Our temperatures have turned once again feeling like it’s time to break out the grill and picnic supplies for cooking and dining alfresco. A perfect time to bring out the gluten-free Picnic Macaroni Salad!
We are in the last few weeks of school with more activities on the books than one would choose. Concerts are scheduled, elementary school graduation booked, celebratory pool parties and picnics, summer swim team practices nightly all crowd my iPhone calendar. I’m finding my sanity in dreaming of recipes to kick off the warm weather this Memorial Day weekend and beyond.
Just today old school macaroni salad popped to mind. I used to love the mini elbow macaroni slathered in the sweet mayonnaise dressing with crunchy celery. It reminds me of summer holidays when I was a child. Picnic dinners awaiting fireworks displays in the City Park. Lake shore meals where everything was set out and people would help themselves in between swimming, playing Kick the Can or exploring barefoot in the mud.
I’m not sure exactly what happened but it seems those old school macaroni salads, sort of were left behind along with their cousins of Potato Salad, and Egg Salad, giving way to more sophisticated options such a Pasta Salad with exciting current day twists.
I find it impossible not to experiment when making traditional dishes. A little chipotle always seems to bring a good surprise. Or curry powder.
However I felt strongly I did not want to stray too far from the traditional macaroni salad, keeping it simple. I did add a few changes. Regular macaroni salad is a bit, well, boring to behold. Beige-on-beige; yawn. I added some colorful shredded carrots which gave it a visual lift as well as added more vegetables (a secret motive I have whenever I cook) with crunch. I also threw in some chives along with scallions for a nice oniony flavor without blowing out the taste buds as raw red onion can do.
Lastly though I love the traditional elbow macaroni, and use a favorite gluten-free brand often, I wanted to celebrate the arrival of summer with a whimsical shape.
I picked a gluten-free rice pasta by Tinkyada called ‘Little Dreams’. It is full of boats, planes, trains, cars, stars and other fun shapes. It reminds me of the lazy things about summer; laying on the grass watching clouds roll by, fishing in slow-moving stream, travel to exciting destinations and day dreaming. Elbow macaroni may of course be used as well!
Sometimes the classics are the best and this Picnic Macaroni Salad was inspired by traditional Macaroni Salad. A few subtle additions bring more color, crunch, flavor and a whimsy to the pasta shape (if desired). Traditional elbow macaroni may be used as well.
The salad may be made gluten-free or with gluten based on the pasta used.
- 2 cups dry Elbow pasta (or other preferred shape)
- ½ cup diced Celery
- 1/3 cup grated Carrots (I used multi colored carrots for more color)
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced Scallions
- 1 tablespoons fresh diced Chives
- 2 teaspoons diced Italian Parsley
- ½ cup Mayonnaise (regular, low fat, vegan, etc.)
- 1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 teaspoons granulated Sugar
- ¾ teaspoon ground Mustard (gluten-free)
- Salt and Pepper
- Prepare macaroni to the package instructions; rinse and allow to fully cool.
- Combine the dressing ingredients (mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar and ground mustard). Stir to fully combine.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the celery, carrots, scallions, chives and parsley. Stir to mix together. Add the cooled macaroni and the dressing. Stir together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with paprika and serve immediately or chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. Reminder: mayonnaise salads should not sit out in the heat for long periods.