Most people’s macaroni salad recipe exists only in their heads. Pretty inconvenient, really. It involves a lot of guessing, where one never really remembers how much pasta to use, how much dressing is right, or how much milk to add. Do yourselves a favor. Get your recipe down on paper! People who love your salad will thank you and you will wonder how you went so long without a solid recipe to follow!
This recipe is simple, and classic. Use your preference on the pickles and peppers/tomatoes. I prefer Famous Dave’s Spicy Sweet pickle slices. And lately have been using roasted red peppers for the addition of color.
Most recipes tell you to mix the ingredients together and let sit to blend the flavors before eating. I disagree with this philosophy, as it allows so much liquid to soak into the pasta, resulting in a less creamy salad. I think it’s better to make sure the water you use for cooking the pasta is amply salted, (1 tablespoon salt per gallon of boiling water), and to have a dressing that is well balanced. Prepare your dressing in advance and refrigerate. Prepare your pasta so that it’s not over or under cooked. (Over cooked will become mushy, and even perfectly al dente pasta firms up too much when chilled.) Follow my method of cooking below. Then combine dressing and pasta/additives just before serving. This will guarantee you a rich and super creamy macaroni salad.
1/2 cup chopped pickles–your choice of dill, sweet, or spicy sweet
1/2 cups chopped green onions (6–8)
1/2 cup either diced tomatoes, diced red peppers, diced pimentos, or diced roasted red pepper
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Prepare dressing by whisking together the nine ingredients, and then chilling in the fridge until just before serving.
Fill a large pot with water, adding a tablespoon of table salt for each gallon of water. Over medium-high heat, bring water to a boil and add pasta. If the directions say boil 7 minutes, (typical for macaroni), then start your time as soon as you add the pasta and stir. Let boil on medium-high for the suggested time. When done, immediately drain and rinse with cold water, tossing the pasta as you do so, until pasta is cooled. Drain again and chill until assembly.
Prepare all additives, and set aside until assembly.
Just before serving, toss pasta and additives together and stir in the dressing. I add it all, as I do not like a dry salad at all. You could hold some back if it suits you.