Originally posted June 2012.
Dear Macaroni Salad,
If you don’t mind, I’m going to be frank with you — I never really liked you. Now look, I’m not saying this to hurt your feelings, but I’m just trying to establish an honest relationship with you.
It wasn’t your fault, really. I’ve just never really thought that macaroni should be served cold. Macaroni, in my eyes, has always been at its best served hot, slathered in tomato sauce and topped with two or three big ol’ meatballs. Or baked in a plethora of cheeses. Heck, I even enjoy macaroni on its own, with just a bit of melted butter and parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.
But cold? Macaroni had no business being served cold. And especially not with celery. The starch salad that always won my heart was that of the potato. I know you’ve had your fans, Macaroni Salad, but I was not one of them.
Not until this came along…
This delicious, spicy, smoky, COLD macaroni dish that I would happily make on a weekly basis. This macaroni salad that I made last night and just polished off the leftovers of for lunch. This macaroni salad that you must try to make on your own. Seriously, I demand it.
I wish I could take credit for concocting this carbtastic, macaroni masterpiece. But, like so many other culinary successes, this one was borrowed from someone infinitely more established and tweaked because I invariably find something I don’t like about it (like basil).
Ree Drummond, better known as The Pioneer Woman (who is apparently a freaking superhero and can do 458390 things in the amount of time it takes me to drag myself out of bed after hitting the snooze button three times), posted the recipe for this salad last summer, and believe me, it is the perfect summer side dish. Or main dish, if you’re as smitten with it as I am.
The smoky, slightly spicy dressing is incredible, and since summertime in Jersey is the perfect time for tomatoes, both these accompaniments shine, but both are completely upstaged by the cubes of smoked gouda. Holy moly.
This guy also likes smoked gouda, as I learned last night. He also likes grass & rocks, but we won’t hold that against him. Or the gouda.
Spicy, smoky pasta salad (adapted from The Pioneer Woman)
12 oz. pasta (such as penne or mostaccioli)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 tbsp. cider vinegar
2 tsp. adobo sauce from a jar of chipotle chilis in adobo
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
salt & pepper to taste
3/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 1/4 cup of smoked gouda, cubed (this is a lot of gouda. I’m just sayin’. If you’re not a complete cheese fiend, you can probably cut this down so you have an even tomato-to-cheese ratio.)
Cook pasta according to directions on the box. Drain, rinse with cold water, place in bowl, move to refrigerator.
Whisk your mayo, cider vinegar, adobo sauce, paprika, salt & pepper in a large bowl. Add your cooled macaroni, halved grape tomatoes and, the holy grail — smoked gouda. Make sure every piece of pasta, every tomato and every gouda cube is slathered in the dressing.
At this point, you can either serve it or eat it directly out of the bowl, refusing to share. I won’t judge you if you choose to do the latter.