Most of us probably remember the gloppy, gluey, overly-tangy versions of macaroni salad that grocery stores used to sell by the pound (They probably still do, eh?). The pasta was usually overcooked, the veggies soggy - and the dressing? Far too plentiful.
Danielle's version, though, keeps the best parts of the original (bendy pasta, glorious mayonnaise, carrots & celery, and a bit of sugar) and leaves the gloppiness behind. The veggies are crisp and plentiful, the dressing coats the noodles but doesn't pool on the plate, and the turbinado sugar adds sweetness and tang without overwhelming the pasta. Making this salad feels like an inherently summery act, though it would be delicious in any season. I ate it with cold roast chicken, and, one hungry morning, on its own for breakfast.
The original recipe (click here) makes enough to feed an army; my version is half the size, and provided enough for four generous portions. I also added a dash of my beloved spiciness, with a few glugs of Sriracha, and improvised a half-mayo, half-yogurt dressing upon realizing I only had half a cup of the former. Danielle's recipe listed elbow macaroni, but her picture showed the decidedly more grown-up cavatappi, and I decided to follow her lead on that, too.
Whichever version you make, and however much of it you make, one thing is absolutely essential: you MUST let the salad spend a few hours in the fridge before eating it. Trust me - before it ages a bit, it tastes like a mishmash of veggies, dressing and pasta. Once it's had time to hang out and get to know itself a bit, it is pure awesomeness.
Foodmomiac's Macaroni Salad
Adapted from Foodmomiac's original version
1/2 lb. cavatappi
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup turbinado sugar
1 1/4 tbs. dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. Sriracha (you can also go crazy and add a full teaspoon, if you choose)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 sweet white onion, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
1 carrot, minced
1 dill pickle, finely chopped
Cook cavatappi in boiling, salted water until just al dente. Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.
Mix together the mayo, yogurt, vinegar, sugar, mustard, Sriracha, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
Add the onion, celery and carrot to the sauce in the bowl, along with the cavatappi and pickles. Mix to combine, cover, and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Serves 4 (or one person, four times)