Spring has sprung here in Central New York! Halleluiah! Classes are O-V-E-R! Yippee quay-aye! Although I do have a few more classes to complete my degree, and I am toying with the idea of a Masters as well. But for now, I am free to cook!First on the menu is my famous macaroni salad. Nothing fancy-schmancy, nothing crazy just good ole macaroni salad. Period.
To start with macaroni salad, regular macaroni salad is made with elbow macaroni. You can use any other short pasta you like, but in my mind real, regular, comfort food macaroni salad is plain and simple elbow macaroni. I do, however occasionally use mini-penne, or ziti, or penne and while the taste is the same, the mouth feel is quite different. To me, that makes it not regular old fashioned macaroni salad. Have I whined enough?
Due to the nature of pasta, that it will continue to absorb liquids it is mixed with, I make extra dressing to add to the mix right before I serve it, but no so much that the pasta is swimming in it like you sometimes get if you take a chance and buy it from a deli. While some delicatessens certainly make good macaroni salad--there's a place in Stony Brook that I love their macaroni salad, most are not that good--too runny or too vinegar-y, or mushy pasta. Ugh! No thank you!
For one pound of pasta you need a dressing that consists of two cups of mayonnaise- extra heavy if you can find it, but that is becoming more and more difficult to find in my little corner of the world; 1 cup of sugar and 2/3 to 3/4 cups of either cider or white wine vinegar, okay you can use white distilled vinegar if that is your staple. Added to the pasta is also 1/2 of a green pepper diced small; 1/2 of a red pepper diced small; and if you want you can also add 1 seeded and chopped tomato. The tomato is totally optional, the peppers, however are not. The difference in the taste of the pasta without the peppers is so remarkable and downright bland, that if you want to truly experience good--check that--great macaroni salad you simply MUST include the peppers. Even if you only have one color--use it. That's one more of those "trust me" deals.
Cook the macaroni just until al dente--no matter what you make pasta should be slightly resistant to the tooth; drain it well, and while still hot mix in 1/2 of the dressing mixture and the peppers. Toss to coat. The heat of the pasta releases the flavor of the peppers and big things will start to happen. Wait 10 minutes and add 1/2 of the remaining dressing, mix well. Hold the balance of the dressing until serving time--if the salad is too dry for your taste, add more, if not, you can refrigerate the dressing for a day or two, use it to continue to freshen up the salad before serving. But I do not keep it beyond two days, not because it goes bad--the vinegar does preserve it a bit, is just looks nasty. I usually do not have anything left to dump--the macaroni salad is usually long gone before the two days are up. I have a mac-salad hound around here.
STOP the presses! I have recently tried another method! I admit I am usually totally against rinsing pasta, however, I started rinsing the pasta for mac salad, and I must report satisfactory results. I should know there is no "never".