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Farmer’s Table: Classic Macaroni Salad


By Susan Maslowski

The weather is getting warmer and soon it will be time for backyard cookouts, picnics, graduation parties and potluck events. That means you’ll probably be seeing a pasta salad or two.

I have never been a big fan of pasta salads. I don’t remember my mother making traditional macaroni salad while growing up.

According to one source, the earliest recipe for macaroni salad was published in 1962. Unfortunately, I do not know if any one person deserves credit for mixing pasta and mayonnaise and calling the creation a salad.

Macaroni and pasta salads have gained popularity since the ‘60s. Today, modern cooks can buy pasta salad kits or ready-made pasta salad at most grocery stores.

Every box lunch I’ve had contains a little cup of pasta salad, and I understand. It is inexpensive to make and there is less chance that it will spoil. Caterers seem to prefer those tri-colored spirals or little bow-tie pastas that are always difficult to eat when coated with slippery vinaigrette.

I like pasta with a variety of sauces, but mushy white spaghetti with crunchy green peppers in vinaigrette dressing has never appealed to me, so I was surprised when I recently had a craving for a good, old-fashioned macaroni salad.

This recipe is basic and simple. This salad is best when eaten soon after it has been assembled.

Cold macaroni salad will congeal. It is advised not to rinse hot pasta, except when making macaroni salad. Rinsing will remove excess starch and stop cooking to make sure the pasta doesn’t turn to mush. Firmer pasta will not absorb as much dressing.

Since macaroni salad contains mayonnaise, it should not be kept at room temperature for an extended period to avoid any food-borne illness.

I have to admit, this recipe tasted pretty darn good and it satisfied my craving.

Classic Macaroni Salad

2 cups dry elbow macaroni, cooked, rinsed and drained

1/3 cup diced celery

¼ cup sweet onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon parsley, minced

1 tablespoon pimento, drained

½ cup mayonnaise

½ teaspoon dry mustard

1-teaspoon sugar

1½ tablespoons cider vinegar

3 tablespoons sour cream

½ teaspoon sea salt

Black pepper

In a large bowl, combine macaroni, celery, onion, parsley and pimento.

In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, vinegar, sour cream and salt.

Pour dressing over salad ingredients. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately. (This salad can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days, but an extra dollop of mayonnaise may be needed if the salad appears to be dry.)

For questions about recipes or other information, contact Susan Maslowski at or go to our websites at and Susan also has a Farmer’s Table Facebook page.


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