I made this for Sam but she’s still having end-of-schoolyear fun with friends so she hasn’t tasted it yet. It’s really just macaroni salad. But because the usual chicken or ham in this very ordinary salad packs it with flavor, you take the meat away and you really have to do something, or a few somethings, to offset the loss. And it isn’t just the loss in flavor but the loss in protein too. The solution?
Cheese and cheese. And for added texture — chopped cucumber. Ah, the addition of cucumber is amazing. The subtle crunch, the faint sweetness… And then, of course, I added more chopped veggies than usual. More carrot, more celery… And, for the finishing touch — toasted chopped cashew nuts. Serve on a bed of romaine lettuce with buttered toast on the side and you got a wonderful vegetarian meal.
You may change the ratio of ingredients to suit your taste. Use more celery is you’re into celery. Add more pineapple if you like the salad to be sweeter. You get the idea. It is combination of the ingredients that makes this salad so good, not any strict proportion.
- 2 cups cooked macaroni drained and cooled
- 2 tablespoons chopped carrot I microwaved it on HIGH for two minutes with 2 tbsps. of water after chopping
- 2 tablespoons chopped celery
- 2 tablespoons pickle relish
- 2 tablespoons crushed pineapple drained (I used canned)
- 1/2 cup cubed cucumber
- 1/4 cup cheese any variety although the soft ones are preferable, cut into half-inch cubes
- 1/4 cup cream cheese softened to room temperature
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- salt to taste
- white pepper to taste
- 2 pinches sugar for balance
- toasted chopped nuts to garnish
Place the macaroni, carrot, celery, pickle relish, crushed pineapple, cucumber and cubed cheese in a mixing bowl. Toss to combine.
Mix together the mayonnaise and softened cream cheese. Add to the macaroni mixture. Season with salt, white pepper and sugar, Toss to blend. Chill for a few hours.
Sprinkle with toasted chopped nuts before serving.
A tip: After chilling, the flavors will blend and the pasta will have absorbed a lot of the saltiness. The mixture may also appear more dry than it was when you prepared it. Taste. Adjust the seasonings and add more mayonnaise, if needed.