When I saw this recipe title my head tilted sideways and a big question mark floated skyward out of my ear. No, you don’t barbecue the salad. Who whooda thunk of putting barbecue sauce in a pasta salad, I ask you? The recipe came into my inbox from Cook’s Illustrated (I get an email epistle from them regularly) and this recipe was in the list, but credited to Cook’s Country, a magazine I don’t subscribe to. It sounded so incongruous I had to go investigate the recipe further.
Pasta is something we severely limit around here, and not because we don’t like it. But when I read this, it just sounded so different I had to try it. Right off the bat, I didn’t have scallions (used red onion instead) or red bell pepper (used some baby mild mini peppers instead), and I prowled my refrigerator for BBQ sauce and finally found something close (an Ancho Chile Spicy glaze). But hey, necessity is the mother of invention. I wanted to make this salad, and I used what I had on hand. Once prepared, I dipped my spoon into the bowl and was absolutely wow-ed by the taste. I l-o-v-e-d it. We had it with our dinner and for leftovers a day later. I made a half batch. After two dinners, I added more vegetables to the mixture and prepared a small amount of additional mayo and bbq sauce which the salad needed. The vinegar is an important aspect of this salad – when I added the veggies with the added mayo and BBQ sauce, at first I didn’t add the vinegar. The salad was flat. If you do add more veggies to it, you’ll need more dressing. Also another dash of hot sauce too. Next time I’ll try it with low-fat mayo. With all the flavor in the salad already, it may not need the boost of full-fat mayo.
The dressing is simple: mayo, barbecue sauce, cider vinegar, some spicy hot sauce (I used a Vietnamese one I keep on hand at all times), chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne (actually I omitted this because I used a spicy barbecue sauce) and black pepper (see photo with the pepper dotting the top). The dressing is poured on top of the pasta which is mixed with bell pepper, celery and the onions (scallions). It took about 15 minutes to make, not including the time to heat the pasta water. You could eat it immediately (although it would be warm or room temp), but they recommend letting it chill for 30 minutes or so, but it will keep for a couple of days. Perfecto for a summer barbecue dinner. You will be missing out if you don’t try this one. I’m so excited when somebody finds a way to make something ordinary into something fabulous. Why didn’t I think of that?
BBQ Macaroni (Pasta) Salad
Recipe: From Cook’s Country magazine
Cook’s Notes: use more veggies if you’d like. Tomatoes would be a nice addition too, particularly if they’re good, ripe ones. Also cucumber. Leftover chicken or turkey could also be added to be a nice main course. If you add more veggies, you’ll need more dressing.
1 pound elbow macaroni [I used pennette]
1 whole red bell pepper — seeded and chopped fine
1 rib celery — chopped fine [use 2-3x as much]
4 whole scallions — sliced thin [I used red onion]
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup Best Foods mayonnaise
1/2 cup barbecue sauce [I used a Honey-Roasted Ancho Chili BBQ Glaze]
Ground black pepper
1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and macaroni and cook until nearly tender, about 5 minutes. Drain in colander and rinse with cold water until cool, then drain once more, briefly, so that pasta is still moist; transfer to large bowl.
2. Stir in bell pepper, celery, scallions, vinegar, hot sauce, chili powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper, and let sit until flavors are absorbed, about 2 minutes. Stir in mayonnaise and barbecue sauce and let sit until salad is no longer watery, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve. (The salad can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Check seasonings before serving.)
Per Serving: 343 Calories; 20g Fat (50.3% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 37g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 8mg Cholesterol; 250mg Sodium.