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Beat the Wheat: Macaroni Salad

AKA The Pasta Salad of My People

Some of my most-fond memories are of the picnics my grandmother hosted for the whole family on Memorial Day and Labor Day. My cousins and I would play tag while my aunts set up tables laden with family favorites — sloppy joes, potato salad, barbecue chicken, coleslaw, corn on the cob, iced tea, fruit salad, brownies and — my favorite — macaroni salad.

As I grew older and “pasta salad” grew to mean more than the good old macaroni standards, I enjoyed the wide variety of alternatives my cousins would make. But there was something just so wonderful about the vinegary and sweet Pennsylvania Dutch macaroni salad of my childhood.

Not long ago, I was going through a box of books in my attic and found my grandmother’s recipe notebook — all her favorites penciled in cursive — and landed on the page that listed the “cooked mayonnaise dressing” for her macaroni and potato salads. I read down the list of ingredients and saw that it included flour. I had no idea!

I hadn’t really thought much about macaroni salad since my celiac diagnosis, but after finding Grandma’s recipe, it was all I wanted to make. Easy to adjust and a cinch to make gluten-free, this macaroni salad is going to make a comeback on my table once it’s time to eat outside again.

Gluten-Free Macaroni Salad

For the best results, stick with a corn pasta or one that’s made with a combination of gluten-free grains and starches.

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 10-12 servings
Level of Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients
3 cups (12 ounces) dried, gluten-free elbow macaroni
3/4 cup white distilled vinegar
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup white rice flour or potato flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/3 cup mustard
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 small bunch green onions, sliced thin
4 hard-boiled eggs
Dash smoked paprika

Directions
Cook macaroni according to package instructions.
While macaroni is cooking, bring the vinegar, sugar, flour and butter to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil for 2-3 minutes, until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat. Whisk in mayonnaise and mustard.
Drain macaroni when done cooking.
In a large bowl, combine macaroni, celery, carrots and green onions.
Pour mayonnaise mixture over macaroni mixture and stir to combine. It may be runny, but that’s OK.
Chop 3 of the hard-boiled eggs and mix into macaroni salad.
Slice remaining egg and use as garnish. Top with smoked paprika.
Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Note: You can make this up to 24 hours in advance. Leftovers will keep for 2-3 days.

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