When you think of macaroni salad, you probably think of it as a summer side dish. What about serving it up year-round - along side a hot dog, or a burger, or even some fantastic ribs!
Chef Jeff has gotten accolades from friends and family with this simple macaroni salad recipe. It will provide you with a very delicious base salad that you can doctor up to suit your tastes.
Chef Jeff says that the key to great macaroni salad is the cook time and tenderness of the macaroni. If you follow the directions on a standard box of elbow macaroni, it will say to cook the noodles in rapidly boiling water for 8-10 minutes. If you are making a cooked pasta dish, this amount of time may work; but for the best macaroni salad, cooking your noodles for 7 minutes, tops, is recommended.
Your noodles should be slightly firm - just a little more firm than al dente, when you get that toothy bite to your pasta. Cooking the macaroni to this point is very important. Although the noodles will appear to be half-cooked, and a bit underdone, you want them to have the ability to absorb the sauce that you will create so every noodle captures maximum flavor. Once the noodles absorb the combined ingredients, the macaroni salad will remain firm for about 5 days, which is the maximum recommended shelf life.
1/4 cup minced red pepper (or finely grated)
1/4 cup minced onion (or finely grated)
1/4 cup minced carrots (or finely grated)
3 quarts boiling water
1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
1 tsp salt to add to boiling water
1 tsp salt to add to final mixture
1/4 tsp black pepper to add to the final mixture (or more to taste)
1 cup mayonnaise (It may appear to be a lot, but once the salad sets for a few hours, the noodles will absorb the extra.)
1. Boil the water.
2. Once the water is at a rolling boil, add 1 teaspoon of salt.
3. Add the 1 1/2 cups of uncooked macaroni. (A 1 lb. box of macaroni yields 2.5 cups. Double this recipe if you are using a whole box of macaroni. Keep the boiling time to 7 minutes though!)
4. Set a timer for 7 minutes or Chef Jeff will come to your house with the macaroni police and hunt you down. 7 MINUTE MACARONI is all you will need to remember. Stir the noodles once every minute so your noodles don't stick together.
5. Drain the noodles and rinse them under the coldest water possible. (If you're impatient like me, dump some ice cubes on them for good measure and let them melt as you rinse your noodles.)
6. Set your noodles aside.
7. In the same pot you just boiled your noodles in, combine the remaining ingredients, adding the noodles last and stir them all up.
8. Do NOT taste this now. Really, we mean it. Go put it in the refrigerator for 2 - 3 hours and forget about it until then. If you disobey us and taste this macaroni salad right after it's made, it will not resemble the taste of the final product.
It's important that the vegetables are very finely chopped. Chef Jeff has had individuals who did not care for vegetables in their
macaroni salad totally enjoy this one because he used his amazing knife skills and chopped the onions, pepper, and carrots like crazy (or if you're like me you'll give your food processor a workout).
Large pieces of vegetables change the taste completely. That's not a good thing. Make sure to include any juices left behind while
cutting the vegetables or watching the food processor do it for you. The juice greatly adds to the final flavors.
This is a base macaroni salad. It tastes fantastic as-is; however consider the following additions (not all at once!) to fine tune it to your expectations. (These additions can really rock a potato salad, too!)
- Add 1 Tbsp white vinegar if you like a tart snap to your salad
- Add 1/2 Tbsp dried dill weed or 1 Tbsp fresh dill weed (1 of Chef Jeff's favorites)
- Add chilled, chopped hard boiled eggs (The Lady in Red votes for this addition!)
- Add 1/4 tsp dry or regular mustard to kick up the spice
- Add 1/4 tsp sage for a nice floral back flavor
- Add 2 Tbsp chopped bacon for a smoky, meaty addition
- Add 2 Tbsp sour cream to add a sour note
- Add 1 tsp (or more) of regular sugar to add a sweet back note
- Add 1/4 cup of minced celery (Get out the food processor again!)
- Add 1/4 cup de-seeded tomato, cut into very small pieces
- Add 1/4 cup chopped, and towel dried roasted peppers.
- Add 1-2 Tbsp finely chopped pickles to add an extra zest (The Lady in Red is a fan of macaroni (and potato) salad pickliciousness.)
- Add 1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley or cilantro leaves for vibrant fresh flavor
Nutritional Information Per Serving:
This analysis is based upon a 1/2 cup serving.
Fat: 20 g
Carbs: 18 g
Protein: 2 g
Sodium: 320 mg
Sugar: 3 g
Potassium: 0 mg
Cholesterol: 10 mg
Vit A: 87% (of daily)
Vit C: 12% (of daily)
Calcium: 1% (of daily)
Iron: 1% (of daily)
Fiber: 1 g
*NOTE: These figures are only estimates. They are provided as-is and may be inaccurate depending on individual ingredient choices and measurements. This should be used only as a general assessment. This is not intended to diagnose or treat any ailment or deficiency, but to provide an estimated nutritional profile. The term (“of daily”) is based on a 2000 calorie diet.