I think I can count on one hand, how many times I've eaten macaroni salad. I've never been too impressed with it, is all I can say.
Until I made this Hawaiian Macaroni Salad.
America's Test Kitchen video (which requires a paid subscription) on how to make Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken. The suggested side dish, for the chicken was to serve it with sticky rice and Hawaiian macaroni salad. So, why not? I was game to make this, because I know that my men love anything with pasta-- and I was feelin' a relapse of Island Fever.
I love it when I have all of the ingredients to make a recipe, and this salad is pretty simple. Large elbow macaroni, sliced green onion, chopped celery and freshly grated carrots.
That sounds pretty healthy, right?
Well, except...maybe, for the mayo. Like one cup of mayonnaise for the whole salad. We'll see about that!
To the part of the mayonnaise, we add a bit of brown sugar, salt and pepper, and then we add part of the volume of whole milk (this will make sense later).
So, now we give all this a nice little whisking, and then I think to myself, "this looks very thin!" But, I have to trust America's Test Kitchen and so I continued with my mission.
What I really like about the Cook's Illustrated/Cook's Country/America's Test Kitchen family is that they really do test their recipes-- a lot. I appreciate their twists on recipes, and reading why they chose a particular method or ingredient. With this macaroni salad, the macaroni is intentionally overcooked. The reason is so that dressing will better absorbed into the pasta.
Once the pasta is drained, vinegar is added and tossed to absorb.
After waiting about ten minutes, the salad dressing is added...
...and tossed until well coated, and then allowed to completely cool. I was relieved to find that the watery dressing had, indeed, been absorbed into the pasta. Whew!
So, now we add all the veggies, and the remaining mayonnaise and milk.
So, there we have it: Hawaiian Macaroni Salad, made simple and quite tasty looking, indeed. This needs to be refrigerated for at least one hour, before serving.
TASTING NOTES: I had reduced the cider vinegar by half, and I'm glad that I did. The dressing was super creamy, with just the right acidic balance to it. The seasonings were very simple, and I liked the crunch of the carrots, scallions and celery. I did cut the recipe in half, and I'm glad that I did. This, very easily, made eight servings-- and I was cooking for just the three of us.
This is a traditional Hawaiian lunch plate-- Huli Huli Chicken, Hawaiian macaroni salad and rice. The salad was completely gone, by the next day, after my son polished it off. Yes, I would make this again and this would make a great potluck salad to bring (as long as it's kept well chilled and out of the sun, because of the mayonnaise).
NOTE: Some of you might be thinking you could cut calories by using low-fat milk, or reduced-fat mayonnaise. ATK says that doing this will alter the dressing into being too thin and watery. Go ahead and try it, but do it at your own risk! I cut calories by eating a small and reasonable portion, and then letting my tall, thin and young son eat the rest of it!
As always, a printable recipe card is at the end of this post.