As I mentioned in my Potato Salad post from a few weeks ago, my family and I have always been macaroni salad people when it comes to summertime sides. We never had a lot of potato dishes in my house growing up. Aside from the occasional box of instant spuds of course… they just weren’t are go to starch. We were always more of a bread/rice/pasta family. It’s funny because now a days I have to make meals for my Husband and his absolute favorite side is mashed potatoes. Funny how things work out.
Anyways, my point is that my family liked macaroni salad. We had it at least once a summer and my parents always prepared it the same way- there had to be olives, there HAD to be hard-boiled eggs (my Mother’s a fanatic), and there was never enough cumin for my Father. It wasn’t until I started cooking on my own that I realized what a unique macaroni salad this was. I had always thought that they were all made like that. Now I know that they are usually made with a mayonnaise dressing, along with some vinegar, sugar, maybe some mustard, and possibly some relish…
That’s the thing about salad’s they are totally versatile! If you don’t like an ingredient, you don’t have to add it, you can always swap it out for something that you prefer or more of something else. Your options are pretty limitless. For example, my family didn’t always make our salads with just celery, carrot, olives, and eggs. Sometimes my dad would add canned peas. Other times celery wasn’t even a thought. It was mostly whatever we had on hand, but always olives and eggs. I think that was mostly my Mom’s doing though- those are her favorite. So if you like the idea behind a cumin flavored macaroni salad, but you’re not sure of the vegetables, go ahead and make it your own. Use some bell pepper. Or chopped onion. Whatever! It’s what works for you.
The dressing is really flexible too, specifically the mayonnaise. I always end up adding a little bit more than written in the recipe simply because the macaroni ends up absorbing some of it and I just can NOT stand a dry macaroni salad. And it’s not just the vegetables that are adaptable, the dressing ingredients are too. So if you want a sweeter salad, use more relish or some sugar. If you want some more acidity then a splash of vinegar won’t hurt anybody. What I have written is just what my family prefers. And personally, it’s what I like too : ) It’s a darn delicious salad, if I don’t say so myself!
- 1 lb. elbow macaroni
- 1 cup mayonnaise, plus more if needed
- 2 Tb sweet relish
- ½ tsp salt
- 1½ tsp cumin
- 2 tsp dry mustard or 2 Tb yellow mustard
- ½ cup chopped celery
- ½ cup chopped carrot
- ½ cup green olives, halved or quartered
- ½ cup black olives, halved or quartered
- 4 hard boiled eggs, chunked
- Boil pasta in salted water per package instructions.
- While pasta is cooking make the dressing by combining the mayonnaise, relish, salt, cumin, and mustard in a large bowl.When pasta is finished cooking, drain and add to dressing. Mix in celery, carrot, olives, and eggs. Add more mayonnaise to reach desired consistency if needed.