One of my favorite things about hot weather is eating cold pasta salad. Cold pasta salad is the perfect dish for hot summer nights. I throw almost anything in with cold pasta and eat it. You can have a complete meal, quickly and with just a few ingredients.

The basic formula for a cold pasta salad is to take cold cooked pasta, add a cheese, a veggie or two, a meat and then top it with a salad dressing. This is a great formula to use when you have left overs.  If you made homemade pizza earlier in the week, you could use the left over toppings to make a pizza themed pasta salad, you could also do the same with tacos, or any other leftovers you have laying around that fit the formula. Have fun and be creative.

I will give you my husband’s favorite cold pasta salad recipe. I’m pretty sure what makes this his favorite is the bacon, of course. It seems that with guys, you can never go wrong with bacon.

BLT Ranch Cold Pasta Salad

1 box of pasta

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 bottle of ranch dressing

2 cups diced tomatoes

1 cup Swiss cheese, cubed

1/2 cup red onions, thin sliced

1 pound bacon, cooked and chopped

2 cups lettuce, chopped

Salt and pepper

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box, then drain and rinse with cold water.  Rinse until the pasta is cold to the touch. Sprinkle olive oil over the cold pasta and stir until the pasta is coated, this keeps the pasta from sticking together. You can leave the pasta in the fridge and add the rest of the ingredients when ready.

Before serving, add the ranch dressing, tomatoes, Swiss cheese, red onions, bacon and lettuce to the cold pasta. Stir until combined, and then you can add salt and pepper to fit your taste.

Joy Larson is a mother of four boys, graduate of the University of Montana, animal lover and writer.