Thursday, June 5, 2014

Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad With A Twist...Or Two

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First of all let me tell you that macaroni salad is not one of my favorites.  No, I am in the coleslaw camp. When it comes to fried chicken, ribs, or hamburgers and there's a choice between salads there is no question which one I pick.  Not so my daughter.  She is on the macaroni salad camp.  . The problem is that there's only two of us and when we order our favorite fried chicken (yes, Lindaraxa eats other people's food sometimes) it is kind of ridiculous to order both. So I have ceded sometimes and gotten to tolerate it.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed this salad on the Williams Sonoma blog and I immediately thought of her. It looked different and delicious, a different twist on the old favorite she was so fond of. Why not surprise her.

As I reread the recipe I felt something was not quite right.  The measurements in the dressing and the rest of the ingredients seemed very skimpy for the amount of pasta involved.  There was no way that 2/3 cup of dressing was going to cover three cups of uncooked macaroni.  Not being one to change a recipe until after I have tried it, I went ahead with it and, sure enough, I was right, it was blah.  I am not one to like salads overdressed, particularly pasta salads, but the results here were not the same as those pictured in the recipe.  Another thing that had appealed to me was what looked to be a fairly even distribution between pasta and "crunch" and again, it was not there.

After tasting the final product and playing around with it at the end, I have changed quantities a bit and added a thing or two, including 1 teaspoon of sweet pickle relish at the end.  You be the judge but do try it, the flavor is simply delicious.  The olives and pickles are a stroke of genius.  It would be a standout at any outdoor event, including next weekend's Father's day.  One thing you can do is cook the three cups of pasta and reserve one to mix at the end in case you feel it needs it.

A great pairing with pulled pork sandwiches!

Make the salad at least a day ahead to help the flavors meld.  It keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator and improves with time.

As a further endorsement, we have now found a macaroni salad we both enjoy and the recipe has gone into the keepers file.  We were still eating it four days after Labor Day!

Old-Fashioned Macaroni Salad With a Twist...Or Two

2 cups (10 1/2 oz./330 g.) elbow macaroni*(I used Barilla)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the dressing:
1/3 cup (3 fl. oz./80 ml.) mayonnaise
1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g.) sour cream
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1-2 tsp. sweet pickle juice

1/2 white onion, finely chopped
3 celery ribs, finely chopped, leaves reserved and finely chopped
3 sweet pickles, finely chopped
1/2 red pepper chopped (optional)
2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g.) pimiento-stuffed green olives, chopped
1/2 bunch fresh chives, snipped

1 tsp. sweet pickle relish (optional)

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, add the macaroni, and cook until tender, according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold running water and set aside to drain.

To make the dressing, in a serving bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, pickle juice, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir to mix well.

Add the onion, celery and pickles and stir to mix again. Add the macaroni and turn to coat. Add the hard-cooked eggs, green olives and celery leaves and turn once again. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, if needed.  Add the teaspoon of sweet pickle relish if you want.  Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with the snipped chives, and serve. Serves 6.

*Original calls for 3 cups

Adapted from the original recipe, Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad With Sweet Pickles by Georgianne Brennan for Williams Sonoma

All photos Lindaraxa



  1. I'm like you -- have never been a macaroni salad fan -- potato is a better starch than macaroni IMO but with the herbs and the olives and your recommendation, I will have to give this a try.

  2. I too would pick coleslaw over macaroni salad. However, this one does look good. I think the ingredients may work well with potatoes too. What do you think?

  3. I've never been a macaroni salad fan either and much prefer potato salad as does Martha above. I have to say the olives and the red pepper won me over in this one though.

  4. I LOVE a good macaroni salad and this one sounds excellent. Looking forward to trying this sometime this week. Our Father's Day celebration this year will be a brunch with the whole family coming but this macaroni salad looks wonderful to nibble on over the weekend.


    1. Ladies, we ate it non stop for three days after labor day. Goes well with ribs, sandwiches, fried chicken and especially pulled pork. Chronica, you may be on to something there. I think I will try the ingredients with potato salad. Good call!

  5. This sounds so good… unlike almost all the blah macaroni salads. I am, however, in the macaroni camp vs. cole slaw. Cole slaw is too iffy: it depends on so many different ingredients and amounts and I find it is almost impossible to get it right! So I will try this; going to print out right now.

  6. I absolutely LOVED this salad. I was the envy of the office when i came in with a big tupperware full of it. I love the blend of creamy and crunchy. This salad has all of my favorite things. Thanks Mommy!


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