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Texas Forever Pasta Salad

Recently Hodgson Mill sent me a variety pack of their whole wheat pasta to do a little experimenting with. The end product had to be some form of pasta salad, but other than that, the rest of the creating was completely up to me.

My little brain got to working, but per usual, it got sidetracked. I quickly found my mind wandering to all things Kyle Chandler and Friday Night Lights. Thoughts like ” I really should re-watch the entire series,” or “How could Riggin’s accent be fake?” kept racing through my brain. After several minutes of day dreaming about FNL, my mind finally got back to work on the pasta salad challenge.

And that is when I had a rather exciting revelation… I should make a pasta salad inspired by some of my favorite Texas items.

Please note there is a moderate amount of sarcasm built into my “exciting revelation” comment.

After ten minutes of trying to find a way to incorporate Blue Bell into the recipe, I made an important decision that the recipe should definitely lean towards the savory end of things. Blue Bell just wasn’t going to happen.

But bacon, green onions, chives, ranch, and cream? Those were definitely happening, along with a hefty side of fresh vegetables and farmer’s market corn. And with that, Texas Forever Pasta Salad was born.

Clear eyes, Fulls hearts, Can’t lose. Or should I say Hungry eyes, Full Tummies, Can’t lose.

Texas Forever Pasta Salad

2 1/2 cup Hodgson Mill Bow Tie Pasta
4 cups water
6 green onions, chopped
10 fresh chives, chopped
2 tomatillos, chopped
2 cobs of corn, kernels removed
1 zucchini, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalepeno, chopped
3 pieces cooked bacon
3/4 cup Mexican Blend cheese, shredded
2 6-ounce containers non-fat greek yogurt
1 4-ounce packet Ranch dressing mix
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Juice from one lime

Garnish options: cilantro, avocado, additional bacon, green onions

In a large sauce pan, bring water to a boil. Add in pasta and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, until pasta is done.

While pasta is cooking, add green onions, chives, tomatillos, corn kernels, zucchini, bell pepper, jalepeno, and bacon to a large bowl. Stir together.

In a separate small bowl, combine the 2 containers of non-fat greek yogurt with the ranch dressing mix. Whisk together.  Pour dressing over top of vegetables in the large bowl.  Add cooked pasta to the vegetable bowl. Also add in cheese, salt, pepper, and lime juice. Stir all of the ingredients together. Adjust seasonings to taste. Let refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Garnish with additional bacon, cilantro, and green onions.

This actually reminded me a lot of a deconstructed loaded baked potato, minus the baked potato obviously.  It was really delicious. I could totally see Mrs. Taylor serving it to all the players at one of their infamous Thursday night barbecues.

And back in the land of real people, I definitely could see this being served at a 4th of July picnic, or really any potluck event.  My neighbors came over to try it and loved it.  Plus it really is a healthy alternative to your typical pasta salad, but you would never know it by the way it tastes. Greek yogurt is amazing.

Thank you for putting up with all of my Friday Night Lights rambling. I realize the series ended years ago, but I just can’t let go. Dillon, Texas and all of its inhabitants own a piece of my heart.

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