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.





There are few soups that can get away with being cold. As a favorite of this small group, Gazpacho often outshines the others as the most typical cold soup. However, I believe it’s really just an excuse to eat soup on a hot summer day. Since tomato is the star of this famous Spanish specialty, August is the perfect time for a homemade batch. Garden fresh bold red tomatoes are juicy and flavorful, making them the ideal candidate for this simple soup.

This is a combination of two recipes: the Gazpacho recipe from “The Art of Good Cooking” and an unpublished recipe I found titled “Ann Thayer’s Gazpacho.” Each recipe is perfectly fine on its own but I wanted to combine the two as a tribute to the friendship between my grandmother and the late Ann Thayer. Ann was one of the few friends of my grandmother that I knew as a child and consistently visited on trips to NYC before I lived here. She met my grandmother in one of James Beard’s cooking classes and in her words “saw that Paula could cook circles around everyone else in the class” and immediately paired up with her. Although Ann was never apart of the famous “cooking world” of journalists and chefs like Beard, Craig Claiborne, and Andre Soltner that my grandmother often entertained, she was one my grandmother’s closest friends and stood by her side through her sickness and eventual death.

The main difference between the two recipes is the amount of liquid and bread used. The unpublished recipe blends pieces of bread into the base along with the tomatoes and vegetables. I decided to skip the bread because I just don’t think it’s necessary. If your tomatoes are ripe and your vegetables fresh and crisp, they should easily be the focus of this classic farm fresh chilled soup.


1 small cucumber, seeded and diced
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
6 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced – see note
2 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons tarragon wine vinegar
1 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper, and a pinch of dried marjoram

peeled, seeded, diced cucumber
finely chopped onion
seeded , diced green pepper
garlic seasoned croutons

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into blender and blend until smooth (this may need to be done in batches). Taste for seasoning and correct. Place in refrigerator and chill. Serve as cold as possible with toppings.

Serves 6


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.


Vegetable Frittata

Vegetable Frittata

Vegetable FrittataThere are a couple different ways to make a vegetable frittata. You can put it straight into the oven casserole style, or you can start it on the stove and move it to the oven. Either way produces that delicious eggy goodness. In this unpublished Paula Peck recipe, the oven only approach is suggested. However, I found that the stove-to-oven method works equally well here and allows for a one pot meal (so to speak).  Just saute the veggies in an a large oven proof saute pan and once soft, add the eggs. When the eggs begin to set, drizzle a little olive oil around the edge (this is optional but helps reduce sticking) and put it in the oven.

Just like the cooking method, the selection of vegetables can also vary. Local asparagus is abundant right now so this seemed like an obvious choice. Broccoli, green beans, potato, tomato, or even cauliflower would be tasty as well. With just a few substitutes, this regular vegetable frittata can become a fancy “Spring” or “Summer” frittata – ready for its brunch debut.


2lbs small zucchini cut a bit less than 1/4″ thick
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced celery (or asparagus cut in 1/2″ pieces)
1 cup sliced green pepper
1 cup green onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
8 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add zucchini and asparagus (if using). Saute, turning frequently until golden and tender.

Grease a 9 inch ceramic dish or its equivalent. Combine celery (if using), green peppers, onions, and garlic. Place a third of the mixture on the bottom of greased dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Make a layer of sauteed zucchini on top, then another layer of vegetables, seasoning, and finally another of sauteed zucchini.

Beat eggs, adding cream, Parmesan, thyme, salt, and pepper. Pour over vegetables. Bake  for 30-45 minutes or until egg is set. Cut into wedges to serve.

Serves 5-6



Individual Egg Potato and Cheese Casseroles

Individual Egg Potato Cheese Casserole

So I might have used this recipe as an excuse to use these cute little individual casserole dishes from Le Creuset. There’s something welcoming and comforting about having your own personal casserole, lid included. What’s layered underneath the two peeping egg yolk eyes? Alternating layers of mozzarella cheese and potato lightly seasoned with with dried herbs and fresh parsley. Let’s face it: between the melted strings of mozzarella and the brilliant yellow runny yolk flowing over slices of baked potato, gooyeness has undoubtedly taken over this brunch dish.


4 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and cut into slices about 1/3″ thick
3/4 lb mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
salt and pepper
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup melted butter
6 eggs
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon dried tarragon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 3-6 ramekins (6 small ramekins or 3 large ones).

Place a layer of potato at the bottom of each ramekin. Cover with slices of mozzarella. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, 1/4 teaspoon each dried tarragon and oregano, parmesan cheese, and parsley. Add another layer of potatoes and repeat seasoning. Add a layer of mozzarella slices. Brush the top of each ramekin with melted butter. Bake about 30 minutes. Break eggs on top (one egg for small ramekins, 2 eggs for large). Sprinkle with remaining butter, herbs, salt, and pepper. Return to oven and bake about 20 minutes or until eggs are set.

Serves 3-6 (depending on the size of ramekins used).

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


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