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Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Summer Macaroni Salad

There is no greater joy than to dig into a bowl of cold pasta salad on a lazy summer afternoon. Loaded with the healthy goodness of colorful veggies and a homemade creamy hung curd dressing this vegetarian Summer Macaroni salad is refreshing and full of flavors. The best part about this easy pasta salad recipe is that it does not require any fancy ingredients and comes together in no time. Serve it at picnics, as a light meal with grilled veggies and some toasted bread, as a side dish, or simply have it as a mid day snack on its own, you are going to love it either way.  

What are Salads?

A salad is a dish consisting of a mixture of small pieces of food, usually vegetables or fruit. Salads are usually served at room temperature or chilled with few exemptions like this Lebanese Spiced potato salad, Batata Harra which is served warm. There is a wide variety of salads like the green salads that make use of fresh, raw, leafy green veggies, fruit salads ( Muskmelon Salsa, Chickpea Mango Salad), vegetable salads (Moorish Crunch Salad, bean salads (Lobia bean saladMoong Sprouts Salad), pasta salads and mixed salads that incorporate meat, poultry or seafood along with fruit and vegetables.

Healthy Benefits of Eating Salads:

Salads made using fresh fruits and vegetables are appealing to eyes as they add colors to our palate, they are easy to make, have a flavorful taste and a crunchy texture and act as mood enhancers. Let's have a look at the healthy benefits of including salads to our daily diets. source
  • Salads are rich in vitamins and minerals, so eating salad everyday will increase the level of powerful antioxidants in your blood.
  • A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease,lower the risk of digestive problems and have a positive effect upon blood sugar.
  • Eating a fiber rich salad before meals will help you feel full faster, so you will consume less calories than you might when a meal is served without such appetizer. Thus eating salads before the actual meal helps in weight control.
  • The high levels of water found in salad veggies improves hydration in our bodies, which is necessary for youthful skin.
  • You can make your salads antioxidant rich by making your own oil-based salad dressing and including herbs, lemon and vinegar to it. Moreover, the store bought ready made salad dressings are often loaded with high fructose corn syrup for flavor and processed trans fats to prolong shelf life. Low-fat dressings usually have increased sugar levels, with fructose added to compensate for the loss of flavor.

What is a pasta salad?

A pasta salad is a salad dish prepared with one or more types of pasta, is mostly served chilled and often tossed in a vinegar, oil or mayonnaise-based dressing. It is typically served as an appetizer, side dish or as a main course.

What goes into my Summer Macaroni Salad?

My summer macaroni salad is refreshing, full of flavors, loaded with colorful veggies and coated in a creamy rich homemade salad dressing. So let's have a look at the ingredients one by one.
  • Macaroni: I have used elbow macaroni made with durum wheat semolina (suji) to make this salad as it is healthy, small in size and matches perfectly with the diced veggies giving the salad a uniform look. You may use your favorite pasta instead.
  • Hung Curd: The key ingredient of this salad dressing is hung curd. I have used it instead of mayonnaise. 
  • Honey: A little drizzle of honey imparts a mild sweet flavor to the salad which complements very well with the hung curd in the salad dressing. This is an optional ingredient however and you may skip it if you do not love a sweet salad.
  • Lemon Juice:  My next ingredient of the salad dressing is fresh lemon juice which gives an appealing and refreshing citrus flavor.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: A little apple cider vinegar imparts a sour taste and balances all the flavors of the salad dressing.You may use any other variety of vinegar if apple cider vinegar is not available
  • Olive Oil: I have used olive oil only to coat the drained pasta so that it does not absorb the salad dressing.
  • Salt and Pepper:  Salt and black pepper are quintessential salad dressing elements. 
  • Chili Flakes: I like a bit of spice in my pasta salad. You may however skip chili flakes if serving the salad to toddlers and small kids.
  • Vegetables:  Fresh and crisp colorful vegetables add a crunch and bite to the otherwise soft and creamy pasta salad. I have used red onion, carrots, boiled sweet corn and green peas, tomatoes, and cucumber. Colored bell peppers also go well in this salad.
  • Herbs: I have used finely chopped fresh cilantro. You may use any fresh or dried herb. 
Serving Suggestions:
  • Pasta salad is often served as a side dish or appetizer.
  • It can be served at picnics, pool parties with barbecue.
  • You may also serve it as a light meal with some toasted bread or baguette slices and grilled veggies. 
  • Pasta salad can also be enjoyed on its own as a healthy mid-day snack.

Related Event:

It is month-end and time to post for my Facebook gourmet group, Shhh! Cooking Secretly Challenge. This group was started by Priya's versatile recipes and taken further to date by Mayuri di. Her healthy bhel is a guilt-free snack that i am tempted to try out soon. She has baked left-over roti to replace the deep fried chaat puri in her bhel which is loaded with raw veggies,fruits and sprouts . Isn't it brilliant! The theme for the month of June was Summer Salads suggested by Kalyani. She has many delicious and healthy salads on her blog like this Warm barley summer salad with kiwi and roasted peppers that are worth trying. In this group, each member takes turns to propose the theme for the month. All participating members are divided into pairs and both partners exchange a set of secret ingredients using which, both have to prepare a dish as per the theme. The other members of the group then take turns to guess the two secret ingredients just by looking at the pic of the dish. Doesn't all this sound interesting! If you are a blogger and wish to join this group, do let us know in the comment section below. My partner for this month was Rafeeda. I have been paired with her for the first time and i am amazed by the array of recipes from Malabar Cuisine in her blog. Her blog is a home to more than 1400 recipes. I also like her delicious bakes that can be easily recreated from her detailed recipes. I gave Rafeeda lettuce and mayonnaise as her secret ingredients and she made a flavorful Easy Coleslaw using the ingredients. In return she gave me sweet corn and hung curd and i made this delicious summer salad for the theme. Meanwhile, do not forget to check out her amrood chaat recipe.

                                              चित्र में ये शामिल हो सकता है: वह टेक्स्ट जिसमें 'SHHH! COOKING SECRETLY' लिखा है

Preparation Time:10 minutes
Cooking Time:20 minutes
Serves: 4

  • 1 cup elbow macaroni (i have used durum wheat suji macaroni)
  • 1 cup hung curd
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoon honey (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  1. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water with few drops of olive oil according to the package instructions, until al dente. Drain well and reserve the water in which pasta was cooked. Use it in your soups. Rinse the pasta with cold water. This will not only cool the pasta but also make it non-sticky by removing the starch. Drizzle some olive oil over the drained and rinsed pasta to coat it lightly with the oil. This step will prevent the pasta from soaking up the salad dressing.

 2. While the pasta cools down completely, we will prepare the salad dressing. For that in a mixing bowl take hung curd. Add apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, honey, black pepper, salt and chili flakes to it. Give a good stir. Our salad dressing is ready. If you wish do a taste test at this stage and add more flavorings to your salad dressing as per your taste.

3. Finely chop the salad veggies, red onion, cucumber, tomatoes( i usually deseed the tomatoes and remove the pulp while using them in a salads) and carrots. Boil the sweet corn and green peas if using.

4. Mix the veggies, macaroni and 2/3 rd of the salad dressing in a bowl and give a good toss. Add some finely chopped cilantro and freshly crushed black pepper to the salad. Allow the salad to chill until serving time.

5. Add the remaining salad dressing to our macaroni salad just before serving. Enjoy the flavorful and refreshing macaroni salad on its own or serve it as a side dish with some roasted veggies and grilled bread.

Recipe Notes:
  • To make the hung curd at home, add about 2 cups of thick curd or plain yogurt in a muslin cloth lined strainer. Gather and tie the sides of the muslin cloth and allow it to hang on a hook for about 4-5 hours with a bowl underneath to collect the dripping whey. After all the extra liquid has strained out you get a creamy rich hung curd that is ready to be used in your pasta dressing.
  • To keep the dressing stick to the pasta, toss the pasta with about 2/3rd of the dressing while it is warm and add the remaining before serving.
  • The key to keeping a pasta salad from drying is to cook the pasta right. Follow the package directions to cook the pasta. If it is under cooked, it will not absorb and grab the dressing, making it not so flavorful. If you overcook the pasta, it will be completely soggy and gross. 
  • Rinse the pasta in water while you make this cold summer salad that is not served immediately. 
  • I have made this pasta salad using macaroni, you may use your favorite pasta.
  • You may use herbs and veggies of your choice in this salad. Colored bell peppers are a great choice for this salad. I have not used it as my little one does not like it.
  • Pasta salad is often served as a side dish or appetizer, however you may also serve it as a light meal with some toasted bread or baguette slices and grilled veggies. 
  • Coating the drained pasta in a thin layer of olive oil ensures a water-repellent barrier is created between the pasta and the salad dressing so that pasta is kept from soaking up the dressing.
I hope a few of you would love to try out this recipe. If you do so, feel free to share your feedback with us in the form of likes and comments in the comment section below this post. All your suggestions are also more than welcome. If you like my work and feel it is worth following, do hit the follow button at the top right corner of this blog. Your appreciation means a lot to me. For more recipes and new updates follow us on social media.

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  1. Macaroni salad looks so inviting. Light on the stomach.We can always add whatever we like as add ons

    1. Absolutely di. Macaroni salad serve light evening meals especially during Summers. Thank you.

  2. Such a detailed post..Loved it. The creamy salad looks really tempting and no doubt about the taste. And yeah, loved your collection of salads. Looks absolutely delicious.

    1. Thank you so much Priya. Do give it a try. Hung curd makes this salad creamy and delicious.

  3. I actually love how creamy the curd has made that salad look... so colorful, so filling... So glad to have been associated with you during this month... :)

    1. Thank you Rafeeda. Yes, the hung curd adds a creamy rich texture to the salad. Do give it a try. It was indeed a pleasure working with you.

  4. Beautiful pics, Poonam!

    The salad looks so delicious and inviting. I love that you have used hung curd in the dressing rather than mayonnaise. Looks so rich and creamy!

  5. The weather has changed again in Mombasa and hot humid days are back and salads are back on my menu. This pasta salad is definitely filling, easy to make and a good way to enjoy some basic veggies.

    1. You are right di. This macaroni salad I just perfect on a Summer afternoon.

  6. My hubby loves pasta based cold salad. Yours looks perfect and will deftly be upto V's liking . Am going to try it very soon :-)

    1. Thank you Priya. Looking forward to your feedback once you try it.

  7. Macaroni Salad is ideal for a lazy afternoon meal. It looks so tasty and will be a hit at my home.

    1. Thank you Jayashree. Do try it out and share your feedback with us.

  8. I will skip honey and make spicy macaroni salad. Pictures looks too tempting Poonam and color with lot of vegetables

    1. Yes. You can make a spicier version and I guess it will great as well. Do share your version once you try it.

  9. Love the colourful veggies, should try this with Bbq party.

  10. This cold pasta salad looks irresistible. It is so nutritious and filling. Beautiful clicks Poonam.

    1. Thank you di. Glad to know that you liked the post.

  11. I love pasta salad and this looks very inviting, filling and healthy. Also a great idea to use hung curd instead of mayo which I do not like. Would try

    1. Thanks Renu. Replacing mayo with hung curd is a healthy choice. Do give it a try.

  12. Wow Poonam, this macaroni salad looks very tempting, love to have it any time. Liked yogurt dressing with ACV and veggies added in it, yummy :)

  13. Macaroni salad looks so good and delicious. I am sure my kids will enjoy it. I am sure the hung curd would have given such a creamy texture to this dish.

    1. The hung curd makes the macaroni salad creamy rich.

  14. what a colourful, creamy salad, this has been Poonam! so good to dig into

  15. Macaroni salad here looks so creamy and delicious Poonam. The hung curd would have given such a creamy texture to this dish.

  16. This recipe looks exciting. i am so lad you have used the yogurt to add the creaminess to the dressing that the heavy addition of cream.

  17. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here keep up the good work.
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  18. You can serve a potato salad as a side dish with many different dishes. You can serve it with ribs, burgers, chicken salad, grilled chicken, baked chicken, sandwiches and many other main dishes. salad recipes with fruit