This chicken penne pasta salad is brimming with the most delicious ingredients… Salty bacon, creamy avocado, bright tomatoes, hearty pasta, lean grilled protein and luscious buttermilk ranch dressing.
Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl or mason jar. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Make the dressing and refrigerate until ready to use (this can be made a day or two ahead).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees to cook bacon. Also preheat grill to high heat for the chicken breasts.
Line a large baking sheet with tin foil (with the dull side facing up), add the strips of bacon, and bake for 13-15 minutes. Place bacon on a plate lined with paper towels, and set aside to cool. When cool, chop bacon into ½-inch pieces.
Meanwhile, season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Spritz with grill spray and grill 6-8 minutes per side, depending on how large each breast is. Use a digital thermometer to temp chicken – and make sure internal temperature of chicken is 165F. Allow chicken to rest for 5 minutes, then slice into ¼-inch slices and cut slices into bite-sized pieces.
Cook pasta to package instructions, stirring in 1 tablespoon salt to the water before adding pasta for flavor. Drain cooked pasta and set aside.
Slice and cut avocados into 1 inch pieces. Cut the tomatoes in half.
Add the pasta, bacon, grilled chicken, red onions, avocado, and tomatoes to a large bowl. Pour dressing over and fold all the ingredients together.
Serve at room temperature or chill and serve cold.
If possible make dressing ahead at least 1 hour to allow flavors to come together.