This spinach pasta salad is inspired by a similar one that is sold at the deli counter of my local grocery store. Compared to that original, the taste is a little milder, but I think it makes this pasta salad better. This recipe uses just 4 ingredients (not including salt & pepper) and is a breeze to make. The longest part was cooking the macaroni.
The secret ingredient that sets this apart from your usual pasta salad is ranch dressing. Using ranch instead of mayonnaise gives it a zing and keeps it from getting to dense feeling in your mouth. And the spinach and the bacon give it a nice crunch. I used macaroni, but you could use any pasta, such as the spiral shaped fusilli, twisted farfalle, or the shell-like conchigliette (usually just called shells). A great infographic for learning pastas can be found at charmingitaly.com.
In part because I just cooked bacon this morning and the pan was in the dishwasher, and part because I needed a photo for this Tuesday’s post, I used the microwave method of cooking the bacon. I spent a long time assuming that microwaved bacon wouldn’t come out right without ever trying it. There’s no way it would come out crispy, right? Wrong. Traditional stovetop cooking of bacon is fraught with danger for me. I can almost never get it in that perfect stage between chewy and burnt. But microwaving it gave it that perfect consistency that was absolutely necessary for this salad.
- 1 c. macaroni
- 4 slices bacon
- ¼ c. spinach
- ¼ c. ranch dressing
- salt & pepper to taste
- Cook macaroni according to directions on package
- While macaroni is cooking, cook bacon until crisp.
- Drain grease from bacon, and let cool.
- Roughly chop the bacon into ¼" pieces.
- Chop spinach into 1" pieces.
- Mix all ingredients together in bowl & season to taste.
- Cover and place in refrigerator until ready to serve.