Macaroni Salad makes a terrific summertime lunch and is made for taking to gatherings. Simple to prepare and as diverse as you want it to be, this is a great classic pasta salad. With a dressing made with a combination of mayonnaise and yoghurt, it’s still beautifully creamy yet lower in fat. All the flavour and less guilt!
I think you’d be hard pressed to find an Aussie who hasn’t had Macaroni Salad in some form. Whether from the deli at the local supermarket, or posh version from gourmet stores, it’s a staple – especially in summer.
And if you’ve ever been unimpressed by the overly mayo-heavy, overly sour or overly sweet or overly oily store bought version, here’s a classic Macaroni Salad that I think you’ll really love!
LIGHTER DRESSING FOR PASTA SALAD
I think there’s a misconception that you need ALOT of mayo to make a great Macaroni Salad, with people believing that mayo is the key to flavour. And many of us probably grew up with Macaroni Salads made with mayo only dressings.
I personally find mayo-only dressings far too heavy, so I always lighten up mayo dressings with either sour cream or yoghurt, and sometimes even milk.
Less flavour? NO! Never, ever! Mayonnaise does bring flavour to dressings, so all I do to compensate for using less is to increase the seasoning. And I absolutely insist that the pasta must be cooked in salted water. Truly. It’s little tricks like this that can make all the difference to a dish! 🙂
Regular readers know how much I love my sauces and that extends to salad dressings. No pasta salad recipe of mine will ever be lacking in Dressing!
Good thing I have a lightened up creamy dressing because there’s plenty of it!!!
I’ve kept this Macaroni Salad classic. That means, as much as I was tempted, no bacon, no egg, no pickles, no charred red peppers, no chicken, no olives etc etc. I like using grated carrot, capsicum / bell peppers, shallots / scallions for freshness (or red onion), and I really like using celery for a bit of fresh crunch.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to Macaroni Salad add-ins. So I opted to stick with the classic for this first recipe I’m sharing. The classic that is almost mandatory to make an appearance at every Aussie summer BBQ! – Nagi x
MORE SUMMER SALADS to take to gatherings
This is just a great classic, Macaroni Salad. Plenty of creamy dressing that you know and love, but slightly lightened up. All the flavour, less guilt! Feel free to go wild with add ins! This recipe is for a classic side because if you serve this with heavily flavoured mains, lighter sides pair better. Serves 4 as a meal, 8 as a side. Recipe VIDEO below.
- 250 g / 1/2 lb macaroni elbow pasta
- 1 1/2 tbsp salt (to cook pasta)
- 1 cup finely sliced celery
- 3/4 cup finely diced red capsicum / bell peppers
- ¾ cup finely sliced shallots / scallions / green onions
- 1 medium carrot , grated (using standard box grater)
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise (Hellmann's, Best Foods or other whole egg mayonnaise)
- 1/2 cup yoghurt or sour cream, low fat
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp sugar
- 3/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
Bring large pot of water to the boil - 4 to 5 litres / quarts. Add salt then add pasta. Cook per packet directions.
Drain pasta then cool.
Meanwhile, mix Dressing ingredients in a bowl.
Place pasta in a bowl. Add remaining Macaroni Salad ingredients. Pour over Dressing.
Toss. Adjust salt / sugar / sour (vinegar) / mayo to taste.
Set aside for at least 20 minutes. Then serve at room temperature (not cold). It's great the next day too!
1. Lots of add-in potential here. Bacon, ham, egg, grated cheese, chicken, olives, diced chillies - go wild! But if this is for a side dish with other strong flavoured mains, I'd urge you to consider sticking with the a fairly classic version. 🙂 I love KAPOW flavours, but there is such thing as too much in a meal!
2. NON MAYO DRESSING option: I really feel that Macaroni Salad's do require some mayo but if you are really mayo adverse or can't have it, then use more sour cream (instead of mayo, same qty), add 2 tbsp olive oil, and extra flavourings as follows: 1 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, more salt & pepper (because mayo has more flavour than sour cream). Yoghurt is also a healthier option.
3. Nutrition per serving, assuming 8 servings as a side (about 3/4 cup, good amount!)
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
LIFE OF DOZER
When I leave Dozer indoors when I’m out all day and it’s been raining (damn that dog door!!!!).