Salmon Macaroni Salad

I distinctly remember the tall cans of dark pink salmon that used to be in our pantry when I was a kid. Although we could any time open a can of tuna or sardines and eat to our hearts content without permission, the canned salmon was off limits. Although the excuse my dad gave was, “it’s special” (followed by “keep your hands off”), I think the real reason was that he loved the stuff and always wanted to make sure there was a can or two in the pantry when he wanted it. Nothing lasted that long in the pantry of a family with six kids.

One of my favorite things to do with canned salmon is to make a simple salmon macaroni salad with it, a riff off our family favorite tuna macaroni salad. You can choose to add sliced lettuce (iceberg works best) to the salad, but it works best as is, without lettuce, if you are planning to bring it to a picnic or have it last for leftovers.

Tip: add the macaroni to the salmon mayo mixture when it is still warm. That way it will absorb the flavors better.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound (about 2 cups) macaroni pasta
  • Salt
  • 2 (7-ounce) cans salmon
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (plus more to taste or for added smoothness)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup chopped shallots, red onions, or green onions (with onion greens)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill (or 1/2 teaspoon dried dill)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • Tabasco to taste (we used about 10 drops)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method

1 Bring a pot of water (2 quarts) to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons salt. Add the dry macaroni pasta and cook, uncovered, in a rolling boil for about 10 minutes, or until the macaroni is al dente (slightly firm). Remove from heat, drain, rinse briefly in cold water (macaroni should be still warm after rinsing) and drain again.

2 In a large bowl mix the salmon, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Mix in the shallots, parsley, dill, and celery.

3 Mix in the cooked macaroni while it is still warm. Add Tabasco and freshly ground pepper to taste. As the macaroni absorbs the mayonnaise, you may need to add some water to the salad to keep it from being dry. Adjust seasonings.

Chill before serving.

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