Picnic Perfect: Classic Macaroni Salad Recipe

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Bobbie says:

It’s Memorial Day weekend and many of you will be marking the day with the first cookout of the summer. Here’s a perennial picnic favorite: Classic Macaroni Salad.

I'm ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille

This is a pretty basic recipe – no suspicious vegetables or epicurean excesses here. For some people I know, this is comfort food, pure and simple. Not excessively sweet, and with a hefty helping of eggs to balance out the carb-rich pasta, this could easily work as a meatless main dish.

I always make this a more diabetic-friendly recipe (and lower the overall glycemic index) by using xylitol instead of white sugar. While xylitol can’t sub for sugar in baking without some other recipe alterations, it works perfectly in the dressing for Classic Macaroni Salad.

Oh, and while dijon mustard a wondrous thing and certainly does have its place, that place is not here. Plain yellow mustard is what you want to make this salad work.

Classic Macaroni Salad

  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar (or xylitol)
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup minced celery
  • 1/4 cup minced or shredded carrot
  • 1/8 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • paprika or parsley for garnish, if  you swing that way

Using one of the methods Heather showed us a while ago, hard cook the eggs. Peel as soon as they’re cool enough to handle, using whatever method works for you.

Here’s the method I learned from my mom, and it works for me: using a metal spoon (one from your set of flatware) gently tap the egg all over until the entire shell is crackled.
tap shell with metal spoon to crackle the shell

Pull off a few bits of the shell and the underlying membrane, and then gently slip the spoon between the shell/membrane and the cooked egg white, and pull away the shell in large pieces.

Carefully slip spoon under shell and pull it away
I do this as soon as I can handle the eggs, while they’re still somewhat hot – this method doesn’t work too well once the eggs are cooled. This is the only way I can manage to get somewhat decent looking hard-cooked eggs. After peeling, I alway rinse the eggs to remove any stray bits of shell. This helps to avoid having the wrong sort of crunch in the salad.

Crunchy veggies = yum.
Crunchy eggshell = not so much.

Ready to play dress upBacking up a bit…while the eggs are cooking: in a very large mixing bowl combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, mustard and black pepper, as well as the minced celery, carrot and onion. Mix until well-combined, and set aside.

Oh, the macaroni – you know, you could have been cooking that – in a separate pot, of course – at the same time you’re doing the eggs, which has, most likely, occurred to you by now, and you’ve already done. If not, get a move on, and cook those elbows according to the package directions, just until tender but still slightly firm. Mine took 9 minutes to get to that point. Drain it well, but not obsessively – an extra little bit of water in the mix won’t ruin anything – and dump the warm macaroni in with the dressing. Chop up the hard-cooked eggs however you like – I like big chunks of egg white, so I quarter the eggs lengthwise, then make 3 or 4 horizontal cuts. Add those to the bowl. Using a large spoon, gently fold the still-warm pasta and eggs into the sauce.
Gently, gently

Yes, it’s going to look a bit….too wet. Don’t panic. It’ll be fine. The pasta will easily absorb that extra liquid – that tasty extra liquid – and everything will be awesome and splendiferous and people will wonder at the amazingness of you and your Macaroni Salad of Win, but first you have to chill a bit. (The salad – and you, too. You deserve it.)

Cover the bowl tightly (plastic wrap or foil) or transfer to a lidded container, and chill for at least 2 hours, preferably longer. Before serving, stir it again gently, then add your garnish, if you’re the garnishy type. Being presentationally challenged myself, I just add a touch more cracked black pepper to the top and tuck a few lettuce leaves around the edges. If I have lettuce.


Picnic Perfect

I hope you have an enjoyable weekend, however you choose to spend it.


Bobbie Laughman is an elder caregiver and writer who is quite happy to once again be living near Gettysburg with her husband and son. She also posts at Gruntled. Sheveled. Whelmed. You can contact her there, or by email at Bobbie@Home-Ec101.com

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