Macaroni Dinner Salad

Light enough for a hot summer night, but more filling than plain salad. This is a cross between a garden salad and macaroni salad, pretty much the best of both worlds. If you’re the kind of person who could make a meal of just macaroni salad — and I know I can’t be the only one — this will make it more acceptable to your spouse.


1 pound macaroni
1/2 head iceberg lettuce
— or —
1-2 bunches Romaine lettuce
1 pound bacon
2 hard boiled eggs
1/2 large onion
1 green bell pepper
tomatoes (number depends on size)
chick peas / garbanzo beans (optional)
2 cups mayonnaise


1-1/2 cups olive pomace oil
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons mustard powder


All the cooking here can be done in advance, and one thing at a time, so you don’t get the kitchen all heated up in the late afternoon. Or you can do like me and have two or three pans going on the stove at the same time. I haven’t decided if that represents good organizational skills or bad.

Start by cooking the macaroni. No, I didn’t take pictures of that, they’ve got directions printed right on the box. Follow them. And don’t try this with fresh pasta. You want something kind of sturdy, and fresh pasta is usually much more tender. When it’s al dente, drain and rinse it in cold water. Toss with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to keep it from sticking. (See note below after the bacon.)

While the macaroni is going, dice up all the bacon into bite-sized pieces before cooking. This is easier to do if the bacon is frozen, or nearly frozen. And it’s a lot easier and cleaner than crumbling it up after it’s cooked. Best of all, it’s way easier to cook everything to the same level of done-ness.

Frugal tip: Buy the bacon ends whenever you see them at the butcher. They’ll usually be more than a dollar a pound cheaper, and they typically have more meat and less fat than the rest anyway.

Go with non-stick or cast iron when you dice the bacon like this, or you’ll break everything up into tiny little crumbs trying to turn it over. And use a splatter guard. If you like to brag, you can spend $50 on one. Wow. I think mine was four or five bucks at the Drug Mart.

Remove the finished bacon to a plate covered with a couple of paper towels, then filter and store the rendered fat. You’ll want it next week when you do the green beans.

If your bacon and macaroni are done at about the same time, add a couple of tablespoons of the bacon fat to the macaroni and stir it in. This will keep the noodles from sticking to each other.

Now dice the green pepper and … hold on.

I said up above that this called for a whole green pepper, why am I only using a half? Because using up leftovers is more important than following a recipe exactly. Unless you’re baking, that is. With baking you follow recipes exactly.

So anyway … dice the pepper and onion.

And chop the lettuce.

If you’ve got a really sharp eye, you’ll see a head of iceberg with the ingredients, but that’s Romaine in that picture. I was in the middle of making this when I realized I still had some Romaine left from the night before. Anyone who has ever worked at a restaurant will tell you that you always use the oldest food first.

Add the macaroni and mayonnaise to the lettuce and toss it together.

Then add the bacon, onion and green pepper and toss.

Dice the hard-boiled eggs for a topping and serve.

I like to add more egg to each serving after I’ve plated it, and add the tomatoes last.

Optionally add some chick peas / garbanzo beans.

And that’s it.

Make sure to check back tomorrow as I’ll be showing the richest, most decadent pie in the world. Well, okay, it’s not covered in gold leaf. Is dark, bittersweet chocolate close enough? It is for me.

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