Kate Johnson: Macaroni salad recipe is easy to adapt to tastes (recipe)

Kate Johnson’s macaroni salad.

Kate Johnson’s macaroni salad.

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I was recently asked to bring a macaroni salad to a gathering and it tasted so darn good. With summer coming up and more and more social gatherings taking place, I thought it would be a good recipe to share with you for this article.
Back in the day Mark and I used to love the macaroni salad at Deli Francescos. It was simple, old fashioned and delicious. This recipe, from Chef John, represents! However, I did make my own mayonnaise from our fresh eggs. I do think that makes a beautiful difference on the overall flavor. I will include the recipe for the mayonnaise as well, however, a good quality, store-bought brand will do the trick. If you like other things (cheese, peas, deli meats, etc.) feel free to make it your own.
A few things that I do think made a big difference in the overall outcome: marinating the vegetables in the dressing for a period of time before adding the macaroni; not rinsing the pasta so the dressing coats better; dressing it prior to eating with a bit more mayonnaise and a few tablespoons of water and, finally; giving it a day (or two) to sit before eating – it literally tasted better and better over time.

Chef John’s Macaroni Salad
1 cup mayonnaise
1⁄4 cup white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sea salt or more to taste
1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon cane sugar or more to taste
1 cup finely diced celery
3⁄4 cup diced red bell pepper
1⁄2 cup grated carrot
1⁄2 cup chopped green onions white and light parts or chopped purple onion
1⁄4 cup diced jalapeño pepper
1⁄4 cup diced poblano pepper
1 (16 ounce) package uncooked elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon water

Whisk 1 cup mayonnaise, vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper together in a bowl until well blended; whisk in sugar. Stir in celery, red bell pepper, carrot, onions, and jalapeño and poblano peppers. Refrigerate until macaroni is ready to dress.
Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Cook elbow macaroni in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain but do not rinse. Allow macaroni to drain in a colander about 5 minutes, shaking out moisture from time to time. Pour macaroni into large bowl; toss to separate and cool to room temperature. Macaroni should be sticky.
Pour dressing over macaroni and stir until dressing is evenly distributed. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or, ideally, overnight to allow dressing to absorb into the macaroni.
Stir salad before serving. Mix 1 tablespoon mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon water into salad for fresher look.
This recipe comes from the New York Times, however, there are many versions available from different sources and they are all very similar. If you like certain other flavors (onion, garlic wasabi, etc.) it is easy to adjust. I used my immersion blender for making the mayonnaise and it worked really well. I do caution to keep an eye on it once it thickens. You may not need to add all the oil and if you keep going it can get thin or break. Also, some people love a more robust flavor of mayonnaise and if that is the case then a good quality olive or avocado oil are perfectly acceptable options. If you have some of this left over after dressing your salad, roast up a head of garlic and mash it in for a delicious spread for a sandwich or a dip for a steamed artichoke! Happy Summer!
Yield: 2 cups
This recipe is perfect for a small batch of mayonnaise and does not require a food processor. Whisk slowly as you drip the oil into the egg yolk, lemon juice and Dijon mustard mixture. Once it starts to emulsify, you can start adding the oil a bit faster. In all, it will be a few minutes of whisking for a beautiful light-yellow mayo that's worth every moment.
2 large egg yolks at room temperature
4 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoon cold water
1 1⁄2 cup neutral oil such as safflower or canola
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, lemon juice, mustard, salt and 1 teaspoon cold water until frothy. Whisking constantly, slowly dribble in the oil until mayonnaise is thick and oil is incorporated. When the mayonnaise emulsifies and starts to thicken, you can add the oil in a thin stream, instead of drop by drop.
Kate Johnson is a long-time resident of Carson City. She is an avid gardener, cook, musician and lover of dogs.


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