The Pretend Chef

Pasta Salad, Macaroni salad

pasta salad, macaroni salad in a bowl with tomatoes and boiled egg

Pasta, Salads | December 2, 2016 | By

There are hundreds of ways to make a Pasta Salad, each delicious and special in its own right. This Pasta salad, macaroni salad is simple, quick and fresh, a perfect accompaniment for meat or fish. Pasta Salad should be served cold or at room temperature. I can’t stand freezing cold Pasta salad thickly coated in greasy bland mayonnaise…blech!!! usually a staple of many grocery or supermarket delicatessens (delis).

Pasta salad is ideal for picnics, Christmas buffet, parties, as an entree, main meal, a quick brunch… it is that versatile. Instead of the usual-usual like the wholesome delicious Nigerian Salad or coleslaw, impress with this pasta salad. 

Salads are really a mishmash of complimentary ingredients, but as usual, this is a basic recipe which you can build upon to make it your own.

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These are some basic tips for an extraordinary Pasta Salad.

  1. Use dried pasta instead of fresh, it will hold up better than fresh when tossed.
  2. Use short and thick pasta that have nooks and crannies where the dressing will lodge. Like penne, elbow macaroni, corkscrew, shell etc.
  3. Since the salad will be served cold, go heavy when salting the water since cold food mute flavours.
  4. Pasta should be cooked past al dente, they should rather be fully cooked till they are all swollen but not mushy. This is because as pasta cools, it gets harder and chewier and pasta salad is served cold. Just give it 2 to 3 minutes extra cooking.
  5. Dress the pasta salad while still warm so it will absorb the dressing more.
  6. Retain a small portion of the dressing to add to the salad just before serving. Since the warm pasta must have absorbed most of the dressing, the flavoursome salad will taste and look dry, so this last bit of dressing will give it a creamy feel.
  7. Do not over-laden your salad with vegetables, add-ons and dressings.

Some of the above actually go contrary to some points in 14 tips for cooking pasta.

There are many ingredients that go well with pasta salad: vegetables e.g, peas, corn kernels, carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, cucumber, also others are, olives, cheese, onions, spring onions, celery, shallots, mushrooms, beans, chickpea, nuts, herbs, spices, different types of meat, seafood etc.

To make Pasta salad

1 cup pasta
salt
2 tablespoons kidney beans
1 spring onions* (scallions)
1 small tomato
1 boiled egg
2 tablespoons sweet corn
1/4 cup chopped cucumber

*I made mine with my quick pickled onions.

Place a pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil, add salt.

Pour pasta into the boiling water and cook until well cooked but not mushy.

Drain well into a sieve and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking, set aside to cool down.

pasta in sieve

Meanwhile, chop the spring onions, cut tomatoes into large chunks, remove the seeds if the tomato has a lot of juice.

Cut the egg into 8 pieces.

For the dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup milk*
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

In a bowl mix together mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, white pepper, black pepper, garlic powder, salt and sugar.

Taste and correct seasoning.

It should have a pourable consistency because when cold it will thicken a bit.

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To put everything together

In a large bowl, mix together, pasta, kidney beans, spring onions, tomato, boiled egg, sweet corn and cucumber.

Add 2/3 of the dressing and toss with the pasta, cover and put in the fridge.

When you are ready to serve, mix in the remaining dressing.

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Serve with barbeque, fried or grilled meat or fish, simple soup and a tall glass of Cucumber drink (cucumber agua fresca).

Notes

For vegetarians/vegans, you can use nut milk like almond milk, soy milk etc. Also, omit the egg.

If you enjoyed my Pasta salad, you will also enjoy my Nigerian vegetable salad, Mixed beans salad, Beetroot coleslaw and Sweet corn salad.

Do you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below.

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