I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. - Mark Twain

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Red white and blue boring

Very little in the way of innovation has accompanied much of my recent kitchen pursuits in the middle of July in the middle Atlantic in the middle of moving. Frankly, I wants the comforts of my uneducated youth. Theoretically, nothing better fits the bill than good ol' red white and blue macaroni salad. From the deli. The really cheap deli at the local Gianormous grocery store.

Problem is, I am not that fond of most grocery store mac salads any more. They are too full of mayo and too sweet. I am not anti mayo or sugar by any means, but don't understand why everything from the deli counter has to be swimming in both. Guess it's the American way? We are trying to kill ourselves with sweet mayonnaise soup?

Well tighten up America, it's time for a new way! If I were Queen, here's how everyone would make their mac salads: elevate the flavor, don't forget the veggies, and for dog almighty's sake don't turn it into some kind of weird fatty liquid vat of slime.

Bonus- check out the recycled deli container used for the fancy food stylin'. Way to build up the eco-points, comrades...

Deli Macaroni Salad

Makes 12-16 small side servings, or 8 larger servings

1 pound elbow macaroni

½ cup diced bell pepper, your color choice (mix 'em!)
½ cup diced red onion
½ cup diced celery
½ cup shredded carrot
¼ cup minced fresh chives, or 2 Tbs. dried chives

1 cup vegan mayo
½ cup non-dairy milk of choice, more as necessary
2 Tbs. sweet pickle relish
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs. prepared Dijon mustard
1 Tbs. fresh minced dill, or 1 tsp. dried dill
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. salt, to taste
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ tsp. whole caraway seed, or ¼ tsp. ground caraway seed, optional

Bring a large, 6 quart pot of water (with 1-2 Tbs. salt added, if desired) to a boil, and cook pasta until just al dente- follow manufacturer's directions but check early to achieve a firm al dente, not overcooked, result.

While water is heating and pasta is boiling, prep the vegetables and set aside in a bowl.

Make the dressing by blending mayo through caraway seed, if using, in a small bowl.

When pasta is cooked, drain in a colander and rinse with cold water to halt further cooking. Place in a large serving bowl, add chopped vegetables and dressing, and mix gently but thoroughly to combine. Adjust condiments/seasonings to taste.

Keep covered and refrigerated until ready to serve. Blend in a little more milk if the salad seems too dry after refrigerating; the pasta will continue to absorb the dressing for a while as it sits.

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