A few weeks ago my mom spooned a pile of this into a cool whip container and gave it me to take home. I glanced at it and thought, meh.
It sat in the fridge untouched a few days because I… well… I just thought it would be… meh. It just looked like every other macaroni and mayonnaise salad, which, in my experience, has never been anything to get excited about.
I brought it to work with me to eat for lunch but really couldn't muster any enthusiasm to eat it. When my stomach started munching on my backbone I finally grabbed it and decided to eat some.
Oh. My. Blog. It was so good! I just assumed it was pasta, mayo and a few minced veggies so I was blown away at the flavor! Like, truly shocked!!!
I called mom to ask what in the world was in it and she faxed me the recipe she’s had tucked away in her cookbook from Cook’s Country magazine. I think they’re a little persnickety about sharing their recipes so I don’t want to give anything of theirs away.
Below is my version of their recipe. I made a few changes but I do want to point out that this was totally inspired by their very inspiring recipe for Cool and Creamy Pasta Salad.
Creamy Macaroni Salad
1 pound small ridged elbow macaroni noodles or cavatappi (corkscrew pasta)*
Liberally salted water
2-3 tablespoons dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/3 cups mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 red onion, finely diced
3/4 cup finely diced celery
Cook pasta in liberally salted water per manufacturer’s instructions for al dente preparation. Drain pasta then rinse in cold water. Drain again then immediately add pasta to a large mixing bowl. Don’t let it set and dry out, you want the pasta to still be on the moist side for the next step.
Add parsley, garlic, salt, pepper and Dijon mustard to pasta and stir until well combined. Let pasta “marinate” in the seasonings for 15-20 minutes uncovered at room temperature. Doing this allows the pasta to soak up the flavors of the parsley, seasonings and mustard before adding the mayonnaise.
Whip together mayonnaise and vinegar and set aside.
Add onion, celery and mayonnaise mixture to pasta and stir until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Cover and refrigerate 1-4 hours before serving.
Before serving, mix well then add more salt to taste or mayo if desired.
*Use any small, tubular, ridged pasta for this recipe. I think ridged pasta is best for pasta salads because the ridges help the other ingredients stick to the pasta.
You could TOTALLY make this an entrée salad by adding grilled shrimp, chopped chicken or even canned tuna!
See also Picnic Pasta Salad for my other favorite (no mayo) pasta salad.