad by replacing the pasta with cooked spuds and would be just as tasty next to that big steak at your next backyard barbecue.

Eat well, cook often ...

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