This was a really "fresh" meal, not too heavy at all. I got my inspiration from this recipe at Betty Crocker. I turned it into a meal by adding some cooked chicken.
Garden Ranch Pasta Salad With Chicken
1 box ranch & bacon style pasta salad mix
1/2 cup Ranch dressing
1/2 tsp dried dill weed
1 bag frozen broccoli (I used the microwave steamable kind)
1/2 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper, cut into strips (I used a red bell pepper from our garden that I had sliced and popped into the freezer)
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
Empty pasta mix into large saucepan full of boiling water. Gently boil uncovered 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pasta is done. Drain pasta; rinse with cold water. Shake to drain well. In a medium bowl, mix ranch & bacon pasta salad seasoning mix with Ranch dressing and dill weed. Stir in pasta and chicken. Steam broccoli in microwave for about 3 minutes (the instructions said 4-5 minutes, but I didn't want them piping hot for the pasta salad). To cook the red bell pepper strips, I used a Ziploc steamer bag that I got as a free sample. I steamed the bell pepper for 3 minutes in the microwave, which was just long enough to soften the bell pepper up really good. After broccoli & bell pepper are cooked up, mix them into the pasta salad. Serve with your favorite side dish.
If freezing: Prepare the chicken ahead of time. Cook in boiling water, or saute' in a skillet with a little olive oil. After cooked through, shred or chop chicken, place in freezer bag or food saver and freeze. Thaw 24 hours in refrigerator. Prepare as indicated above.
I went ahead & prepared this meal in the morning before going to work. My daughter helped me by mixing the seasonings together with the salad dressing. I figured refrigerating it would help all the flavors blend together during the day and it'd be good & chilled by the time we ate it later in the evening. I really liked this pasta dish. It would make a great dinner in the Summer time when the weather is warmer. We had a front come through, cooling off the temperature quite a bit, and because of it, Hubs complained a bit that it was too cold outside to have a cold supper (I think he was more interested in a hearty chili or stew). Other than that, we all enjoyed it!