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Cool and Creamy Macaroni Salad


We used plenty of water when cooking our Cool and Creamy Macaroni Salad to ensure that the pasta cooked evenly and efficiently. We seasoned the water generously with salt to flavor the pasta. To prevent the salad from drying out, we drained the pasta briefly but made sure to leave a little water on the pasta. That way, the macaroni absorbed the water instead of the mayonnaise.

We stirred the seasonings into the pasta first before adding the mayonnaise, allowing the seasonings to add deeper flavor to the pasta without being drowned out by the mayonnaise.

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  • Barilla is our favorite brand of elbow macaroni. We like Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise (also known as Best Foods). You can substitute Hellmann’s Light, but we’re not fans of Hellmann’s Low Fat Mayonnaise. And skip the Miracle Whip; it’s too sweet here.
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni (see note)
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1 celery rib, minced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise (see note)
  • For a twist, add, 1 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 6 tablespoons drained capers, chopped
  • Or
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup mango chutney
  • The Silver Palate Mango Chutney
  • Lemon juice, zest, and white wine vinegar make this thick preserve especially tart to some tasters, while others appreciate the way the acid balances the sweetness of the mango.



Step 1

1. COOK PASTA Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta and cook until al dente, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain in colander and rinse with cold water until cool. Drain again briefly and transfer to large bowl.

2. MAKE DRESSING Stir in onion, celery, parsley, lemon juice, mustard, garlic powder, and cayenne and let sit until flavors are absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add mayonnaise and let sit until salad is no longer watery, 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve. (Salad can be refrigerated, covered, for 2 days.)

Rinse and Drain

Rinsing the cooked elbow macaroni in cold running water for about a minute stops its cooking but lets you get on with yours; you couldn't add mayonnaise to hot pasta. Also the water rinses away excess starch, which helps prevent the elbows from sticking together. Next, drain the pasta—but not too well. If the pasta is too dry, it will soak up the mayonnaise dressing and become heavy and gummy. The pasta should be slightly moist when you dress it.

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