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Creamy macaroni salad is delicious proof that macaroni is good, even without cheese. In other words, you can mix it with something different to get a dish everyone loves.
This salad is always popular at potluck dinners. It’s certainly one of the first salads to disappear off the salad table. I think people like it because it complements so many other foods and doesn’t overpower them.
Regular or Gluten-Free Pasta
My body doesn’t tolerate gluten, so I have to make this dish with gluten-free pasta. Eight years ago, it was difficult to find one that tasted good, but manufacturers have improved the process. In fact, when I make anything with pasta, my husband can’t tell the difference. I used to have to make separate dishes, which was such a pain.
I’m delighted that this dish can be made however you need or want—either regular or gluten-free. They key is to avoid overcooking the pasta, or it winds up mushy. Basically, just keep an eye on it and take it off the burner as soon as it’s done.
Benefits of Pasta
There are so many wonderful things to love about pasta. First of all, it’s delicious and goes with so many different dishes. You can serve it with Italian food, Greek cuisine, or anything else you want.
Secondly, pasta is filling, so you can make a meal budget stretch when you have a lot of hungry mouths to feed. For this reason, it’s perfect for a large dinner, potluck, or picnic.
Another thing I like about pasta is that it takes on the flavor of whatever sauce it’s in. In other words, it doesn’t clash with anything.
Although pasta is a starch, it has a low glycemic index. Therefore, it’s good for dieters, unless you’re on a super low-carb program. Even then, you may be able to eat small quantities of pasta.
Pasta is very low in sodium. For this reason, it’s good for people suffering from heart disease or hypertension.
Finally, it provides energy. Weight lifters, runners, and other athletes often load up on pasta because it keeps them from crashing while they work out.
Ingredients in Creamy Macaroni Salad
In order to make this salad, you’ll need elbow pasta (regular or gluten-free), chopped celery, sweet pickle relish, mayonnaise, and mustard. You can use other forms of pasta if that’s what you have on hand. My mother-in-law used to add a tablespoon of honey for extra sweetness, but I prefer it without.
There are other things you can put in this salad for more flavor or color. For example, you can add cayenne, Worcestershire, mushrooms, olives, or eggs. You can even add meat if you want more protein. If you’d like to sample the different additions, do it in small batches. Scoop a little bit into smaller bowls and add whatever you think might be good. That way, you won’t waste the whole batch.
How to Make This Delicious Side Dish
This is extremely easy to make. Start out by cooking the pasta according to the directions on the package. As I mentioned earlier, I like it done but firm, or al dente. After it’s cooked, rinse in cold water, drain it, and put it in a mixing bowl.
Add the chopped celery and sweet pickle relish. Mix it up.
Scoop some mayonnaise and mustard into it. You can use the standard yellow mustard, Dijon, or other special flavored mustard. If you want to add anything else, this is the time to do it. Mix it well.
Now it’s ready to serve. I like to add edible garnish like lettuce or beets to make it more visually appealing and appetizing.
What to Serve with Creamy Macaroni Salad
There are so many different things you can serve this pasta with. I like it with any type of barbecue. It’s also delicious with these tangy sesame ginger ribs. When I go on a picnic, I enjoy having it with a rotisserie chicken from Costco or Publix. Or if you prefer, have it as a side with traditional southern fried chicken.
You can also have a salad buffet—some of the salads for sandwiches and others to eat on the side of other dishes. One good salad that can be eaten either way is this chicken salad. Whether you serve it on a bed of lettuce and eat it with a fork or between two slices of bread, it’s absolutely delicious.
I also like to get ideas from Meal Plan Monday at Southern Plate, Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, and the Weekend Potluck at South Your Mouth. If you collect recipes, you also need to check out Back to My Southern Roots.
- 2 cups of cooked elbow macaroni (regular or gluten-free)
- 1/2 cup of chopped celery
- 4 tablespoons of sweet pickle relish
- 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon of mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste (or seasoned salt)
- Cook the macaroni according to the instructions on the package. Drain, rinse with cold water, and pour into a medium-size mixing bowl.
- Add the chopped celery and sweet pickle relish. Mix well.
- Add the mayonnaise and mustard. Stir.
- Add salt and pepper.
Amount Per Serving Calories 167 Total Fat 6g Saturated Fat 1g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 5g Cholesterol 3mg Sodium 272mg Carbohydrates 25g Fiber 2g Sugar 5g Protein 4g