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Italian Macaroni Salad recipe

Italian Macaroni Salad recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Salad
  • Pasta salad

This delicious pasta salad is not only packed full of flavour, but it's also quick and easy to make. Macaroni is tossed with broccoli, pepperoni, cherry tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and Parmesan.

207 people made this

IngredientsServes: 6

  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed chillies
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 175g macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 185g broccoli florets
  • 115g sliced pepperoni sausage
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 60g grated mozzarella cheese

MethodPrep:10min ›Cook:15min ›Extra time:2hr chilling › Ready in:2hr25min

  1. Cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain.
  2. In large bowl, stir together oil, vinegar, garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Toss in warm macaroni and Parmsean. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
  3. Add broccoli, pepperoni and tomatoes; toss well. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and serve.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(211)

Reviews in English (148)


OHMYGOD This is sooo good! Let me tell you about a few changes I made here- not to offend but to suit my own preferences. I chose to make my own dressing using a packet of Good Seasons which eliminated the need for the clove of garlic and the salt. I used black olives in place of the brocolli (because I hate the way that vinegar tends to "cook" the brocolli) also I wanted chunks of mozarella to marinate in the dressing so I used the Polly-O string cheese. I had to taste the stuff- just couldn't wait for the fridge time and it was awesome! I hope I can keep my paws out of it until my boyfriend gets home from work! I left the parmesan out until serving time because I know it would absorb too much of the dressing! So glad I doubled the recipe! I will be making this again...and again...-28 Mar 2003

by GSH

I originally made this recipe and was disappointed. I found that you need to double the amount of dressing, otherwise the pasta is very dry and tastless. Also, making the pasta and dressing the day before gives it extra flavor. My family just eats it up, and I always get requests for the recipe. It is really delicious and perfect for hot days when mayonnaise might go bad.-15 Feb 2003


I am happy to have found this quick and yummy pasta salad. Two friends of mine, who tasted it, asked me for the recipe and made it the next day!However I modified the recipe somewhat (partly in error as I was looking simultaneously at another similar recipe), and well, what do you know, it worked,'s what I did - used a 1/4 cup light-tasting olive oil instead of the 1/2 cup vegetable oil, added some chopped bell pepper along with the broccoli, used regular chopped tomatoes instead of the cherry tomatoes, omitted the pepperoni and basil, and marinated the veggies in the dressing while the pasta cooked, adding the cheeses once the pasta was cooled to room temp. I then refrigerated the prepared salad in the refrigerator.-09 Oct 2004

Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad

Everyone needs this Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad recipe on hand to make for barbecues and potlucks. This is a great, classic macaroni salad recipe. It’s the best!

Watch the video showing you how to make this recipe, then scroll to the bottom of this post to print out the complete recipe and make it at home.

Macaroni Salad in a bite

What is Macaroni Salad made of? Cooked macaroni, shredded carrot, green onions, red peppers/capsicum and celery tossed in a dressing made with mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, sugar and garlic powder.

How long can you keep macaroni salad? Up to 5 days in the fridge.

Do you serve macaroni salad hot or cold? It’s best served at room temperature or ever so slightly chilled. But not cold, straight out of the fridge.

Calories in macaroni salad – 319 kj as a side dish

Can you freeze macaroni salad? Yes, because it’s mostly pasta. Thaw naturally (do not microwave thaw) and toss well before serving.

How to Make Italian Pasta Salad

First Cook the Pasta:

This recipe only takes about 15 minutes of actual prep work. Much of the start to finish time is waiting for the pasta water to boil and allowing the pasta to cool. So getting that pot of water on at the very beginning before prepping the veggies or making the dressing should be the first step.

Which Pasta To Use:

I like the fusilli in this recipe because I love the way the oil and vinegar based Italian dressing clings to all that surface area! It really makes it so much more flavorful. I did test this with brown rice pasta, for a gluten-free option. I didn&rsquot love how the pasta was a little limp in appearance when it was cooked according to the package instructions. But we all agreed that we liked the flavor and texture of it.

Prep Dressing and Veggies While the Pasta Cooks:

While you&rsquore bringing that pot of water up to a boil and while it is cooking, you can get your dressing made. See above. And you can also prep the veggies.

Add the Hot Drained Pasta To the Italian Dressing:

The key to maximum flavor is to add the pasta to the oil and vinegar dressing when it is still hot. No need to rinse the pasta once it is drained, the dressing will coat the pasta so it won&rsquot stick together. The hot pasta will absorb the dressing as it cools, and impart overall delicious Italian dressing flavor.

Add the Veggies to the Cooled Pasta:

After the pasta has cooled with the dressing for about 20 minutes, you can add in the artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, olives, basil and scallions.

The BEST Macaroni Salad Recipe

I know I don’t have to tell you this one simple truth, that not all macaroni salads are created equal. Just go to any potluck and sample a dozen different macaroni salads, each a “secret family recipe passed down from Aunt or Granny [so-and-so]”, and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Macaroni salads tend to be the victims of four cardinal sins: 1) Not enough mayo and too darn dry (you can’t be chintzy and expect good results), 2) Not enough flavor (it may be called “macaroni” salad, but that doesn’t mean it’s only about the macaroni). Flavor and color are needed to keep things interesting. 3) The noodles are too mushy (keep them al dente so they have a good, chewy texture). 4) Not enough salt. Carbs – potatoes, pasta, legumes, etc – soak up salt like nothing else. Keep in mind, the word salad comes from the Latin base word sal which means “salt.” So don’t be afraid to be generous with the shaker.

Another item to consider is that while macaroni salad tastes best a couple of hours later after the flavors have had time to meld, it doesn’t make the ideal leftover food the next day because those noodles are thirsty and they’ll continue to soak up liquid, leaving you with a dry salad. If you are going to have leftovers the next day I recommend adding a little more of the mayo sauce before serving.

We’re going to avoid all of these pitfalls and create a macaroni salad we can be showcase with pride!

Have you ever wondered where macaroni salad got its beginnings?

The terms “macaroni salad” and “pasta salad” have different meanings different places, but generally, at least in the U.S., creamy noodle salads are referred to as macaroni salads whereas oil/vinegar based ones are called pasta salads. Pasta salads really started taking off in the U.S. in the 1960’s but macaroni salads go back to the early 20th century with one of the first known published recipes being in 1916 in the book Salads, Sandwiches and Chafing Dish Recipes by Marion Harris Neil. In that early version the author calls for horseradish and heavy cream as the base for the macaroni salad.

While pasta obviously didn’t originate in the U.S. and pasta salads are popular worldwide, the traditional creamy macaroni salad is very much an American classic.

Here is a macaroni salad you can proudly take to any picnic, potluck, or family gathering and you’ll undoubtedly be asked to share your secret recipe!

Deliciously creamy, moist, packed with flavor, the right balance of ingredients, the perfect texture, and visually beautiful, this macaroni salad is simply the BEST!

We’re enlisting the flavor-boosting help of three Lindsay products: California Ripe Sliced Black Olives, Roasted Red Peppers and Capers.

The deep black of the olives add a nice color contrast to the salad along with a pleasant nutty flavor. The roasted red peppers add a bright, vibrant color while infusing the salad with a delicious smoky element. If you prefer more “crunch” to your salad than the celery alone provides, feel free to also add some chopped fresh red bell pepper in addition, but don’t leave out these wonderful roasted peppers. Capers have a deliciously pungent flavor and aroma all to their own and add some wonderful brininess to our salad.

You’re going to love the blend of flavors these ingredients, along with all the others, add this wonderful macaroni salad!

Place the cooked and thoroughly cooled macaroni noodles in a large mixing bowl along with the celery, green onions, olives, roasted red peppers, capers, relish and onions. Toss to combine.

Next combine the sauce ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

Pour the mayo sauce over the pasta salad and stir to thoroughly coat the pasta.

Add salt and pepper to taste. If it doesn’t taste excellent it needs more salt.

Transfer the salad to a non-reactive bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Don’t skip this wait time, it’s crucial to the flavor fo the salad.

Serve as a side the same way you’d serve coleslaw with your favorite barbecued foods (steaks, chicken, fish, sausages, hot dogs, hamburgers, etc) and a green salad or, for a lighter alternative, serve with roasted vegetables, rolls and sliced fruit. Enjoy it at home, outside, at a potluck or on a picnic!

Macaroni Salad with Miracle Whip:

This recipe is inspired by my dad&rsquos. His macaroni salad is a popular dish at his annual Independence Day party, so I think you&rsquore going to enjoy this salad. What I love about the Miracle Whip is the zip and tang taste it gives the macaroni salad.

To get all of the ingredients for this recipe, I headed to my local Giant Eagle. While I was there, I also picked up other grilling and entertaining essentials: hamburger, buns, cute gingham plates, and HEINZ Ketchup.

With everything purchased, I was ready to whip up a delicious and easy meal to celebrate the start of summer.

Wait to add in the mayonnaise dressing

If the vinegar and seasoning are mixed first with the mayonnaise and sour cream, this can dull the taste of the dressing. The fat in mayonnaise makes it difficult for your tastebuds to detect the flavors of the vinegar and seasonings. To avoid this, mix-in the mayonnaise and tangy cream last. The dressing will lightly coat each noodle, but shouldn’t dry it out as it sits. The dressing will thicken up a little more over time as the fats chill in the refrigerator.

Garlicky Lemon Herb Macaroni Salad, a summer barbecue sensation

I wrote this recipe as a defense of curly parsley, because I am sick and tired of people not showing it the respect it deserves. Do you think curly parsley wanted to be relegated to garnish for most of the 20th century? Do you think it asked for chefs and food media to revolt against it at the dawn of the 21st? That it enjoyed being cast aside as culinary kitsch in favor of its flat-leafed cousin? It is not curly parsley’s fault we don’t take it seriously. It’s our fault. We need to open our eyes and see if for what it really is: an herb with punchy flavor, incredible texture, and, most of all, dignity.

Now, I’ve never been a huge fan of macaroni salad, because as an Italian-American I would be disowned for putting mayonnaise on pasta. But, much as I am viewing curly parsley from a new angle these days, I can see how macaroni salad as a concept has its merits, too. Instead of mayo or Miracle Whip, we could start with a rich, garlicky aioli, which is essentially mayonnaise that grew up in a rich neighborhood. Hawaiians give their iconic macaroni salad its signature tang by tossing the pasta with vinegar as soon as it’s out of the pot what if we did the same, but with fresh lemon juice? And instead of the carrots, celery, and whatever the hell else people throw in for texture, we could go all-in with curly parsley, which is sturdy enough to stay crunchy amidst it all?

That’s the fun thing about salads: there are no rules. If you want your version of this macaroni salad to be less lemony, more garlicky, or extra parsley-y, go right ahead. Can’t find tarragon or chives at the store? Use whatever herbs you like. If you’d rather make a traditional egg-yolk-based aioli instead of using my trick of emulsifying more oil into pre-made mayonnaise, knock yourself out. Just do yourself the favor of trying out this recipe, regardless of your current feelings about curly parsley and/or macaroni salad. Delicious things happen when you look at things just a little bit differently.

Recipe notes and tips

  • Pasta: use your favorite kind and shape.
  • Veggies: We love adding some crunch into the pasta salad. You may add finely chopped carrots. If you like peas, you may add them as well,
  • Greek yogurt: the idea is to skip the mayo. So use any plain yogurt you have handy. Use a dairy-free option for a vegan-friendly option.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Do not overcook the pasta. Cook it close to al dente if possible.
  • Rinse out the pasta with cold water to stop it from cooking. You do not want a mushy pasta salad.
  • optional: for a hint of sweetness to balance out the acidity, try adding a tablespoon of honey.

Pasta Salad Dressing

This Italian dressing is one of my all time favourite Pasta Salad Dressings. Dried herbs, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, a touch of sugar, pinch of red pepper and the secret ingredient – parmesan cheese.

The parmesan just dissolves into the dressing and adds that extra flavour edge that makes anything you pour it over totally irresistible!

TIP: Make a standby Italian Dressing recipe that you can keep on hand just by using garlic powder rather than fresh garlic!


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