So it’s that time of year again when I simply love to cook; it doesn’t matter what it is. If I have a kitchen full of ingredients and several mouths to feed I put my culinary skills to work, creating whatever comes to mind. Tonight’s creation was inspired by my love of chicken bacon ranch pizza and pasta salad from the neighborhood deli. I figured I should combine the two and see what happens. Luckily for me my idea went off without a hitch and I wound up with this beauty:
Looks delicious, right? It was!
- 6 STRIPS OF BACON (Low Sodium)
- 2/3 CUP RANCH DRESSING (Low Fat/Light)
- 1/2 lb. CHICKEN
- 12 Oz. BOX OF FARFALLE (Bowtie) PASTA
- 1/3 CUP DICED SCALLIONS
- 1/2 CUP SHREDDED MOZZARELLA CHEESE (Skim)
- 1/3 CUP CANOLA OIL
Begin by bringing the box of pasta and four cups of water to a boil in a medium pot. While the pasta is cooking place your half pound of chicken on a cutting board and chop into 1 in cubes. Obviously the size of the cubes doesn’t really matter, but keep in mind that if you plan on frying the chicken like I did, it’ll be easier if the pieces are smaller. After you have chopped the chicken to your liking place it into a medium frying pan on medium heat with the canola oil; fry until golden brown. While the pasta and chicken are slowly cooking, place six strips of bacon into a medium frying pan and cook on medium heat until crispy. When the pasta is tender place it into a colander and rinse with cold water. Let the pasta sit for about five to ten minutes before placing it in a container and setting it in the refrigerator for a half hour. When the bacon and chicken are cooked to your liking, place them in the colander as well to drain the excess grease. Let them sit for five to ten minutes without rinsing them. While the bacon and chicken are cooling, take the time to dice up enough scallions to fill a third of a cup.
*SIDENOTE: It might be easier to chop up the scallions and chicken with a food processor. If you have one, feel free to use it. It’ll make your life much easier and cut down on prep time. You also might want to consider using steamed chicken instead of fried chicken to avoid the need for oil in this recipe.
When the bacon has cooled down and been drained of the excess grease shred it into small pieces and toss it along with the chicken into a large mixing bowl with the pasta and stir evenly. Add in the scallions and 2/3 cup of ranch dressing. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours. When everything has had ample time to cool add in your shredded mozzarella, stir evenly, and get ready to serve up a tasty treat for those hungry mouths!
While this entire process sounds somewhat lengthy, just keep in mind that it’s really quite simple if you time things accordingly. What I like about this recipe, is that it’s not too difficult, it’s tasty, it’s filling, and it feeds many mouths with very little. You can also tweak it to your liking by adding a little more kick with some pepper jack cheese or making it creamier with either more ranch dressing or a thicker full flavored dressing. I only stuck to low sodium bacon, skim cheese, and light dressing to try and negate some of the excess calories that something like this might produce. Either way you end up with something that is decidedly delicious. Enjoy!
Until next time…stay classy.
– C.M. Berry