Featured Flavors: Taking your mac salad from meh to mighty

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Taking your mac salad from meh to mighty

By MATI BISHOP

Every Summer I get an invitation from someone who is going over the top with their barbecue and wants me to bring a side dish to accompany their awesome spread. I want to bring something good, but donít want to feel like I am trying to upstage my host. That is when I turn to one of my favorite dishes, macaroni salad. Here are a couple tricks that I use to make my mac salads memorable.

After boiling the noodles for your mac salad, toss them in a bit of apple cider vinegar and sugar while they are still hot. About a table spoon of vinegar and teaspoon of sugar per half pound of cooked noodles. This is a trick that I learned living in Hawaii, where mac salad is worshipped to the point of having its own food group. The sugar gives an obvious sweetness to the dish and the vinegar helps to break down the noodles so they mesh with the mayonnaise into a sticky, gooey delicious dish.

Mac salad that has no texture at all is sure to be soon forgotten. Often times I see shredded carrots added to give a minor crunch element, although carrots donít do nearly as well as a small amount of finely diced jicama. What is jicama, you ask? Itís a root vegetable similar to a turnip but with a slightly sweet mild flavor. It holds its crunch well even diced into tiny pieces and provides little tiny crunch bombs of moisture within your mac salad when you take a bite. It makes a huge difference and if you donít tell people about it, they might not even consciously realize it is there.

Use real mayonnaise and make sure it is the good stuff! Mayo is literally what holds a good mac salad together and you need to have a good one or you are going to be taking home a bunch of leftovers. I prefer Hellmannís. Best Foods will do in a pinch. I also have been known to add just a bit, seriously just a little bit, of cheap yellow mustard to my mac to give a touch of a tang to offset the sweet. Donít get fancy and try to use good mustard here. I have made that mistake and cheap yellow mustard is by far your best bet.

There will always be times when you take a tub of store bought mac salad to a party and people will always eat some because mac salad is awesome. When you really want to show respect for the invitation without upstaging your host, put together a really good mac salad. Happy eating.

Mati Bishop is owner of Aunt Tís Coffee Corner in Libby.

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