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.