Common etiquette rules that if you’re invited to a friendly BBQ, you offer to bring something to add to the pot. So when I ask the big question, I often hear, “Sure that would be great. How about a side dish?”
Many hosts think they’re doing you a favor by offering the wide berth of side dish options. But this simple phrase can throw some self-respecting cooks into a triple gainer upside down axel with a spin.
Bringing a “little something” to a barbecue or potluck shouldn’t be that hard, but the vast spectrum of “side dish” gets some of us sideways. A green salad? Baked beans? Quinoa? Hot? Cold? Vegan? Gluten-free? Spicy? Not too spicy and no nuts for the 3 year old with allergies? Options, options, options!!
To that I say go basic. Take your little monopoly man and just move on back to start.
Although I was never a fan of macaroni salad as a child—it too often had an odd metallic taste, most likely due to being of the mass-produced, store-bought variety. I’ve now come to respect it as an adult. I even
like crave it.
And this recipe I came up with, I love. Jeff said its the best macaroni salad he’s ever had—and the boy’s had himself some mac salad over the years.
So my well-mannered advice? Go easy, go basic and go macaroni.
- 1 16 oz. package medium shell macaroni
- ½ cup red onion, chopped
- 1½ cups celery, chopped (about 3 ribs)
- ½ red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup peperoncini, sliced
- 1 cup prosciutto, sliced
- ½ lb smoked mozzarella, sliced in ¼ inch chunks
- 3 T capers
- ½ cup parsley, chopped
- 1½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup buttermilk (low fat if preferred)
- ¼ cup peperoncini juice (or more to taste)
- 1 T red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1½ tsp pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add macaroni and boil according to package directions until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. In a large bowl, gently combine pasta and next 8 ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix mayonnaise, buttermilk, peperoncini juice, wine vinegar, sugar and salt and pepper. Add mayo mixture to pasta mixture and gently combine. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
And now for few more options to add to your BBQ repertoire.
photo > One Vanilla Bean
House smoked salmon is the star thanks to Cecilia’s smoking’ skillz in One Vanilla Bean‘s Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad. Based on her favorite recipe from Whole Foods, this homemade version showcases just 10 ingredients to create a saucy but simple side salad.
photo > Buns in My Oven
One of my favorite summer dinners is thick cut bacon, crisp iceberg lettuce and tomato still warm from the garden on toasted and mayo’ed old school white bread. A classic BLT sandwich. So when I came across Buns In My Oven‘s BLT Macaroni Salad recipe it looked like a must try. And I 100% agree with Karly when she says, “Macaroni salad just screams summer!” And so does BLT.
photo > Lets Dish Recipes
Dunkley’s Famous Macaroni Salad from Let’s Dish is a classic macaroni salad with an Italian twist. Three different cheeses, salami and black olives with old school mini tube pastas are dressed in a simple mayonnaise dressing spiked with garlic. Danelle warns there’s a fair amount of chopping, but keeping your uniform will ensure you get a yummy taste in every bite.
photo > Luna Cafe
The basic mac salad. Perfect. The Luna Cafe‘s Old-Fashioned Creamy Macaroni Salad combines crunchy celery and red bell pepper and chunky hard boiled eggs, sweetly soured dill pickles and sprinkles it all with sweet peas. This tangy salad makes enough for a crowd, but you may want to stash a take-away to stash for midnight munchies.