Here's a great picnic salad for the end of summer—with pasta and corn. We don't usually think of pairing the two, both being starches, but the combo works great, especially when you toss in bacon, bell pepper, green onions, and basil, and tie everything together with buttermilk ranch dressing.
We're using orecchiette pasta for the salad. "Orecchiette" is Italian for "ear" because, well that's the pasta looks like, tiny little ears. The pasta is a perfect shape for catching the kernels of corn and other ingredients.
You can either use your favorite buttermilk ranch dressing, or make your own. (It's easy! Especially if you have buttermilk sitting around waiting to be used.)
Cooking tip—no need to cook the corn kernels separately, just put them in with the pasta during the last minute of cooking.
Pasta Salad with Corn, Bacon, and Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
- 8 ounces orecchiette pasta
- Salt for pasta water
- 4 ounces bacon (about 4 strips)
- 1 3/4 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
- 3/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced (from about 6 green onions)
- 3/4 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
- 1/3 cup of buttermilk ranch dressing
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the pasta and corn:
Heat 2 quarts of water in a large pot until boiling. Add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add the pasta and boil uncovered at a rolling boil until al dente.
About 1 minute before the pasta is ready, add the corn to the boiling pasta water with the pasta.
Drain the pasta and corn, and set aside.
Cook the bacon:
Cut the bacon into 1/2 inch pieces. Put in a frying pan and heat on medium. Cook until the fat has rendered and the bacon is well browned. Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate.
Note: Do not pour rendered fat down your kitchen sink unless you really like your plumber. Pour it into a jar to use for another cooking purpose or discard.
Combine the ingredients to make the salad:
In a large bowl add the drained, cooled pasta and corn, the bacon, and the remaining ingredients. Toss with with dressing. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
Great served with grilled chicken or steak.