As a teenager, I first saw Macaroni Salad as an offering at cookouts, but never understood the concept. It was unthinkable for my family to serve a dish where macaroni was mixed with mayonnaise and eaten cold. I tried a bite and it was awful. I was brought up where food should never be left on a plate, but I had to break that rule. It was one of those situations where you moved it around on the plate to make it look like you ate some followed by placing your napkin over it to hide the evidence.
One night, my husband ordered take out and brought home a small container of Macaroni Salad. After being with him most of my life, this was the first time I saw him eating the stuff. I asked him why he would buy such a thing. He responded he saw it at the deli and craved some. He used to have it all the time as a kid. He said it was pretty good and offered me a bite. I reluctantly took one. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t great either. It did spark a challenge for me to create a Macaroni Salad worth eating.
The secret to creating a good pasta salad dish is to cook the pasta one minute past the ‘al dente’ time suggested on package. This is only true when making a cold pasta dish. If the pasta was cooked al dente – slightly uncooked – it becomes chewy and hard when it cools. Cook one minute more than recommended and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.
For the coating, mayonnaise is paired with sour cream and mixed with a little sugar, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Red onion, sweet red pepper, diced zucchini, diced yellow squash, and shredded cheddar cheese make great additions. That combination of simple flavors and textures make a Macaroni Salad worth serving.
Cook the macaroni as recommended on package. If the package gives a time for al dente, cook one minute more. Rinse with cold water and drain. Transfer to a large bowl.
Dice the red onion, red pepper, zucchini, and yellow squash. Add to the cooked pasta.
Mix in the mayo, sour cream, salt, pepper, sugar, and garlic powder.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
I call this Macaroni Salad, but you can use whichever pasta you like. Tri-colored rotini makes a great presentation.
This Macaroni Salad will be requested at cookouts over and over. I hope you give it a try and…Enjoy!
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup sour cream*
- 1 cup red pepper, diced
- 1 cup yellow squash, diced**
- 1 cup zucchini, diced
- ½ cup red onion, diced
- ½ cup (2 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ pound macaroni, or pasta of choice
- Cook the macaroni as recommended on package. If the package gives a time for al dente, cook one minute more. Rinse with cold water and drain. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Add the diced vegetables to the cooked pasta.
- Mix in the mayo, sour cream, salt, pepper, sugar, and garlic powder.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
**You may use double the amount of zucchini instead of yellow squash.
The measurements for the vegetables do not have to be exact. It happens to average out to 1 cup per veggie, but a little over or under is no big deal.