Macaroni salad is gross. It is always weirdly sweet, the celery never has the intended effect, and it’s always served in pillowcase-sized quantities at summer barbecues. Not to mention that macaroni is distinctly the worst pasta shape to hold its structural integrity while bathing in a soupy, mayonnaise-y bath. If you’re going to make a pasta salad, the least you can do is put a denser, more shapely noodle in the recipe. (And also make the whole thing with olive oil because, come on, we’re adults here.)
Other Pasta Salad
It’s clearly better than macaroni because you can opt for a firmer noodle, but that doesn’t mean that it’s good. Honestly, pasta salad that is mayonnaise-based is just juvenile, and can’t hold a candle to its olivey, herby, tomato-y counterparts.
This is going to get me in a lot of trouble, because I know that a lot of people are intensely #TeamChickenSalad. But I’ll never understand why, and the reason is this: the reason that, for example, tuna salad is so delicious (aside from flavor), is because the shredded-ness of the meat lends itself well to being a spread consistency (sort of like a pulled-pork texture, but not smothered in barbecue sauce. Chicken is usually cut into chunks for salad, which is just unpleasant, and not well-suited to sandwich form. (Also I am a firm believer that white meat is the ideal meat for salads, and yet people are always out here flagrantly using dark.) Sue me, but I’m not a fan of chicken salad.
Potato salad is, undeniably, pasta salad’s sexier cousin. Potatoes just melt so seamlessly into their mustard-y, mayonnaise-y cradle, and with the right seasonings and add-ons, there is nothing more pleasant. It’s the perfect antidote to a big plate of ribs, and it never feels as heavy as it obviously is. A fluffy potato can be mayonnaise’s best friend.
Some people are disgusted by egg salad, and those people are wrong. Its sulfury goodness is half the appeal. Egg salad is wonderful, and it is one of the few foods that can claim the privilege of being both the filling of a sandwich and its own condiment. All that bad boy needs is some lettuce and it is the perfect sammie. What other filling can say that? Your fave could never.
The crown jewel of all mayonnaise-based salads, tuna salad stands above the rest, whether made with celery, onions, shredded carrots, grapes/apples, or all of the above. The salty, fishy goodness – with ample salt and pepper, of course – cut through mayonnaise in a way no other food can, and form the perfect sandwich with a little lettuce and tomato (or melted cheese, of course, if you’re throwing caution to the wind). Tuna salad is probably in the top-10 underrated sandwiches of all time, and never gets the menu presence it deserves, which is a mystery to me. Because there is no more perfect a comfort food to put on two slices of bread, except maybe a BLT. But even then, I don’t know that it could take tuna. Probably not.