I love the zestiness of a good Ranch Dressing! The Ranch Dressing I made here is very light because it is based on buttermilk (or laban, for those in the Middle East) rather than cream or mayonnaise. It is delicious on a green salad, but I love using it in my pasta salads because it is creamy and zingy without being heavy at all.
I think the combination of celery, green peppers, tomatoes and corn works really nicely with the pasta, chicken and ranch dressing, but you can build your pasta salad with whichever veggies you have at home.
CHICKEN PASTA SALAD WITH HOMEMADE RANCH DRESSING
Ranch Salad Dressing Ingredients:
1 plump garlic clove, crushed/grated/finely diced (you can make it 2 cloves if you really love garlic)
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2 scallions/spring onions, finely sliced OR 2 Tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro/coriander leaves, roughly chopped
2 generous pinches of salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste (I turn the pepper-mill 5-7 times)
1/8 tsp ground paprika
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp sugar
350g / 12oz dried pasta (I like using fusilli), boiled until al dente and cooled
2-3 chicken breasts (QUICK TIP: Save time by using a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the supermarket OR try poaching your own chicken breasts using this quick and easy recipe: How to Poach Chicken for Salads.)
2 celery sticks, sliced
1 large or 2 medium green peppers, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
200g frozen corn, defrosted
- Corn: At least 1-2 hours before you plan to start preparing your salad, put 200g of frozen corn in a colander (with a bowl underneath it to catch any melting ice) and defrost it either at room temperature if you are in a hurry or in the refrigerator if you have a bit more time. If you are defrosting at room temperature, be very vigilant and place the corn in the refrigerator as soon as it has defrosted.
- Pasta: Boil 300g of pasta according to the instructions on the packaging. Make sure that you cook it only up to al dente (ie. still with some bite to it). (TIP: Check your pasta 1-2 minutes before the instructed time is up to avoid overcooking.) Drain your pasta when it is done, drizzle with some olive oil, and let it cool to room temperature.
- Chicken: If you do not have left-over chicken or a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket, you can easily cook some fresh chicken for your salad by following my recipe for How to Poach Chicken for a Salad. Bring a pot of water to the boil. Add 1 tsp salt, 1 bay leaf and 6 black peppercorns. Drop your raw skinless chicken breasts into the water (make sure they are fully covered by the water). Leave your chicken to poach in the seasoned simmering water for 10-12 minutes. When the chicken is done (it will be white all the way through and tender), remove it from the pot and put it onto a plate. Allow it to cool and then shred it or cut it with a fork. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Ranch Salad Dressing: While the pasta and chicken are cooking, you can prepare the dressing. Combine all the Ranch Salad Dressing Ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Place in the refrigerator if not using immediately to avoid the buttermilk/laban becoming too warm.
- Salad Vegetables: Chop the celery, green peppers and tomatoes. Combine them in your salad serving bowl along with the defrosted corn.
- As soon as the pasta and chicken are cool, add them to the salad bowl and top with the Ranch Salad Dressing. Toss well and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Make sure that you re-toss the salad just before serving because the dressing falls to the bottom of the bowl.
- This pasta salad will keep nicely for upto 2 days.