Szechaun Macaroni Salad with Ginger Dressing

The second of our three traditional salads with a twist is an Asian-inspired macaroni salad. Similar to coleslaw, macaroni salad can get really ho hum. But not if you spice it up with an infusion of totally different flavors. This zesty macaroni salad is now my stand-by recipe. It’s terrific with burgers, or with grilled steak, chicken kabobs or grilled fish.

A pasta salad tip: The key to a really creamy, flavorful macaroni salad is to toss it with the dressing just before it’s served. Pasta continues to absorb liquid as it sits. Pasta salads of all types soak up dressing and can get rather dry, even after just an hour in the fridge or on a buffet table. The same applies to rice salads. So, if you take Szechaun Macaroni Salad to a party, keep the dressing separate and toss it right before serving. The peanuts too, should be added just before serving so they stay crunchy. See Kitchen Notes for another tip.

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Szechaun Macaroni Salad with Creamy Ginger Dressing

Prep Time: 30 minutes      Makes 6-8 servings

8 ounces dry elbow macaroni
20 snow peas
1 medium cucumber, seeded and sliced
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup matchstick carrots
1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts
  Creamy Ginger Dressing
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Nakano seasoned rice vinegar, roasted garlic or red pepper
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Cook macaroni as package directs. Rinse very well with cold water; drain. Place in a large bowl with snow peas, cucumber, green onion and carrots.

Whisk mayonnaise in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Gradually stir in seasoned rice vinegar. Stir in remaining dressing ingredients.

Just before serving, sprinkle peanuts over macaroni and stir in dressing.

An original recipe by Rita Held

Kitchen Notes:

  • Elbow macaroni can be cooked ahead of time, rinsed well, and stored in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Make sure the container is air tight.
  • The amount of vegetables in this salad is somewhat flexible. If you don’t want snow peas, use more cucumber. And if you’re not a fan of cilantro, leave it out.
  • Fresh ginger: Buy a firm piece with tight skin. Peel off the skin from the part you are going to chop. Wrap the remainder in a damp paper towel and place it in your refrigerator’s vegetable bin; it should last for weeks. If you would like to know what I do with extra ginger and garlic, leave a comment and I’ll explain.
  • If the macaroni salad seems to be getting dry, splash it with a bit more seasoned rice vinegar!

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