The traditional creamy elbow macaroni salad is an easy target for a makeover. The trick is to redo the recipe without losing its American character.
I've chosen ingredients that are common. Broccoli adds crunch and color. Corn brings sweetness. Red onion and sweet bell pepper lend bursts of flavor. Ditalini is my pasta of choice because it stays nice and firm even after being properly cooked. The salad is finished with a light dressing and plenty of chopped chives and parsley.
Make Ahead: The salad, with the exception of the broccoli, can easily be prepped a day in advance. Wait to add the steamed broccoli pieces to the salad. (The vinegar in the dressing will cause the broccoli to discolor if you mix the salad and let it sit overnight.) For optimal taste, bring the salad to room temperature before serving.
Servings: 10 - 12
- Kosher salt
- 8 ounces dried ditalini pasta
- 8 ounces trimmed broccoli crowns
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups cooked corn kernels (from about 3 ears of corn)
- 3/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 3/4 cup seeded, finely diced red or orange sweet bell pepper
Bring a pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add a pinch of salt and the pasta. Cook according to the package directions. Drain, then rinse under cool water until the pasta is no longer warm.
Meanwhile, fill a bowl with cool water and ice cubes. Set up a steamer basket in a pot over barely bubbling water (medium heat).
Cut each broccoli crown into 4 or 5 pieces. Place them in the steamer, cover and cook for 3 minutes. Immediately transfer the broccoli to the ice-water bath; let it sit for 5 minutes. Drain, and cut the broccoli into 1/2-inch pieces.
Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, chives, parsley and sugar in a liquid measuring cup. Season with salt and pepper to taste. While whisking, slowly pour in the oil to form an emulsified dressing. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Combine the ditalini, broccoli, corn, onion and bell pepper in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss to coat evenly. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving. Toss one last time and serve.
From columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
Tested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
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