As I am typing this it is about 8pm and my husband and son’s just got home from baseball practice. I have grilled some Hebrew National hot dogs and also cut up some watermelon. I also have this macaroni salad on the menu. And my always-hungry 15 year old has piled macaroni salad onto his hot dog and he’s having a little bit of a heart attack about it. So if you are looking to get creative with this mac salad, try adding it onto your hot dog as a topping.
Just about as summery as it gets
I cannot imagine making this in the winter or even the fall. Macaroni salad is strictly a summer thing. Maybe a late spring thing if I am feeling spontaneous. It is also important that it has a chance to get chilled in the fridge. Not essential, but definitely more delicious. It’s also one of those things that is way better after sitting in the fridge for a couple days. So definitely save a little for yourself in the back of the fridge.
My Grandma Sally
My mom’s mom was named Sally. Grandma Sally was as wonderful a grandma as a kid should get to have. She immigrated from Ireland in her late teens and never went back. She loved me and my sisters so much and was always around for big important moments and even the small and mundane. I remember Sunday dinners at her house with meatloaf and lemon meringue pie. And macaroni salad.
Sadly, I don’t have her exact recipe. But this is a good substitute. It has all the things she had in her mac salad. Small pasta, crunchy veggies and a creamy mayonnaise-based dressing. Someday I will go after her lemon meringue pie recipe. My mom does have that one, but I haven’t really tried to make it. My mom says that pie was a thing. She could make a killer crust. To me, that’s an art form. I think I will just stick with my easy key lime pie for now.
Notes on preparation
- Yes, of course, you can change up the vegetables in this. Some halved grape or cherry tomatoes would be right up my alley. Green onion would also be lovely. I would say just do a little of whatever is in your produce drawers in your fridge.
- Leave out some of the dressing. Or don’t. I usually leave a little out, taste and then see if it needs more.
- To me, the key is vegetables diced small. Generally, the veggies shouldn’t be bigger than the pasta.
This is the macaroni salad that is just like my Grandma Sally's. A creamy dressing, some crunchy veggies and pasta make it pure comfort food.
- 1 pound small pasta, like ditalini or macaroni
- 2 cups diced cucumber
- 1 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 cup grated red cabbage
- 1½ cups mayonnaise
- ¼ cup milk
- 1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta according to package directions. Once cooked, drain and rinse under cold water to cool down. Drain well and pour into a large bowl
- Combine the cucumber, red bell pepper, carrots and cabbage. Mix until combined and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, milk, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Whisk until smooth and well-combined. Pour over the pasta and vegetables. Stir well, folding in the dressing.
- Best served chilled.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Pasta, Salad, Side Dish
Keywords: Pasta salad