Growing up, my dad LOVED buying macaroni salad from Old World Deli, our local Italian deli counter. I remember recoiling at the thought of eating cold noodles drenched in mayo. YUCK! Seems things have changed. As I’ve gotten older, my aversion to mayo has not only disappeared, but has in fact spun on it head. I actually like mayo now. (Just typing those words sends shivers down the spine of 12 year old me). Turns out, it might not have been the mayo-y noodle salad the turned my taste buds as much as the mayo-y noodle salad recipe, because years and years later… I now LOVE my dad’s awesome macaroni salad. If he had been serving up heaping sides of this “salad,” something tells… I would have gotten on the mayo bandwagon at a much younger age.
Lots of things make this macaroni salad the best. First off, its neither oil based nor mayo based… its a hybrid! The olive oil and mayonnaise combination gives the macaroni just enough creaminess without being goopy. The chopped vegetables bring brightness and color to this otherwise beige dish while also adding crunch and sweetness. I like to use 3 colors of bell peppers for a more vivid salad, but 2 would also do the trick. So what makes it magic you ask? The hot chili peppers of course! I might be a glutton for punishment when it comes to heat, but I promise that the peppers actually add balance to this dish by kicking it up with a little unexpected heat.
With the Superbowl fast approaching, I thought I would share the secrets to this sure fire crowd pleaser. People might even brush past the seven layer dip for a second helping of this delightful dish… it’s possible, stranger things have happened.
Makes 12-20 servings
1- 8 ounce box elbow macaroni (the smallest macaroni you can find)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh cracked pepper
4 ounces shredded carrots, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
6-8 hot chili peppers (I like Mezzetta), seeded and finely chopped
1/4-1/2 cup mayonnaise (add more or less depending on desired coating)
In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil, add pasta and cook until al dente. Strain pasta and immediately coat with oil olive, salt and pepper. The pasta should be evenly coated with pepper. Set aside to cool.
Chop carrots, onion, bell peppers and chili peppers. All the vegetables should be the same size for consistent bites.
Once pasta has cooled, mix in chopped vegetables. Add mayo. You can add more olive oil and mayo until you obtain desired consistency. The pasta should not be overly mayo-y.
Delight it the deliciousness of this awesome macaroni salad!