Macaroni Salad

Macaroni Salad Recipe

A fresh take on classic macaroni salad. If you invite my dad to a picnic, barbecue, housewarming, or block party this time of year, odds are good he'll show up with a macaroni salad. He'll wheel it around in a cooler and when the time is right, he'll flip the top and pull a cornflower blue bowl from the ice. The bowl is what I notice first, ceramic with a flower detail on the inside rim, it's part of a set of three my grandma left when she died a few years back. This one is medium-sized, and makes its appearance with plastic wrap across the top, secured with a rubber band. I love those bowls, and I'm extra careful when I wash them.

Macaroni Salad Recipe

I've had my dad's macaroni salad twice in the last ten days, and instead of sharing his version, which is the classic take on it - I was inspired to take a stab at my own version. I ended up making a sauce from lots of sautéed green onions (scallions). Pureed with a bit of pasta water they're creamy without the cream or mayo. Beyond that, I added diced apple, lots of black pepper, arugula, and lemon juice as well. And I stopped there. But I suspect any number of other additions would be good - Marcona almonds, dried apricots in place of the apple, and if you can't be convinced macaroni salad is worth eating without mayo in the mix, a dollop would do the job. An alternative to the mayo would be a bit of salted plain yogurt, or creme fraiche. It works great on day-old macaroni salad, when you need to moisten things up a bit.

The last thing I'll add here is this. You really need to taste and adjust as you toss this salad. I've shared general amounts, but keep adding pepper, or lemon juice, or salt until the flavors really pop off the pasta. It'll happen. Under-season and you end up with a flat-tasting salad. :/

Macaroni Salad

I use whole wheat elbow macaroni here, and it works beautifully if you can find it. Leftovers are great for a couple days, but the pasta continues to absorb the sauce, so you might want to moisten things up with a bit of mayo at this point, or creme fraiche, or some salted plain yogurt.

1 pound elbow macaroni

1/4 cup / 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced green onions {~3-4 bunches}
3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
fine grain sea salt
lots of freshly ground black pepper
zest and juice of one lemon
1/3 cup / 2 oz grated Parmesan

4 big handfuls arugula
1 large apple, diced

Cook the macaroni in a large pot of well-salted water per package instructions. Set aside at least 1/2 cup / 120ml pasta water. Then drain pasta and set aside.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large skillet until hot. Add most of the green onions, all of the garlic, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onions soften, and the garlic begins to take on some color, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for a couple minutes.

Use a hand blender or food processor to puree the green onion mixture along with 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, zest of the lemon, half the lemon juice, and the reserved pasta water. Puree and taste. The green onion flavor should be assertive. Stir in the Parmesan.

Combine the macaroni with the green onion sauce in a large bowl. Toss well. Add the arugula and most of the apple and toss again. Taste, and add more pepper, salt, or lemon juice if needed. Serve topped with the remaining apple and green onion.

Makes enough for a crowd or potluck.

Prep time: 10 minutes - Cook time: 10 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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