The simple complexity of macaroni salad always eluded me. A staple at all Texan delis and potlucks, this seemingly simple salad was the first dish that I had ever made for a party. I remember thinking naively, ‘how hard can it be? all it requires is mixing macaroni and mayonnaise, no stress’. And that’s exactly what I did. But what that resulted in, was chewy (almost raw) sticky macaroni balled up in one corner of the tray and a runny mayo dressing puddled at the other end – a crummy visual depiction of the parted red sea. The best compliments that night, were smiles as bland as the salad.
But bad as the salad was, it dished out a good life lesson – simple doesn’t mean easy. Macaroni salad isn’t very difficult at all, but a hurried mayo-macaroni mix ends up being monotonously bland with the dressing hardly seeping into the pasta. Over time, and several okayish macaroni salads later, I learned and adapted into this recipe, a few minor but transforms-the-dish tricks.
As the weather turns picnic-perfect, it’s a great time for macaroni salad. And if you’re planning on macaroni salad, don’t make the same mistake I did. Instead, invest a few more minutes and transform the ubiquitous mayo-macaroni mix into a creamy summer delight. Pair them with these gorgeous fall-off-the-bone BBQ ribs and cook up some warm summer memories.
Why Should You Boil Macaroni Until Soft?
Cooking macaroni beyond al dente, until soft (tender to press) will allow it to absorb the dressing better, and season every bite of the salad with a mildly pungent, cheesy creaminess. Also, the springy texture of soft macaroni complements the crunchiness of farm-fresh carrots and celery.
Making Macaroni Salad:
Make the Dressing:
In a small bowl take mayonnaise, full-fat cream, and Dijon mustard. Mix until well blended and keep aside.
Cook the Pasta:
Bring a large saucepan of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add elbow macaroni and cook until tender (around 15 minutes). Drain the pasta into a colander and instantly place the colander into a bowl of ice water, to shock the pasta and stop the cooking process. Keep for a minute, and then remove and allow the pasta to sit and drain for 5 minutes.
Assemble Macaroni Salad:
Take macaroni in a large serving bowl, add dressing and chopped vegetables. Using a spatula, mix and fold dressing into the salad.
Macaroni salad tastes best when served cold, especially if you’re making them for summer BBQs or cookouts. So, refrigerate for at least two hours and serve. While serving, remove small quantities of the salad in a serving dish and let the rest remain cool in the refrigerator.
1 ½ cups of cooked elbow macaroni
3 tbsp. of mayonnaise
3 tbsp. of full-fat cream
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
2-3 sprigs of spring onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp, ground black peppercorns
1 to 1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
- For the dressing, mix mayonnaise, full-fat cream, and Dijon mustard in a bowl.
- In a large saucepan, bring well-salted water to a boil. Add elbow macaroni and cook for about 15 minutes until tender. Transfer into a colander. Place the colander in a bowl of ice-cold water for a minute and then remove. Allow pasta to rest for 5 minutes.
- After pasta is completely drained, transfer it into a large serving bowl. Pour the dressing on top, add chopped vegetables and fold until well mixed. Chill for at least 2 hours and serve cold.