macaroni and cheese (Kraft Dinner) to make a tasty, nicely zippy, and really kinda orange, pasta salad.
It really is one of my favorite pasta salads and, you don’t really have to tell folk what’s in it, after all.
•1 box Kraft dinner (we like the creamy)
•1/4 cup butter
•1/3 cup Catalina dressing
•1 tbsp Honey Mustard Salad Dressing
•Milk to measure 1/2 cup
•3/4 cup diced red onion
•3/4 cup chopped celery
•1/4 cup sliced blanched asparagus
•1/4 cup diced peperoncini
•1/4 cup diced Kalamata olives
•1/2 tsp Salad Elegant*
Stir in Later:
•2 tbsp Catalina dressing
•1/4 cup Honey Mustard dressing
*Salad Elegant is a tasty blend of cheese and seasonings made by the very nice folk at Penzey’s Spices and is available at their stores or on line.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, stir in a tablespoon or so of salt, then stir i the macaroni and cook for 9-1/2 minutes.
Yes, I know the box says 7-1/2 minutes, I happen to like mine a bit softer.
Drain the pasta and rinse well (you want to rinse pasta if you’re using it for salad), then return to the pan with the butter.
Add the tablespoon of Honey Mustard to a measuring cup, then add milk to make 1/2 cup. Stir until well blended.
Add the milk to the macaroni and butter in the pan, then stir in the cheese packet until you have yourself a nice pot o’ mac and cheese.
Now, stir in the 1/3 cup of Catalina dressing, cover the pot, and set it aside to cool.
While the mac and cheese is cooling, you can prep your veggies.
I had some asparagus leftover from a salad, so added that to diced red onion, celery, and then chopped Kalamata olives and peperoncini.
Note: you wanna make an already very nice pasta salad even nicer? Replace the plain mayonnaise with my Cuban-inspired Medianoche Mayonnaise – made by stirring 1/4 cup of Italian dressing into one cup of mayonnaise, along with a bit of hot sauce, to taste. Nice!
OK, mac and cheese cooled and veggies chopped, stir the mayonnaise (or Medianoche mayo, if you’re going that route) into the mac and cheese, along with some fresh ground black pepper.
Transfer the mac and cheese to a container, and consider it for a minute.
Looks kinda soupy, dosn’t it? Almost as though we’ve add too much stuff to the salad, right?
Nope! This is exactly how it should look at this point. The macaroni is gonna soak up all that extra liquid (and flavor) while resting, covered, in the fridge for a couple of hours or (you know what’s coming) always more better – overnight.
Consider that same container of almost Jardiniére Salad just a couple of hours later.
Now, we’re ready to stir in the veggies and Salad Elegant, or, whichever other seasonings you prefer. Paprika could be nice as well as poppy and/or celery seeds.
Toss the veggies and seasonings together with the mac and cheese until nicely mixed, then give the salad a taste.
Good, but, it needed something…
Another two tablespoons of Catalina and another 1/4 cup of Honey Mustard stirred into the mix was just the ticket.
Cover and stash in the fridge until ready to serve, mebbe with some freshly chopped parsley on top.