Hallelujah to spring and summer! The sun is shining and life is good. Let’s eat outside.
As soon as the first glimmer of sunlight appears, the barbecues are smoking. Everyone is eating in parks, backyards and on their decks. They are eating the summer foods like hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad and macaroni salad.
Macaroni salad is similar yet different in every home and in every delicatessen across America. The personal tastes of individual cooks are added to each version of macaroni salad. I started making my own macaroni salad about 30 years ago.
Mayonnaise and I are not good friends. When I first started making macaroni salad, I added vinegar to the mayonnaise. It tasted good but sometimes it curdled a little. Then I added milk to thin out the mayonnaise, making it smoother. That worked fine. Water works well also to thin out the mayonnaise.
I learned these tricks by tasting other homemade macaroni salads and asking the cooks how they made them. The cooked corn ingredient in my version actually came from my Japanese friend. She invited me to lunch and served macaroni salad with corn. I had never seen it served with that way before, and it was good.
I have been very fortunate to have grown up with a close family. My house was on a very busy street in Queens with three factories on the block and the Long Island Railroad two houses away from mine. The house was Victorian-style—old with a gazebo covered in grapevines on the property.
Inside the gazebo were benches and a table. During the summer the big treat was eating inside the shaded gazebo with my family and my mom’s sister’s family, who lived downstairs from us. Those were special times and we knew it.
It was a lot of extra work to carry everything outside and wait for my dad to get home from work before we could eat, but it was worth it. Those were the lazy days of summer.
Macaroni salad is only a side dish but to me, it represents summer, and summer is a relaxing time of year. It is also a time for eating outside together with friends and family.
I don’t have a gazebo on my little piece of property I have now, but I do have a deck. My husband built it himself. It took two years to build, and believe me, I nagged him about it because we couldn’t take vacations since the money was used to build the deck.
He was right: He said I would love it and I do. We eat Sunday breakfast out there and read the papers. I entertain more in the summer because of the deck—I love that deck. We have had many happy memories on that deck already, and we are working on many more.
If you have a deck, yard or a patio, get out there and have some meals outdoors. If you don’t have any of those areas available to you, pack a picnic basket and head to the park. Before you know it, you will be building your own memory of summer foods and summer fun.
- 1 16-ounce package elbow macaroni
- 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup sweet red pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup green Italian pepper, chopped
- 2 to 3 stalks of celery, chopped
- 1/4 cup of cooked corn (optional)
- 3/4 to 1 cup Hellmann’s real mayonnaise (not low fat)
- 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or water or milk
- Salt and pepper
- Cook elbow macaroni until al dente (a little hard, not too soft) according to package. Immediately when finished cooking, drain macaroni in a colander under cold water to prevent it from becoming sticky.
- Meanwhile in a large bowl add chopped onion, celery, peppers and corn. When the macaroni is drained well and cool toss it in with the vegetables.
- Add mayonnaise and salt and pepper. (I sprinkle in water or milk or apple cider vinegar to make a creamy texture.) Mix well. (Do not use all three; just add one of the liquids to thin out the mayonnaise.)
- Serve immediately or refrigerate for later.
- ENJOY! Macaroni Salad is really great for summertime or any time of year!
Mariann Raftery, creator of Somebody's Mom blog, cooks up comfort food recipes for families here at home, as well as sending homemade cookie care packages to our American soldiers overseas. Somebody's Mom Cooking videos at http://www.youtube.com, search "Thesomebodysmom".