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classic macaroni salad with grilled peppers

by Jackie Newgent  |  April 30, 2014  |  0 Comments

Classic Macaroni Salad with Grilled Peppers and Fresh Herbs

Makes 5 servings: 1 cup each

I was asked to create a healthy macaroni salad, but to keep it classic. Basically, no overly frilly, fussy, or fancy ingredients allowed. That actually is more challenging than it sounds. Macaroni salad is considered “classic” for a reason. And I won’t use “fake” fat-free ingredients to concoct my recipes. That said, I was successful at creating this better-for-you version! I kept great taste and tradition in mind. And though not extra fancy, I did make this macaroni salad extra special by adding grilled peppers and fresh herbs. Enjoy it at your next cookout or picnic. I know I will!

Calories saved: 170

Why it’s better for you: Pumped up the whole grains; more than doubled the fiber

8 ounces whole grain or multigrain elbow macaroni
1/3 cup organic or non-GMO mayonnaise
2 1/2 ounces quark or plain 2% Greek yogurt (1/4 rounded cup)
2 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons grained Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 medium stalks celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal (1 cup)
1 red bell pepper, cut into 4 or 5 large pieces, grilled or pan-grilled, finely diced
1 small jalapeño, grilled, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise, use part or all seeds
1/2 cup mixture of finely chopped fresh herbs, such as chives and flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup finely diced Vidalia or other sweet onion

  1. Cook the macaroni according to package directions; drain, toss with ice cubes in the pan until the macaroni is cool, then drain well. Chill.
  2. Meanwhile, stir together the mayonnaise, quark, vinegar, mustard, and salt until well combined. Add the chilled macaroni, celery, bell pepper, jalapeño, herbs, and onion and stir until just combined. Serve cool.

Per serving: 300 calories, 13g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 15mg cholesterol, 570mg sodium, 40g total carbohydrate, 5g dietary fiber, 2g sugars, 8g protein*

*Hint: If you want to pump up the protein, add some diced freshly-boiled egg.


The “Before” Recipe

classic macaroni salad

Per serving: 470 calories, 33g total fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 20mg cholesterol, 810mg sodium, 38g total carbohydrate, 2g dietary fiber, 4g sugars, 7g protein


Tasteover Tips

  • Go for whole grain pasta instead of a refined version when possible for wholesome appeal
  • Whip up a better-for-you, yet still very “real” mayo-based dressing by combining non-GMO mayo and quark or Greek yogurt—while heightening flavor with extra mustard (FYI: quark is a fresh European-style cheese curd, kind of like a super creamy cottage cheese)
  • Rely on sweetness naturally, such as by using sweet onion and sweet red bell pepper, instead of adding processed white sugar
  • Consider grilling vegetable additions, such as peppers, to create more flavor depth and provide unique smoky flair
  • For bonus zip, add jalapeno
  • For aromatic freshness, add herbs


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