Food You Can Eat: Macaroni Salad

First things first:  I had a bunch of leftover celery from making the Thanksgiving stuffing.  Being the Cheap BastardTM that I am, I decided to make this recipe, although it is typically a spring/summer dish.  All I had to buy was the mayo and tuna, because we were out.  This is how I meal plan.  Look upon my works and despair.

A caveat before we get started:  This is Mrs. Butcher’s recipe, which means there are no measurements.  Mrs. Butcher is much more intuitive with scents and flavors than I am, so it’s taken me the better part of 20 years to approximate what she does so effortlessly.  This recipe isn’t particularly complex, so there wasn’t a need for lots of pictures—but getting the right flavor profile is deceptively difficult. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 Onion, diced

Carrots and Celery, in equal parts, diced

1 Lb. Short Pasta (I used elbow macaroni for this because—you guessed it—I had opened the box before and needed a way to use the rest of it.)

2 Cans Tuna in water (NOT oil), drained


Apple Cider Vinegar



Cook your pasta until al dente and drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.  Pro Tip:  you don’t actually have to keep the burner turned on once your water comes to a boil and you put the pasta in the pot.  Just cover the pot and turn off the heat, while stirring every few minutes.  It will still take about the same amount of time to cook as if you’d left the heat on (10 minutes), but you won’t have wasted all that electricity/gas in the meantime

While the pasta is cooking, prep your veggies.  For this recipe I used five carrots and five celery, but that’s just how I like it.  Use as much or as little as you like, but be sure to use equal parts of each.  Likewise, use whatever type of onion you like, just not too large or it will overpower everything else.

8″ Chef Knife for Perspective

Pour your drained pasta into a large bowl, or back into the pot you used to cook it, then add the veggies, drained tuna, a glob of mayo, roughly a 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper.  Then stir it all around, making sure to break up the tuna and the pieces of onion which tend to stick together so stubbornly. 

Italians call all pasta “macaroni”, but this is the only macaroni I recognize.

Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.  Serve in a bowl with a splash of apple cider vinegar.

Serve either as a main salad (typically for lunch), or as a side with a hamburger or grilled sausage.

About butcherbakertoiletrymaker 580 Articles
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  1. Yum. Looks delish. I’ll be right over. I much prefer Mrs. Butcher’s style of cooking. It rocked my world when I had to move from “I just know what goes in it” to “heart healthy cookbooks, measure that stuff and follow a recipe” cooking. Luckily, I can be trained…

  2. I love mac salad!  In Hawaii it is served in every “plate lunch” which is typical fast food in Hawaii.  You get 2 scoops of rice and 1 scoop of mac salad and your entrée.  It usually doesn’t have onion or celery and sometimes no tuna but the rest is the same.  It really makes a great compliment for things you wouldn’t expect like chili or curry.  I look forward to helping you defend against the mayo haters on this site…I’m Team Butcher!

  3. Macaroni salad is the perfect bring-along to any summery gathering, especially cookouts/BBQs. But really any occasion will do. A Confirmation party. High school graduation. 50th wedding anniversary. I’ve been to pot-luck weddings (those are the most fun, reception-wise) and various macaroni salads abound. It travels with us through life. Well, some of us, I guess. I feel it is best appreciated on a sunny day en plain air (outside) at a gathering where you know some people but not everyone, and there are children and at least one dog roaming around. 

  4. I have a love/hate relationship with canned tuna. I never put it in macaroni salad. If I manage to get to Trader Joe’s ( it’s the only canned tuna I’ll eat) I can try it.

    • There’s a German version of this which, like German potato salad, involves neither tuna (It wouldn’t anyway) nor mayonnaise, but more vinegar, cucumber, and a little mustard. It’s an acquired taste but I make it sometimes. I don’t why the Germans generally eschew mayonnaise (the continental stuff is the superior aioli cousin) when their Dutch, Belgian, and French neighbors love it so much. 

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