Sometimes you reeeally think you know a person, and then they move home after five years in the wilds of the west, and you discover that your youngest sister has a real affinity for pasta salad. You never stop learning, I guess.
I don’t think I’ve ever posted a recipe for pasta salad, unless you count the World Famous Sesame Noodles (I do not) and suddenly here is the second in as many months, if you count the couscous salad (I do.) October is kind of a weird time for pasta salad, they generally say “picnic or bust” to me, but Sister is home! She likes pasta salad! So pasta salad we will eat. This particular pasta salad is my version of one that is sold at a small lunch place in NH, near my new brother’s family. It might be perfect. It is mayo based, but isn’t goopy or heavy, and it has pickles in it, which are a welcome addition to most things. We had it for lunch one day up there, I decided to recreate it immediately, and I have made it several times since. Twice this weekend, as a matter of fact. I was feeding the motley crew that had gathered to help move Sister and her hubs in to their new house, and the first time I made it I didn’t cook the pasta quite enough, so I had to make it again. (The first batch eventually softened up, so I ate it all. Myself.) As it turns out, I didn’t take pictures of either batch this weekend, so I have to make it AGAIN for all of you. Good thing the sister lives close by so I can drop the bulk of this batch off at her house. If I don’t eat it all first.
You can save this for the summer, or you can throw caution to the wind and make it now. Pasta salad doesn’t just have to be for the warm weather. Pasta salad, all year round! Get wild, you funky little flowers, you.
Mac Salad (serves 8ish)
1 lb small pasta shape of your choice (small shells are good!)
3/4 cup diced cucumber
3/4 cup diced dill pickle
2/3 cup mayo
¼ cup dill pickle juice of your choice
2 tsp Cholula (or hot sauce of your choice)
2 cloves garlic, mashed fine with the edge of a heavy knife
One large shallot, minced fine (approximately 1/4 cup)
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta in salted water to al dente per package instructions.
While the pasta is cooking, mix the mayo, pickle juice, hot sauce, garlic (pro tip: use a pinch of the salt to help mash it to a fine paste) and shallot in a large bowl and stir to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. When the pasta is cooked, drain and rinse the pasta and add to the bowl with the pickle and cucumber. Toss the pasta and dressing together and then taste again for salt and pepper. Enjoy!