Curried Macaroni Salad

Curried Macaroni Salad

Curried Macaroni Salad

My on-going quest to conquer bland mayo-based picnic salads has now lead me to macaroni salad. Not only is this curried version packed with healthy farm-fresh vegetables and savory flavors, it’s barely recognizable as that drab slop we call macaroni salad, usually doused in mayo. This is a good thing. If you are a mayo lover, you can always add a bit more mayo for that saucy texture but as it stands, the curry powder combined with the parsley and scallions makes this simple pasta salad unexpectedly flavorful.

Like most others in my possession, this Curried Macaroni Salad recipe was written 50 years ago. It seems surprisingly innovative – curry powder, chutney, and multiple fresh vegetables don’t sound like they belong in a macaroni salad born in the 1960’s. But that creativity has proven to be one of my grandmother’s legacies. Just recently, one of her good friends recalled my grandmother’s love of Indian food (she loved all types of international foods). This is one of a few recipes in “The Art of Good Cooking” that contains curry powder or some sort of ingredient that we often associate with Indian food. And just like the others, the amount of curry powder (or spices used) must be adjusted because apparently they were much weaker in those days (2 tablespoons per pound of pasta!).

The last addition I would like to call your attention to is the chutney or relish. I’m not 100% sure what she referred to as chutney in those days or how many different kinds there were but I’m sure it was nothing like the variety we have now. I love the addition of chutney but be careful when choosing what type to use. That spicy red pickled mango chutney might not be the best option but a green cilantro chutney is delicious (reduce from ½ cup to just a few tablespoons though). Plain relish also works well but it’s not as exciting or perhaps “international” as my grandmother may have intended.

This recipe can be easily halved.


1 lb elbow macaroni, cooked in boiling salted water until tender, then drained
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/8 cup wine vinegar
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
1 small green pepper, diced
3/4 cup thinly sliced, peeled, seeded cucumber
1 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup chopped parsley
2/3 cup finely sliced carrots
1/2 cup sweet relish or chutney
salt and pepper

Rinse macaroni in hot water and keep warm.

Combine mayonnaise, curry powder and wine vinegar in a small bowl, and pour over warm macaroni. Add remaining ingredients; toss gently. Allow to come to room temperature.

Note: Bits of tuna fish or smoked meat may be added to this dish to make it more substantial.

Adapted from “The Art of Good Cooking,” by Paula Peck.


Two-Toned Coleslaw

Two Toned Cole Slaw

Two-Toned Cole Slaw

As the quintessential picnic and BBQ salad, coleslaw is member of that famous family of American mayo salads. It often goes unnoticed, flying under the radar, a dull salad that always seems to stick around. Coleslaw remains a popular side but you almost never hear “ooh a side of coleslaw would be perfect with this” or “I’m craving coleslaw with my hamburger.” It’s usually more of a last minute thought, often an impulse buy to a fill that extra space on your plate of BBQ ribs.

Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly excited when I came across the my grandmothers unpublished recipe for two-toned coleslaw. I almost skipped right over it. When I started to read the ingredients though, it occurred to me that this was an actual salad and not the sugary bland mush of a slaw I was used to. In addition to the cabbage and carrots, this slaw has freshly sliced cucumber, celery, green bell pepper, and scallion. The contrast between the vegetables made this coleslaw worth a shot. It’s not even necessary to make the mayo for the dressing from scratch (for those of you concerned about eating raw eggs). But it does give it a nice richness that’s worth the extra work. With this old fashioned slaw all dressed up, it finally deserves that prominent salad spot at the picnic table.


3 cups shredded green cabbage
3 cups shredded red cabbage
2/3 cup finely sliced celery
1/2 cup sliced cucumber (peeled and seeded)
1/2 cups chopped green pepper
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup sliced scallions
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 cup homemade mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar

Combine all vegetables and celery seed in a bowl. Toss to mix thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, combine mayonnaise, sugar, and half the vinegar. Taste for seasoning and add remaining vinegar and additional sugar if needed. Pour dressing over cabbage mixture. Mix together thoroughly. Chill for at least an hour before using.

Serves 6.


Baked Heirloom Tomatoes and Onions

Baked Heirloom Tomatoes and Onions

You may be looking at this photo and thinking this dish is leftover from summer, that this was taken in mid-August when Tomatoes are supposed to be at their peak. I actually found these fabulous heirloom tomatoes in all different sizes prominently displayed at one of the busiest whole foods in the country here in NYC this week. And at summer prices. Pumpkins and apples are definitely here (though still on the expensive side) but let’s use up the best of summer before jumping into fall.
I was surprised by both the simplicity and tastiness of this dish from “The Art of Good Cooking.” I added some fresh herbs like basil, parsley, and thyme both before and after baking. I then sprinkled the whole dish with fresh feta cheese and served it on slices of a toasted seeded grain bread. A healthy and light appetizer or lunch reminiscent of those dog days of summer and the colorful produce it brings.

2 large spanish onions
salt and pepper
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-3 large heirloom tomatoes
1 sprig fresh thyme
8 fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon capers (optional)
feta cheese for sprinkling (optional)
1 loaf rustic grain or rye bread, sliced (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Peel onions and slice about 1/4 inch thick. Place onions in baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle a little olive oil over each slice. Cut tomatoes in slices. Place a slice of tomato on each slice of onion. Or, stagger slices, alternating onion and tomato. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Lay 4-5 basil leaves across the top or sandwich them between the tomato onion layers. Place a sprig of thyme between the 2 rows of layers.

Bake about 45 minutes or until onions are tender and tomatoes are wrinkled. Baste occasionally with additional oil if needed.

Remove from oven and garnish with remaining basil leaves, chopped parsley, capers (if using) and sprinkle with feta cheese.

Serve warm or at room temperature on toasted slices of rustic grain or rye bread.

Serves 6.

Adapted from “The Art of Good Cooking,” By Paula Peck.


Tricolor Potato Salad

Multicolor Potato Salad

In the interest of the hot summer days ahead, I’m continuing my testing of easy classic salads. The simplicity of some of the salad recipes in “The Art of Good Cooking” is refreshing. The base of this potato salad recipe, for example, has just five ingredients (not including the dressing). To change it up a little, I added kalamata olives and used tricolor baby potatoes. You’ll find these bite size potatoes sold in mesh bags which usually include purple “Peruvian” potatoes (who’s skin, I found, falls off easily after cooking), red potatoes, and white potatoes- similar to fingerlings. You could, of course, use all one type of potato, but what’s the fun in that?

Potato salad has somewhat of a lengthy history that’s intertwined with the long and overwhelming history of the potato, of course. As a basic salad that includes potatoes and some kind of dressing, many different countries (mostly European) have their own versions. Though I haven’t been able to find any official documentation, it seems German potato salad was one of the first (or the first) potato salads to make it to the US. Interestingly, my grandmother mentions in her notes for this recipe that German potato salad normally contains mayo, but that this vinaigrette version was preferred by her family. I always thought the opposite: that German potato salad never had mayo and always had some type of vinaigrette. After a little research, it appears that different parts of Germany have different “traditional” German potato salads. Some are creamier and often contain mayo, while others do not.

I included two sets of instructions below: the original and modified. Since I often don’t want the extra heat from the oven in the summertime (and prefer a quicker version), I like to simply cook the potatoes and dress them. The original recipe requires cooking and then baking them. Both methods are delicious. Since potatoes hold up well to seasoning and salt, kalamata olives are a welcome contrast in both texture and flavor. Pack this one away for your next party in the park and happy picnicking.


2 lbs tricolor baby creamer potatoes
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1/4 cup olive oil (2/3 cups for the baking version)
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
1 onion, minced
1 small green pepper, minced
1/3 cup parsley
3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives

Modified Quick Cooking Version
Wash potatoes; place in a deep pot. Cover potatoes with water and stock. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain and cool until they can be easily handled. Peel the purple potatoes. Cut all potatoes in quarters.

Whisk together oil and vinegar until emulsified. Add vinaigrette to warm potatoes and refrigerate until cold.

Add olives, minced onion, green pepper, and chopped parsley.

Original Version
Wash potatoes; place in a deep pot. Cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain, cool, and refrigerate until they are cold. Peel the purple potatoes. Slice all potatoes and place in an oven-proof dish.

Add chicken stock, olive oil and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Place in a 350 degree oven for 1/2 hour, or until the potatoes are hot and liquid is simmering. Remove potatoes from oven and allow them to stand until lukewarm.

Add olives, minced onion, green pepper, and chopped parsley. Chill and serve.

Serves 6

Adapted from “The Art of Good Cooking” by Paula Peck.


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