We are entering into fresh summer produce season in Maine, and I have been picking the biggest cherry tomatoes off my plants for a couple weeks now. Usually, I end up popping a few of these in my mouth as I pick veggies, but this year I have been saving them for a larger treat like this pasta salad.
While much of the country is going back to school right about now, summer is still in full swing in the Northwoods. Kids here don’t go back to school for a couple more weeks, so this lull between when vacationers stop coming up in mass and the start of school in Maine is a precious time of relaxation.
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One of the perfect ways to relax with family and friends this time of year in Maine is to get together for a BBQ, day on the water, or just hanging out together on the deck. Light the Tiki torches, bust out the beverages and enjoy some good food together–and good food is easy to come by around here!
Tonight, I wanted to try out a new side (which could double as an entree!), so I pulled a few things out of the pantry and frig and went to work to make a Bacon Ranch Orzo Salad. A pantry staple in this house is ranch dressing mix. I buy it in canisters instead of packets, and it seems to work better for me. This salad is so simple, that it will only take you 15 minutes to make–a fabulous weeknight meal! Just whip it up and enjoy warm. While the salad is good refrigerated, it was even tastier while still warm as the bacon bits were warmed and their flavor infused the whole salad.
Bacon Ranch Orzo Salad
1 Box Orzo
1 Small Bag Frozen Peas
1 C Milk
1 C Mayo
1 C Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1 package Real Bacon Bits (You can find these in the salad toppings section.)
2 C Mexican Shredded Cheese Mix
- Fill a large pot with 4 quarts water and place on stove to heat. Add salt to the water to taste.
- When water is boiling, add the box of orzo and boil 5 minutes.
- While orzo is cooking, in a separate bowl mix Ranch dressing mix, milk and mayo. Once fully mixed, place in refrigerator.
- When orzo has boiled for 5 minutes, add frozen peas to the pot. Return to boil and cook peas and orzo an additional 5 minutes.
- Drain orzo and peas, put in a bowl and place in the refrigerator for 5 minutes.
- Remove orzo and peas from refrigerator and add ranch dressing, cheese, bacon bits and tomatoes. Mix until combined.
- Top with chopped chives and enjoy!
If you liked this recipe, check out our Spaghetti Carbonara recipe. It is another quick and easy weeknight recipe with pasta, bacon and peas!