There are recipes that you make once in awhile. Then there are recipes you make because you're inspired by a magazine or a blog. And then there are recipes that you developed through trial and error that you eat at least once a week. This is one of those — one of the good ones.
I generally look right on past recipes for macaroni salad because they usually rely on huge spoonfuls of mayonnaise or another creamy dressing. They also rarely have any substantial serving of vegetables or herbs and instead favor celery or peas or the occasional carrot. So while I think there's absolutely a time and a place for more traditional macaroni salads, I've been making a much lighter version in the kitchen lately. Instead of mayonniase, I use a really good olive oil and a little sea salt and pepper.
With farmers market tomatoes and basil along with a nice salty feta and your favorite olives, it's one macaroni salad you'll start relying on for stay-at-home lunches or quick weeknight dinners. In fact, maybe it'll come to replace the more ubiquitous creamy version that so many people whip up during the summer months. For a heartier main dish, I'll often throw in baked tofu or chickpeas.
Italian Macaroni Salad
serves 4 to 6
2 cups little elbow macaroni 3/4 cups heirloom or plum tomatoes, diced (about 2 large tomatoes) 1/4 cup basil, julienned 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese small handful of your favorite seedless olives, halved 1/4 cup good-quality olive oil Salt and pepper, to taste
Cook, rinse, and drain pasta. Be sure your macaroni noodles have cooled completely before setting out to make the salad. When the noodles are completely cool, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.
Pour olive oil over the salad and stir to combine. Season with freshly ground pepper and kosher salt to taste. Serve. Refrigerate and cover any leftovers, and continue to enjoy for up to 3 days.