The Pasta Salad That Brings Every Non-Football Fan To My Game Day Party

And that includes myself.

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
Photo: Micah A. Leal

Planning The Spread

The only reason I throw a game day party is for the food, and I'm convinced that it's my undying commitment to making unusually good snacks that brings my other friends who are generally disinterested in football. The remaining guests (who sit very close to the television) appreciate the food, but we're both happy acknowledging that we're there for different reasons. They watch the game and I watch the table (and commercials!) while catching up with those equally disinterested over the game on the screen. I would like to think that years of experience have taught me some of the "eating essentials" of an excellent game day party—namely, that finger foods and dips are a must. I religiously make my mother's slow-cooker cheese and meat dip, and I also always serve my Sweet Onion and Bacon Dip (one of the best spreads to ever grace a potato chip), but believe it or not, my crowd-pleasing favorite requires a plate and a fork to eat—and that seems to stop no one from getting seconds.

Pasta Salad Prep

Chewy and crisp pieces of bacon are mixed into a pasta salad packed with flavor. Ranch seasoning, garlic powder, shredded Parmesan, and fresh dill make an herby and creamy base that coats cooked cavatappi or elbow pasta, and over time, the tangy sauce soaks into the noodles to make something extraordinary. Cherry tomatoes are halved and folded in to provide bites of juicy acidity and sweetness. And the bacon I use is the good stuff—Wright Brand bacon. It's reliably delicious and renders just the right amount of fat when baked in the oven, leaving the strips crispy and still meaty. Using this bacon ensures that all the best flavor of bacon is imparted to the salad and melds with the other ingredients. Together the familiar combo of bacon and ranch are elevated by the saltiness of the Parmesan and the brightness of the fresh dill.

Reheat Tomorrow

Since pasta salad is the ideal food to sit in the fridge overnight, this salad also makes for incredible leftovers (just don't count on any after game day). In fact, if you can plan ahead, make the pasta salad the day before your party for optimal deliciousness. And rest assured that in our Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad, football lovers and haters alike will find something worth cheering over.

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