- Food: Macaroni Salad
- Writer: Nicolas Wilson
- Content-Type: Food Blog
The most delicious macaroni salad ever! It’s exactly as wonderful as the conventional recipe, but it’s so much lighter, thanks to the crisp vegetables and fresh herbs.
This macaroni salad dish is a lighter version of the one I ate as a kid. If you’ve ever had classic macaroni salad, you know it’s normally topped with an ultra-creamy dressing made with mayonnaise, sugar, and even sour cream.
Even though this type of sauce is too rich for me these days, I still enjoy macaroni salad.
For crisp veggies like bell pepper, celery, and onions add snap, diced dill pickles, vinegar, and mustard to give it a tangy, saline flavor.
So, earlier this spring, I set out to create my macaroni salad recipe, one that was lighter than the conventional version but just as delectable.
I’m ecstatic to share the results with you all! Herbs like parsley and dill add a blast of fresh flavor to this macaroni salad, as is typical of Love and Lemons.
It has a light creamy dressing rather than a heavy one, and it’s loaded with vegetables. It takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and stores well if made ahead of time.
This weekend, make it for Father’s Day or bring it for a picnic or a workday lunch. I hope you enjoy this recipe however you serve it!
How to Make It?
The dressing is the first step in this simple macaroni salad recipe. It’s made with mayo, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper, and it’s light, acidic, and easy to make.
My preferred method is to use my own vegan mayo, but it also works with conventional mayo or store-bought vegan mayo.
In the bottom of a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Isn’t it true that this is a one-bowl dish?
After that, throw in everything else! What you’ll need is the following:
- Of course, macaroni!
- Red bell pepper, red onion, and celery — They offer a great crunch to the dish while also amplifying the savory flavor.
- Peas — For a pop of color and a hint of sweetness.
- Capers are used instead of dill pickles in this recipe. They add a delightful briny flavor to the salad, but sliced dill pickles would suffice if you don’t have any on hand.
- Fresh parsley and dill — They add a fresh, flavorful finish to the salad. I like to use 1/4 cup of dill in this recipe, but if you don’t like dill, start with 2 teaspoons and add more to the taste.
Toss the noodles with the dressing, capers, and herbs, season to taste, and serve!
Tips for the Best Macaroni Salad Recipe
- Cook the pasta for a few minutes longer than usual. It should be slightly past al dente (but not mushy) for the pasta to stay soft as it cools. For macaroni salad, I find that the higher time range provided on the box directions is typically just about correct.
- Using cold water, rinse the pasta. If you add the pasta to the salad while it is still warm, it will begin to cook and wilt the vegetables. Drain the pasta and rinse it under cold water to preserve it bright and crisp. Before mixing it with the other salad ingredients, let it cool fully.
- Taste and adjust as needed. This salad recipe, like other salad recipes, is adaptable, so taste it and alter it to your liking before serving! If you want it to be brighter, squeeze in additional lemon juice or add more vegetables or herbs. Salt to taste, of course.
Suggestions for Serving Macaroni Salad
This simple macaroni salad is the ideal summer side dish! At a backyard BBQ, pair it with vegetarian burgers, portobello mushroom burgers, cauliflower po’ boys, or BBQ jackfruit sandwiches.
Caprese sandwiches, chickpea salad sandwiches, or egg salad sandwiches could all be packed for a picnic. If you’re vegan, you may make a wonderful egg salad by substituting crumbled tofu for hard-boiled eggs.
Try one of the options below if you’re looking for more side dishes to fill out your meal. Any of the following would be delicious with this macaroni salad:
- Fresh vegetables with a tasty dip like hummus, baba ganoush, or white bean dip
- Grilled vegetables with a tangy tzatziki sauce
- With your favorite greens and a lemon vinaigrette, make a simple salad.
- A leafless salad, such as my Greek salad or cucumber salad, is simple to prepare.
- Salads with fruit or a sweet and salty component, such as my watermelon salad, strawberry salad, or shaved fennel salad
|15-minute prep time
Time to cook: 10 minutes
Time allotted: 25 minutes
This simple macaroni salad is the ideal summer side dish! It’s light and refreshing when tossed in a tangy, mildly creamy dressing. Great for cookouts, picnics, or a lunch that can be prepared ahead of time!
- Heaping ½ cup mayo or vegan mayo
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces dry elbow macaroni
- ½ cup diced red onion
- ½ red bell pepper, diced
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- ¾ cup frozen peas, thawed
- 2 tablespoons capers or diced dill pickles
- ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and freshly ground black pepper in a large mixing basin.
- In a pot of salted boiling water, cook the macaroni until just past al dente. Drain and rinse well with cold water.
- Combine the macaroni, red onion, red pepper, celery, peas, capers, dill, and parsley in a mixing dish. Stir to incorporate and season with salt and pepper to taste.