This quick and easy homestyle macaroni salad is the perfect side dish for your Spring picnics and Summer barbecues!
Is it time to start doing our long weekend happy dance yet?
I hope so because I’m doing it right meow!
For Paul and I, it means four glorious days free of work, appointments, email and errands. Instead we’re finally picking out paint for the upstairs rooms, painting our faces off, and sneaking in a little Raleigh road trip to get our Whole Foods and Trader Joes fix while we still can.
While we’re on the topic of Whole Foods (whole foods… whole paycheck… whole lotta delicious trouble!) let me take a moment to propose the most brilliant idea ever: Whole Foods should have a food blogger discount.
Actually, while we’re at it, they should have a frequent shopper discount too!
The sheer volume of stuff we buy there is a tad obscene. Sure we may frequent the farmers markets, discount grocery stores, and health-centric co-ops, but we still drag our butts into WF like a moth to a flame. Or really, like cookie monster to a double chunk chocolate chip cookie with sprinkles. Mabye they put something in the air there, or possibly lace the hot bar with opiates? I couldn’t quit that store if I tried, not even when my nearest one is over two hours away!
Before this post turns into a love letter to Whole Foods (or a plea for them to give me my life’s savings back) let’s talk weekend barbecues!
Whether you’re hosting or attending one, I’ve got the macaroni salad covered! I’ve tested this particular one several times now and can happily squeal that I found the perfect creamy dressing to smother over pasta and veggies. The greek yogurt adds protein and lightens up the dish’s nutrition stats a bit, while the eggy mayonnaise still delivers that good old-fashioned macaroni salad flavor that we all expect from the dish. Factor in the tangy mustard and vinegar and mix of herbs and spices and you have a super flavorful side dish to wow your friends with!
It’s also ridiculously quick and easy to make, so put down that preservative-packed container of store bought macaroni salad and make this instead!
Homestyle Macaroni Salad
This sassy salad features a dressing with equal parts mayo and greek yogurt, for a tangy sauce that’s lightened up and wildly addictive!
Homestyle Macaroni Salad
Yield 4 servings
- 1 + 3/4 or 2 cups of dry elbow macaroni (or approx 1/2 of a 16 oz box)
- 1 cup of chopped red or green bell pepper
- 1 cup of finely chopped celery (4 stalks/ribs)
- 1/2 cup of finely chopped white or yellow onion
- several stalks of green onion to garnish, chopped
- paprika, for topping
FOR THE DRESSING:
- 1/2 cup of plain, nonfat or lowfat greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup of homemade or store-bought mayo
- 2 TBSP white vinegar
- 1 TBSP dijon mustard
- 1 TBSP yellow mustard
- 1/4-1/2 tsp of dried parsley
- 1/4-1/2 tsp of salt
- 1/4 tsp of garlic powder, plus extra to taste
- any additional salt and pepper, to taste
To make the dressing, whisk together above ingredients. Pour half the dressing over the salad and chill to allow flavors to meld. When you're ready to serve, pour the remainder of the dressing over the salad and dig in!
- Cook the noodles per package directions and drain in a colander.
- Stir in your chopped veggies and pour over approx half the dressing, mixing well.
- Steal a taste and feel free to adjust seasoning as needed.
- Extra garlic is common in this house as is lots of extra bell pepper and green onion - add whatever extra veggies/spices you'd like!
- Pop the entire bowl in the fridge, covered (along with a separate container of the remaining dressing) and allow to cool.
- Add the remainder of the sauce just before serving for maximum creaminess (otherwise those hungry noodles will absorb it all!)
- Dig in that very same day or up to four days later. This is a great potluck/party side dish that can be made in advance or whipped up and served fresh as a last minute addition! With pasta salads, anything goes!
macaroni measurements: a typical 16oz box of dry elbow macaroni will deliver around eight 1/2 cup servings once cooked. If you use half the box (8oz =1 + 3/4 cups of macaroni]) you'll wind up with 4 servings. This will help if you're trying to calculate how much you need for an intimate group. If you're feeding a crowd, by all means make the whole box and skip measuring entirely. Just make sure you whisk together some extra dressing and add extra veggies.
For the peppers, you can use all one color or grab bag of multi-colored sweet mini peppers and get your rainbow on! I did this for the batch pictured in the photos.
Nearly all the delis here in the South add a teaspoon or so of sugar to their dressing to add a bit of sweetness to compliment the tanginess of the mustard and vinegar, feel free to follow suit and add this as well! I’ve tried it both ways and can’t decide which I prefer most! I kept tweaking the ingredients with each batch until I wanted to lick the bowl.
Also, we need to talk ratios here, people.
I’m willing to bet if you’re a regular around here you know what’s coming. ALL. THE. VEGGIES.
special diets and swaps
- vegansaurus chefs you could try using vegan mayonnaise for the sauce or a combination of veganaise and vegan sour cream as well!
- t-rex chefs hard boiled eggs, cubed ham, and/or bacon are common macaroni salad mix-ins if your guests insist on it. I added a teeny bit of smoked paprika to one batch of this sassy macaroni salad and the first thing P said upon tasting it was “is there BACON!?!?” Silly rabbit.
- gluten-free chefs You can 100% make this with your favorite pasta! Chickpea or quinoa pastas are excellent GF swaps for traditional pasta.
so . . . how was it?
Stellar! Sometimes you just need a good old-fashioned southern macaroni salad in your arsenal and this one’s an absolute crowd-pleaser! I love the mix of crisp, refreshing veggies, tender noodles, and creamy, tangy sauce. I could yammer on about it, but I should probably just let you go so you can run to the store and pick up any of the remaining ingredients you need to make this.