25 November 2011

Classic Macaroni Salad - and Tuna Macaroni Salad, If You Must

Macaroni salad is not the same as pasta salad. I'll post my more fashionable, vegetable-heavy, vinaigrette-dressed pasta salad another time. This is old-fashioned (retro) macaroni salad, comfort food from way before anyone ever thought of pasta salad, though I did make this batch with mezze penne instead of my usual salad macaroni. I definitely prefer the salad macaroni, but that would have meant another trip to the store! 

Classic macaroni salad is a hit at any picnic, potluck or barbecue (Notice I said "barbecue," not "BBQ," which is one of those things I just hate!). It's great for Game Days, too, if you're into that sort of thing. I made this batch for friends who were going camping over Thanksgiving week.

After all these years, my husband and I have simply agreed to disagree about macaroni salad. He grew up with tuna macaroni salad, and I'm sorry, but that's just crazy! But I'll let him contaminate half a batch with tuna, and I'll keep half a batch as it should be. So, tell me, whose side are you on?

Macaroni Salad for Her / Tuna Salad For Him

(Makes 12 Servings)

8 large eggs
1 1-pound package salad macaroni
2 tablespoons sweet pickle juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
3/4 cup finely chopped sweet pickles or sweet relish
3/4 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup or more finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped onion, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup or more finely chopped red bell pepper, patted dry
1 3/4 cup real mayonnaise, divided
1 tablespoon coarse Dijon mustard

Options for the half with tuna:
1 5-ounce can tuna, drained and flaked
1 cup frozen peas, thawed but not cooked
12 pimiento-stuffed green olives, chopped

1 To hard-cook eggs, place eggs in 3-quart saucepan and cover with cold water to at least one inch above eggs. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to keep water just simmering. Cover; cook eggs 20 minutes. Cool at once in cold water. (Notice that the egg yolks are yellow and velvety, not orange and shiny-gooey!)  

2 Cook macaroni al dente according to package directions in 5-quart Dutch oven. Put in colander. Rinse repeatedly with cold water until macaroni is cool. Drain thoroughly. Put back in pan.

3 Sprinkle pickle juice, salt, pepper and parsley flakes over cooked and cooled macaroni. (Sure, you can use fresh parsley if you have it; but I didn't. Dill can be good, too.) Stir in pickles, carrot, celery, onion, red bell pepper, 1 1/4 cups of the mayonnaise, and the mustard.

4 When ready to add eggs to salad, use egg slicer to slice eggs. Reserve 7 slices for garnish (14, if using 2 bowls); cover and refrigerate. Roughly chop remaining slices and add to salad. Transfer salad to 3-quart serving dish (or two 1.5-quart bowls), cover and refrigerate. Chill for at least 4 hours; but making it a day ahead is best.

5 Before serving, stir in the reserved mayonnaise (perhaps not all of it, or perhaps a bit more), as the macaroni will have absorbed the first portion and will likely be rather dry. (And this would be the case no matter how much you put in the first time!) Garnish with reserved egg slices and perhaps a bit of chopped fresh parsley or dill, if you have it.

The Tuna Option: Divide salad between two 1.5-quart bowls; add tuna, peas and olives to just one of them.


Unknown said...

I LOVE macaroni salad! It was my favorite thing to get when we went to potlucks when I was a kid. I still love it today and I make it quite often despite Chris' protests! lol
I had a friend who grew up eating tuna mac salad too.. thought she was crazy. As I got older and found my love for tuna, I will admit, I add it on occasion just to change it up a bit!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Okay, I can see you're one of these people who don't want to take sides, Jenn! :D I'm just not that keen on tuna. I love a good tuna salad sandwich, but other than that ... no.

Cranberry Morning said...

Actually, I like both. They just seem like two very different things, and I can hardly pass up the olives. And as far as the tuna goes, I would want chicken, not tuna, in mine.
And I always use Tinkyada Penne Pasta.

If I made yours, I would serve it with a grilled chicken breast. If I made his, I would serve it with a few potato chips on the side. :-)

Cranberry Morning said...

P.S. I hate to tell you this, but I put the recipe in my 'Pasta Dishes' folder. Sorry.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Well, that's okay, Judy, we have to put things *some*where. I just wouldn't want people to think this was my idea of *pasta* salad, when it's really the old-fashioned comfort food classic!

Aren't the Tinkyada pastas great!

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

Sides? You want I should pick a side? How about a side of beef?

Here is MY recipe for Macaroni/pasta/tuna/olive/pimentos/parsley etc. etc. etc.:
Open any size can of tuna with screwdriver or electric drill, bend lid into v-shaped spoon, scoop out tuna and try to eat without amputating tongue or lacerating lips. Give macaroni/pasta to worst enemy. Call it a day, and try not to drool blood on nuns or children.

There. Problem solved. Everyone happy? Don't thank me…someone has to bring peace to Hell’s Kitchen when it deviates into health and starch. :-) (Oh, your readers are gonna hate me...)

Big Dude said...

Both of these sound delicious. When you buy a corned beef, it is the leaner brisket flat muscle and it is separated by a thick fat layer from the smaller, fatter point or deckle muscle. Next time you go to Walmart have a look - they usually have the flat and the whole brisket. Small photo here - http://homecooking.about.com/od/beef/a/brisketcuts.htm

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Sully, I don't think anyone has ever used "health" and "starch" in the same sentence before. And I make no health claims about macaroni salad, though it does have a few barely visible vegetable bits that might have thrown you off!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

I've only cooked the flat brisket. I've never seen the point cut anywhere. I'll have to talk to my favorite grassfed organic beef rancher in Wyoming about it. Thanks for the info and photo!

Karen | Divine Dinner Party said...

Do I really have to choose? Can I just have a taste of both? I think that's very difficult to do since I'm very certain they're both tasty and delicious... ;)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Karen! I'm sure my husband would let you have a serving of his half with the tuna. He again tried to get me to try some, and I again declined!

Anonymous said...

Jean-- Funny as always! I love your easy and real approach to your topics and recipes. Hmmm...my first thought was to say I wouldn't take sides...but my first choice is without tuna. After that...well, these days I just might add some canned wild salmon into that classic macaroni salad--but only if I was rummaging through the cupboards looking for ingredients---and only if the salmon sounded good to me at this moment.

I, of course, am very influenced by your yummy picture and want to head into the kitchen to make a batch of the classic mac.

BTW--the Pumpkin Tea Cakes were a perfect consistency--and not too sweet. I did drop the sugar a bit and upped the cinnamon a bit---both good for blood sugar control! Unfortunately they're so cute you can pop one after another into your mouth....

Thanks for your great taste and eye!

Susan Meyerott

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Susan! (of http://lightartedliving.blogspot.com/) But I'm not trying it with salmon either! I'm just a macaroni salad purist, I guess. Glad the pumpkin tea cakes turned out well for you. But you're right about the one-after-another danger!

Anonymous said...

Jean--made and am eating the classic maacaroni salad. Yummmm. Perfect.

Susan Meyerott

Sippity Sup said...

This is the kind of Macaroni we all secretly adore. No apologies... GREG

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Susan, that's wonderful! I'd be happy to just have the hard-boiled eggs right now.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Greg, you always make me smile. The "we all secretly adore" made me laugh out loud! Thank you.

Charles said...

I don't think I've ever heard of such a dish as this! I make pasta salads - usually with pasta, red pepper, onion, cucumber and tomato, mixed with crême fraiche, mayonnaise etc, but never knew there was such a thing as this. I can see the benefits to keeping it fish-free, although I wouldn't mind trying both varieties first before passing judgement! Looks nice :)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Charles! I'm thinking you might be from a country other than the US, as macaroni salad is pretty common here. Even here, it might be kind of a regional thing. Your pasta salad sounds really good too!

tori said...

Perfect, perfect comfort food. love it.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Tori! I do enjoy fine dining and doing some fancy-schmancy in the kitchen, but some days there's just nothing like good old-fashioned comfort food!

Javelin Warrior said...

I am a HUGE fan of macaroni salad and I completely agree - tuna has NO place in the traditional salad :) However, I do always add chunks of cheddar cheese - which is also not traditional but I can't resist the combination of cheese with mayonnaise! Thanks for sharing...

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Javelin! I can't think of anything that's not good with little chunks of cheddar cheese! And amen to cheese and mayonnaise - Sometimes I snack on a little slice of cheddar with just a shmear of good mayonnaise.

Anonymous said...

Very Good! I'm for the NO Tuna version. To make some seperate with tuna for your man is nice though :)!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks! Yes, I treat him pretty well - I even cut up fruit for him so he doesn't have to deal with seeds or pits!