It’s BBQ and picnic season! With most of San Francisco fully vaxxed; get togethers are in full swing! I’m not going to lie, I have never been so happy to see tourists in the neighborhood and Alamo Square littered with elaborate picnic setups.
That brings me to this glorious Macaroni Salad! I basically live for pasta salads (not dramatic at all), and I think this bad boy is a winner!
I often have bone to pick with Macaroni Salads. Two of my biggest issues are overcooked noodles which results in a gross-gummy texture and waaaaay too much sauce that’s basically pure mayo. No thanks guys!
This version has a fair amount if veggies and a balanced dressing. I usually have some sauce left over and use it for coleslaw the next day.
A crucial part of this recipe is not to overcook the pasta. Remove the pasta 60 seconds shy of al dente. The noodles will soften more once they’re coated in the sauce and sit in the fridge. Overcooked noodles will straight up ruin any pasta salad. Trust me on this one!
- 1 large pot
- 1 strainer
- 1 wooden spoon
- 1 large bowl with tight fitting lid
- 8 oz dry macaroni elbows
- ½ red onion finely diced
- 1 cup celery sliced lengthwise into thirds; finely diced
- 1 red pepper seeds and ribs removed; finely diced
- ½ cup carrots peeled and grated
- ½ cup dill pickles chopped
- 2 tbsp sweet pickle relish
- 2 tbsp dill pickle juice
- ¾ cup mayonnaise like Hellmans
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar may sub apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp dijon I opt for whole grain
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp kosher salt plus more to taste
- ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
- ¼ tsp poppyseeds plus more for serving
- tabasco a few dashes
- 1 scallion sliced; for garnish
- First thing’s first; let’s prepare the dressing. In a medium-sized bowl, combine sweet pickle relish, pickle juice, mayo, sour cream, red wine vinegar, sugar, dijon, garlic powder, salt, pepper, poppyseeds, and tabasco; whisk until well-combined. Set aside while we cook the macaroni.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When the water is at a rolling boil, add 2 tbsp salt, stir; return to a boil before adding pasta. Cook pasta as per package instructions but remove 90 seconds shy of al dente. It really important not to overcook the pasta! Drain well; do not rinse!
- In a large bowl, combine macaroni, red onion, celery, red pepper, carrot, and dill pickles; stir until well-combined. Add the sauce a few spoonfuls at a time, mixing as you go. Cover and place in the fridge for minimum 1 hour but it’s best to leave it overnight.
- I always have a little sauce leftover. I either use it for coleslaw or mix it into the macaroni salad the next day if it’s too dry.
- Garnish with sliced green onions and poppyseeds. I added some microgreens purely for a hint of purple.