The Best Thing You Can Do with Ranch Seasoning (It’s Not Dip)

published Aug 13, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Ranch dressing is beloved in my house — and not just by my two school-aged kids (who will eat almost any vegetable if it comes with a bowl for dipping), but by me as well.

I’m unashamed to make a bountiful farmers market salad and then douse it with my favorite bottled version. And we go through so much that about a year ago I started buying ranch seasoning powder in bulk so that we’d run out less often. Now I find myself reaching for the powdered stuff over and over again — and not just for making veggie dips.

Of the hundreds of ways I’ve used ranch seasoning (including dusting popcorn and putting it in biscuits), one reigns supreme in my home kitchen: adding it to a classic cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) pasta. Seriously. It’s an easy upgrade to a classic dish and the very best thing you can do with ranch seasoning.

Ranch Powder Is an Ingenious Addition to Cacio e Pepe

Pasta with creamy Parmesan and black pepper might seem an unlikely candidate for an upgrade — it is already so simply delicious — but having two kids who loathe black pepper will get you to try nearly anything to bring the dish back into your life.

Whether you’re buying it bulk or making it from scratch, ranch powder packs a flavorful punch of dried herbs, garlic, onions, and salt. The packets also contain a little cornstarch, which helps to thicken the sauce.

How to Make Ranch Cacio e Pepe at Home

Here’s how I make my ranch cacio e pepe at home: While the pasta is boiling, melt a nice knob of butter in a large skillet. Add 2 teaspoons of homemade ranch seasoning or a tablespoon of the packet and let the spices cook for 1 minute before adding the reserved pasta water (scant 1/2 cup) to simmer. Add the noodles, toss to coat, and follow with the Parmesan. I’ve found that sprinkling a handful of thinly sliced green onion on each bowl really dresses it up and brings the ranch flavor home.

Do you love ranch seasoning and have a favorite way to use it? Tell me below; I’ve got a lot to use up.