If you're looking for something other than your average pasta salad but is still over-the-top delicious, this is it! Tweak with ingredients to fit your own likes, but be sure not to skip making the homemade Ranch dressing. It can be made in advance and puts the salad in a class of its own!
Cook the pasta in liberally salted water according to package directions. Drain into a colander and run cool tap water over the pasta until completely cooled. Transfer to a large bowl.
Add the bacon, tomatoes, cheddar cheese cubes, and olives. Pour in about 1 cup of the dressing. Add the salt and pepper and then gently stir with a large spoon until everything is combined and dressed. Continue adding dressing and stirring until the desired consistency is reached. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
Remove pasta salad from the fridge, give it a good stir, and then transfer it to a serving bowl and garnish with chives. See NOTES about making in advance.
We HIGHLY recommend making the Ranch dressing from scratch (click the link in the recipe card). It really elevates this pasta salad tremendously. It's not hard to make and can be made several days in advance. Any type of small (short cut) pasta will work. The pasta can be made several hours before assembling the salad. Simply cool the pasta as written in the recipe, and then transfer to a large bowl and toss with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Give it a good stir every 20 minutes or so. We cook our bacon in a 400°F oven on a foil-lined baking sheet for about 15 minutes, or until crispy. All of the salad ingredients (other than the pasta) can be prepped up to 24 hours in advance. Assemble and chill 1 hour before serving. The salad can also be assembled several hours before serving, but save some of the dressing to stir in just before serving. Although the salad is still yummy for several days after serving (kept chilled in the fridge), we do recommend making and serving it on the same day, hopefully within an hour or two before guests arrive.