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Picnic Style Macaroni Salad

This is my version of that great American classic - macaroni salad.  The kind our mom's always made and can still be found at barbecues at picnics across the country every weekend.  But something we all know about classic, mayonnaise-based macaroni salad is that when it's not done right it can be downright horrible.  I think the trick is to have a tangy, interesting sauce, not just mayo, and to mix it at the last possible moment to keep it from drying out.  This recipe feeds a lot but can easily be scaled back.

1 pound   (~3 cups) dry macaroni, usually elbows
4 large   hard boiled eggs, chopped
1-6 ounce can   water packed solid white tuna packed, drained (optional)
1 cup   (more or less, to taste) finely diced celery
cup   diced chives (divided)
cup   chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon   paprika
For the Sauce
1 cup   light mayo
cup   light sour cream
1-2 teaspoons   Dijon (or other spicy brown) mustard
2 teaspoons   sugar
2 tablespoons   cider vinegar
S&P to taste

Cook the macaroni according to the package instructions.  Rinse under cool water to stop the cooking, drain and allow to cool thoroughly.

While the macaroni is cooking mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl.  Test the sauce and adjust for your own taste, feel free to use different ratios of ingredients.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Combine the macaroni, eggs, tuna (if using), celery, parsley and half of the chives into a mixing bowl and toss together.

At this point I usually put the sauce and the macaroni into the fridge separately until just before I'm ready serve.  Otherwise the macaroni will absorb much of the sauce causing it to be dry.  You could also mix the macaroni with of the sauce, saving the rest for serving time.  Your experience will determine which is best for you.

Finally, after mixing everything together, garnish with remaining chives and paprika.


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