Who doesn’t like simple but yummy cold salads like macaroni salad? I suppose a simple food like macaroni salad seems a bit common to appear in Food Nirvana, but if it is made well it is delicious, so it belongs with other yummy foods in Food Nirvana. Some of the different versions of macaroni salad I have tasted in the past were so bland they were boring. Fear not ... the recipe variations shown below will all make excellent macaroni salad.
Peggy and I looked at multiple Internet recipes for macaroni salad, we used our own knowledge from making it in the past, and we combined all of that information, eliminating some recommended Internet recipe ingredients, to create the recipe variations shown below. I made the green Manzanilla olive version of this salad to please Peggy (she loves salty foods) and it is excellent. You may use halved green Manzanilla olives to create the more salty salad or diced sweet gherkins to create a sweeter salad. But don't use both.
You will see multiple ingredient variations below that all will produce unique and superior macaroni salads. We suggest trying the different variations to find what you and your family and friends like the best.
1 1/2 cups of Hellman's® mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of white distilled vinegar or unseasoned rice vinegar
1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of sweet gherkin pickle juice (Variation: Use juice from bread and butter pickles)
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt if using olives or 2 teaspoons of sea salt if using sweet gherkins or bread and butter pickles
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper (Variation: Use 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper)
1 lb. of dry macaroni, cooked, drained, rinsed in cold water, drained again and then chilled
1 1/2 cups of diced celery
1/2 cup of diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup of diced sweet red pepper
1/2 cup of diced sweet onion (Variation: Use chopped scallions, including green part)
1 1/2 cups of halved green Manzanilla olives, or, one cup of diced sweet gherkin pickles (but not both)
Olive and Pickle Variation: Use 3/4 cup of sliced black olives and 3/4 cup of chopped bread and butter pickles
Prepare the macaroni per the package instructions. Drain it well in a colander, then rinse and drain the cooked macaroni three times in cold water using the cooking pot and the colander. Then put the macaroni into a two quart bowl and chill it for one hour or more in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap.
Mix the mayonnaise, vinegar, sweet pickle juice, sugar, ground pepper(s) and salt in a three quart bowl.
Prepare the celery, green bell pepper, red sweet pepper, onion/scallions and the olives (or sweet gherkins and/or bread and butter pickles).
Add the prepared vegetables to the mayonnaise mixture and mix well.
Add the chilled macaroni to the mayonnaise and vegetables mixture gradually and mix gently but thoroughly.
Chill the macaroni salad, covered, in the refrigerator until it is used. This type of salad tastes best if the flavors are allowed to combine overnight.
Taste the chilled salad and make any ingredient additions you think will enhance it and mix it/them well into the salad.
When you are ready to serve the salad be sure to mix the bowl contents thoroughly to coat the macaroni uniformly with any dressing that accumulated in the bottom of the bowl. Note that any apparent extra dressing will be absorbed by the refrigerated, cooked macaroni within a day or two, so do not be concerned if there appears to be extra dressing at the time the salad is made. Do, however, mix the salad each time it is served to capture and evenly distribute any apparent extra dressing.