Chicken macaroni salad was one of my favorite party side dishes as a child. Back in Manila, it was dotted with raisins, which I’ve grown to dislike through the years. I’ve come to embrace it’s blushing cousin, the dried cranberries, which I simply adore in salads and use as often as I can. I love it with the tuna mac because it adds a touch of sweetness and tartness that complements the tuna and pineapple well.
Tuna is my preferred alternative to chicken in salads for convenience–just drain and voila, you’ll have flavorful protein to add. And thanks to that, you can make this salad in 15 minutes or less, not including the time to wait for the water to boil. To save time, I put the pot of water on maximum heat while I start chopping vegetables to make good on time.
This is a substantial lunch or a good snack to pack for work, but watch out for the tuna smell. The chicken would be less offensive to the olfactory senses for some, for sure. It keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days if you keep it in the coolest corner, so it’s a good make-ahead dish as well.
I’m making slow and steady progress on the eating-healthier-lunch front, and even smaller steps on blog posting, but I’m getting there. I’m almost ready to make this again for lunch, actually.
I’ve included meat and vegan alternatives in the recipe. Hope you enjoy!
- 2 cups (8 ounces) elbow macaroni, uncooked
- salt for boiling pasta and to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 120-gram can tuna, drained of water or oil
- ¼ cup and 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1½ tablespoon sugar
- freshly ground pepper
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries (optional)
- Cook elbow macaroni in salty water according to the package directions for al dente pasta and drain. Transfer pasta into a large bowl and add all the ingredients except for the cranberries. Add salt and pepper as desired. Add cranberries last.