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The Tastiest Macaroni Salad


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  • Salad:
  • 4 cups small pasta
  • 3 cup minced celery (about 6 stalks)
  • 3 cups tiny shelled peas - fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup chopped fresh red bell pepper
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green onion
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs - chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped dill or sweet pickles - optional
  • Dressing:
  • 1½ cups mayonnaise
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 large cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt or more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste


Level of difficulty Average
Cost Average budget


Step 1

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the peas. Boil for 1 minute only, remove with a strainer, and then refresh under cold running water. Put into a large mixing bowl.

Step 2

Add the macaroni to the still boiling water. Boil for 6-8 minutes or so, until the macaroni is just tender but not mushy. Drain and flush well with cold running water until cool. Drain again and put into the large mixing bowl with the peas.

Step 3

Add the celery, red bell pepper, and green onion, plus eggs and pickles if using. (Add the olives later if you are making the salad a day or more ahead.)

Step 4

To make the dressing, scoop the mayonnaise into a medium-size bowl and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the buttermilk, lemon juice, vinegar, Dijon, garlic, salt, and black pepper to taste. The dressing will taste overly tangy and salty at this point—which is perfect.

Step 5

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. If necessary, season with additional salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

Step 6

Mound into a 3-quart serving bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 3 quarts; Serves 8-12; or more, if other salads are present.

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