Cook macaroni (8 oz.) according to directions in salted water. Drain and rinse with cold water. Shake to remove as much excess water as possible. While the pasta is cooking, prep the rest of the ingredients (cook the bacon, chop the veggies, etc.).
In a large bowl, mix together the mayonnaise (1/2 cup), milk (2 tablespoons), apple cider vinegar (1 tablespoon), garlic powder (1 teaspoon), fresh chopped parsley (1/4 cup), three sliced green onions, kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon), and black pepper (1/4 teaspoon). If making ahead of time, reserve half the dressing in a separate container (see notes).
Add the cooked and cooled pasta, the cherry tomatoes (2 cups), and the torn romaine lettuce (3 cups) to the bowl with the dressing. Mix together until dressing coats everything.
Serve garnished with reserved bacon, parsley, and green onions if desired.
If making ahead of time, reserve half the dressing to toss with the pasta salad just before serving. I also recommend prepping the cherry tomatoes and lettuce, and stirring them in just before serving as well, to avoid them becoming mushy.
Ingredient substitutions: Gluten-free, whole wheat, or grain-free pasta (such as chickpea) may be used in place of regular pasta; diced red onion may be used instead of green onions; lemon juice or another vinegar may be used instead of apple cider vinegar; another lettuce or baby greens may be substituted for romaine; milk may be omitted, or a milk alternative for a dairy-free version; prepared ranch dressing may be used as a shortcut in place of the homemade dressing.
For a lighter version, use turkey bacon or a vegetarian bacon substitute and Greek yogurt or mashed avocado instead of mayo (add more salt to taste if you do this).
For a richer taste, reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease to stir into the dressing.
Servings: This recipe serves 8-10 as a side; 4-6 as a main. Nutrition information is estimated at 8 servings.