There are recipes that take you right back to the past, and this Vintage Macaroni Salad recipe does that for me. One taste and I think of backyard barbecues, picnics, and wonderful holidays and sunday meals with family. We always ate macaroni salad year round, from the Fourth of July to Christmas to Easter and everything in between. As an adult, I realize why it made an appearance at every event. It’s easy to throw together, the ingredients are inexpensive — and everyone, young and old, loves it.
I know many people prefer a sweeter macaroni salad, but I like mine with dill pickles and just a hint of sweetness. In the recipe notes, you’ll find recommendations for substituting sweet pickle relish in place of the dill the recipe calls for. And yes, I use relish instead of cutting up pickles myself — although you’re most welcome to do that. I find using relish speeds up the salad making process and tastes just as good. Some people use pickles for crunch, but I add plenty of celery for that. The relish distributes itself really well throughout the salad so you get a little taste of pickle with every bite, which I love.
I make my macaroni salad with regular elbow macaroni pasta, but really any kind of dried pasta will work. The primary issue is finding a pasta shape that’s small enough to still give you the same delicious bite that always has bits of celery, onion, and egg at once. So I wouldn’t recommend a spaghetti or a penne. Smaller pasta shapes are best. In a pinch, I once used the alphabet pasta I keep for vegetable soup, so don’t worry too much about substituting.
Mustard is an important component of any macaroni salad dressing. Yellow mustard, the kind you’d expect to find on a hot dog at a baseball stadium, is my preference for this recipe. To me, it tastes more like the classic macaroni salad I grew up with. There have been times that Dijon was the only mustard I had in the house and I’ve used it as a substitute. This salad is good with Dijon, and I’m sure it would be good with most prepared mustards, but I like the uncomplicated bite of yellow mustard best.