If you’re a fan of pasta salads, then you’re likely to love this recipe for creamy macaroni salad made with ditalini pasta, broccoli, bell pepper, cucumber, olives, and red onions. This pasta salad is perfect for any occasion, whether it’s a weeknight dinner, a family barbecue, or a summer picnic with friends.
Creamy Macaroni Salad
With its blend of textures and colors, this vegetable-filled macaroni salad is not only delicious but also visually appealing, making it a feast for both your eyes and your taste buds. This works well as a main dish or a side dish.
You can use any variety of pasta that you like when making a macaroni salad. It doesn’t need to be basic elbow noodles to be a macaroni salad.
Ditalini pasta is my favorite for this recipe. Ditalini is Italian for “small thimbles”, and is also referred to as tubettini. This is a very short tube-like macaroni. Because the pasta and the vegetables are of a similar size, every bite delivers so many different flavors.
The traditional pasta-to-vegetable ratio for creamy macaroni salad is about two cups of additional ingredients for half a pound of pasta. I like to really kick that up with as many vegetables as possible.
Onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, celery, peas, pickles, pretty much anything will work in pasta salad. This is a great way to clean out the fridge. Use up those bits and pieces of leftover vegetables from other recipes.
The vegetables do not need to be raw. As long as the vegetables still have a bit of crunch, try adding them to a pasta salad. You might be surprised at some of the great combinations you can come up with next time.
How to Make Creamy Macaroni Salad
There’s a balance to a great creamy macaroni salad. There needs to be enough dressing to coat everything nicely, without drowning it and weighing everything down.
The tang of mayonnaise with a splash of vinegary provides brightness to the dressing. If you don’t happen to have white wine vinegar on hand, feel free to use plain white vinegar, or a squeeze of fresh lemon instead.
Here’s a tip to avoid extra dishes and make the whole process easier. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Then add the pasta and vegetables and stir to coat everything well.
You can serve the pasta salad immediately or refrigerate it for a few hours allowing the vegetables and pasta to soak up the dressing. Give it a quick stir before serving and you’ll be good to go.
Creamy Macaroni Salad Recipe
To make this recipe you will need the following ingredients:
- ditalini pasta or salad macaroni
- broccoli florets
- red pepper
- black olives
- red onion
- plain or white wine vinegar
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
From tangy to creamy, pasta and vegetable salads are the epitome of summertime picnics. We enjoy these recipes year around either as a dinner side dish or for a light meal on their own.
Tangy Vegetable Pasta Salad made with fresh vegetables from the garden, farmers’ market or grocery store is light and refreshing any time of the year.
Flaky tuna, crunchy bits of red onion, and bell peppers tossed with freshly cooked pasta in a creamy, tangy dressing make for a colorful Tuna Pasta Salad.
Creamy with a bit of tang, this German Cucumber Salad brings back happy memories. Nothing says summer Sunday dinner at grandma’s house quite like this old-fashioned salad.
With a perfect blend of tender pasta, creamy dressing, and a medley of fresh vegetables, this Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad is bursting with flavor.
Dill Pickle Potato Salad boasts plenty of tart pickles mixed with a creamy dressing to make this absolutely unforgettable.
Tangy, garlicky vinaigrette dressing brings a zesty kick to this spinach tomato pasta salad. It’s a terrific meal on its own and it also makes a great side dish with grilled chicken or salmon.
Tender pasta, fresh corn, and red onions are tossed with a creamy, spicy sauce of mayonnaise, lime, cilantro, and cotija cheese to create this Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad.
Looking for a lighter side dish? Try this summertime cauliflower salad.
Sweet peas, salty bacon, and sharp cheddar cheese coated in a creamy, tangy dressing add up to an easy, tasty summer side dish. This bacon pea salad is a timeless favorite that is a great addition to any meal.
Creamy Macaroni Salad
- 8 ounces salad macaroni or ditalini pasta
- 1½ cup tiny broccoli florets
- 1½ cup finely diced red pepper
- 1 cup diced cucumber
- ½ cup sliced black olives
- ¼ cup very thinly sliced red onion
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons plain or white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt adjust to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, adding a generous tablespoon or so of kosher salt to the water as it cooks. Just before the noodles are done cooking, add the broccoli to the pot. Let the broccoli boil for about 30 seconds and then drain everything into a large colander. Rinse well with cold water.
- Stir together the mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked pasta and broccoli to the bowl and stir well to coat. Add the cucumber, pepper, olives, and onions and stir again.
- Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Stir again just before serving.