Thanks to olive oil mayo and protein-packed multigrain pasta, mac is back. Cool, creamy, colorful and divine, we’ve mixed up a healthy macaroni salad with crisp, fresh, yellow corn and roasted red peppers for a hint of sweetness. Keeping it simple with a splash of red wine vinegar, crunchy bits of celery and red onion, we invite you to add a few baubles of your own: silky cubes of fresh mozzarella, sliced proscuitto, crunchy cukes or toasted pine nuts. Fresh herbs should be added just before serving.
The recipe feeds a crowd, but you can easily halve for exquisite brown bags on the go, or a light, cool do-ahead picnic for the fam.
Lip-Smackeroni Salad with Scalded Fresh Corn and Roasted Red Peppers
Serves a crowd
1 (14-ounce) box multigrain elbow pasta
2 ears fresh yellow corn, kernels removed
Coarse salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
3/4 cup olive oil mayonnaise, or more to taste
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or more to taste
Dash of hot sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 ribs celery hearts, finely diced, about 3/4 cup
1/4 small red onion, finely diced
3 jarred, fire-roasted red bell peppers, chopped, plus 1 tablespoon of pepper’s liquid
Torn fresh basil leaves, to garnish
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse under cold running water.
As the pasta cooks, heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat. When the pan is hot, coat with cooking spray and scald the corn, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and reserve, allowing to cool.
In a large salad bowl, whisk together the mayo, vinegar, hot sauce and oregano. Stir in celery, onion, roasted peppers and their liquid. Add cooled corn and macaroni, stirring well to combine. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving; can be prepared the day before. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary (we usually add an extra splash of vinegar or hot sauce to enliven flavors). Garnish with fresh basil before serving.
Since everyone knows that diets don’t work, we all need a good-girl, go-to snack. During the warm summer months, we never tire of this crisp, tangy combo: thinly sliced Roma tomatoes and cucumbers, with a splash of red wine vinegar, pinch of dried oregano or dill, coarse salt and cracked black pepper. Freshly tossed or ferreted from the fridge, I nibble my way to skinny as I chop veggies for dinner—or grab as a late night, low-cal bite. Also great atop whole-grain crostini, with perhaps a slice or 2 of gooey, melted cheese. Viva las veggies!