A staple at every backyard BBQ, picnic or family reunion is the macaroni salad. But, let's be frank, it isn't always that exciting. Limp noodles? Dripping in mayo? Bland? Yeah, I have scooped myself a fair number of passable macaroni salads. Not, passing good, but more like, I'll pass.
But, there is a great little place called Ron's Island Grill in Eugene Oregon that serves up a mean Huli Huli Chicken with a side of pineapple and a scoop of macaroni salad. It is smooth, tangy and good. Now, you can choose any side at Ron's, but why wouldn't you choose the amazing macaroni salad?
My version is inspired by Cook's Country who added the bite of vinegar back into the noodles and even added in a touch of color and crunch with some veggies. I actually added just a bit more apple cider vinegar and more veggies. I think my favorite Hawaiian restaurant has finally met it's match.
Start by whipping up the wet mixture. This will be part of it. This recipe is all about timing. It isn't a barbaric dump and stir sort of affair, no, it has stages. No need to be intimidated though, it's just a salad.
Boil a pound of elbow macaroni noodles. For this recipe they are boiled long past the recommended time. The noodles should be very soft and ready to drink in the vinegar. Toss them in good apple cider vinegar. I prefer Bragg organic raw apple cider vinegar, but use what you have handy.
Stir in all the vinegar, but be careful not to take a deep breath over the pot. That stuff will knock you over!
While living in Japan I remember touring brewery for vinegar. Climbing up a big vat to look inside the operation, no one warned me not to inhale. The stuff just about knocked me off the ladder. Now I have a deep respect for rice wine vinegar.
When the noodles cool slightly, mix in the sauce. Stir it up and let the noodles soak it in. Don't worry. There will be more sauce to add later.
After it is completely cools you can toss in the green onions, carrots and celery along with more sauce. Now the macaroni salad is ready to chill before serving. This stuff tastes even better the following day.
Just a little warning... this mac salad is not short on flavor and creaminess, but it is also full fat. If you want to cut it back and add skim milk, sadly, it won't turn out the same way.
Hawaiian Style Macaroni Salad
You Will Need:
- 2 c. whole milk
- 2 c. mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- salt and pepper
- 1 lb. elbow macaroni
- 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 carrots, peeled and grated
- 2 ribs of celery, thinly sliced
- 1/4 tsp. paprika
Whisk together 1 1/2 cups milk, 1 cup mayo, brown sugar and 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Chill until needed.
Boil the pasta for about 15 minutes, until the elbow macaroni is very soft. Gently drain and drizzle with the apple cider vinegar while still hot. Toss gently so all the noodles are coated. Let the pasta cool for 10 minutes and then coat with the dressing. Allow to then sit and cool completely.
Once cooled, add the sliced green onions, carrot and celery. In a small bowl whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup milk and 1 cup mayo. Dress the noodles and stir to coat completely. Add additional salt and pepper and the paprika to taste. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving. It also serves well the following day.
Do you have a favorite Macaroni Salad?