The key to the best creamy pasta salad is to rinse the cooked pasta under cold water before tossing with the dressing. Skipping this step means the dressing will turn sticky. We also “de-flame” the onion, which tames raw onion flavor so that the onion does not take over the salad. A quick bath in cold water does the trick.
8 ounces dry elbow macaroni or small pasta shape
1/4 medium red onion, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 medium bell pepper, seeds removed and chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
3 radishes, trimmed and finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1 medium dill pickle, finely chopped, optional
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise, try our homemade mayonnaise recipe
1 1/2 tablespoons yellow mustard, substitute Dijon or whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons honey, optional for sweet version
Cook pasta according to the package directions, drain and then rinse well under cold water.
Meanwhile, add the chopped onions to a small bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside for 5 minutes and then drain. This “de-flames” the onion ensuring that it won’t taste too strong in the salad.
In the bottom of a large salad bowl, make the dressing. Whisk the sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. For a sweeter macaroni salad, add honey to taste.
To the bowl with dressing, add the rinsed macaroni, drained onions, bell pepper, celery, radish, and the pickle. Mix well. Taste then adjust with additional salt and pepper.