I really DO love pasta salad (see here, here, here and here). This version only uses four ingredients; three if you omit the poppy seeds, and takes only minutes to prepare. You can have the dressing prepared before the pasta is even done!
It's actually strange just HOW well the Ranch dressing compliments the roasted red peppers; the spice and tang play off of each other just perfectly. You can roast your own red peppers, or use the jarred kind; I've made this recipe with both types of roasted peppers and honestly can't taste a difference in between the two.
You can also use bottled Ranch dressing or your own recipe. I used bottled this time, simply because I had it on hand and was already taking the "jarred pepper shortcut". If you want to add additional ingredients, like, bacon, feel free (omit for vegetarian, obviously).
This is a great vegetarian side dish for potlucks, and, you can easily make it vegan by choosing a vegan Ranch dressing!
Roasted Red Pepper & Ranch Pasta Salad
adapted from The Galley Gourmet
8oz dried pasta (I used LARGE elbow macaroni since I had it on hand)
1/4 cup chopped roasted red bell pepper (about 2 peppers)
1 cup buttermilk ranch dressing
1 Tbsp poppy seeds (optional)
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water, then drain again. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
Process the roasted pepper and Ranch dressing in a food processor or blender until smooth. Pour over the pasta and gently toss to combine.
Sprinkle on the poppy seeds (if using) and toss to combine. Chill for about 1-2 hours before serving.