The Best Macaroni Salad Ever

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I inherited this recipe from my dear old dad, and I love it for it’s simplicity, and sheer nomminess.  I generally make around 3-1/2 or 4 quarts at a time, because it doesn’t last more than three days if all the kids are home.  Also, it makes the proportions easier.

Warning:  A gallon of macaroni salad is a LOT of salad. Cut this in half unless you’re planning on feeding a party, or intend on eating it for days.

Start out by making a pound of elbow macaroni.  When the nine minutes are up, drain and immediately rinse with cold water until the pasta is barely warm.  Shake out the rest of the water, and put the macaroni in a large bowl to finish cooling.  I highly recommend the cold water step, because it will keep the macaroni firm, and will add a subtle texture to the salad when all is said and done.

While the macaroni is cooling, cut up the veggies.  For a pound of pasta, I use one to one and a half green peppers, several stalks of celery, a large sweet onion (or two smaller ones), and about a half a bunch of Italian parsley.  Everything gets chopped up into smallish chunks – somewhere between 1/8″ and 1/4″ – and added to the macaroni bowl as I go along.

Once all the veggies are added to the bowl, take a large spoon and mix everything together.  Eyeball the proto-salad and make sure there’s a good interspersion of green bits throughout.  If not, add more green pepper and celery.

Now the important part:  The Mayo.  I’m just going to say one thing about mayonnaise choices:  There’s Best Foods/Hellman’s, and there’s everything else.  I’m not getting paid to say this – it’s just the truth.  And if I ever hear of anyone using Miracle-Whip in this, or any of my other recipes, I shall go to their house and bitch-slap them personally.

Anyway, the biggest reason that most macaroni salads (particularly the store-bought ones) fail, is that there’s too much mayonnaise in it.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I love mayo as much as the next guy (okay, maybe more – thank you Costco and your one-gallon tubs), but there really can be ‘too much of a good thing’.  The best way to add mayo to a macaroni salad is a little at a time.  I throw in a healthy dollop and start stirring.  At the same time, I sprinkle in a little salt and pepper – about a two teaspoons, but I just palm it.  When that dollop is incorporated, another dollop goes in, mixed, and so on until everything in the salad is just coated with mayo.  If it looks gloppy, I’ve gone too far.

At this point, a quick taste and perhaps a bit more salt and (more often) pepper to adjust the flavors, and pack it up in containers to rest in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.  Overnight is even better.  I usually give it one last taste test before serving too.

Shopping List:

  • 1 pound of elbow macaroni (the large kind).
  • One or two green peppers.
  • A couple of sweet onions, depending on size.
  • Celery
  • Italian Parsley
  • Hellman’s/Best Foods Mayonnaise (depending on which side of the Mississippi)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Large resealable containers to keep it all in.