Macaroni Salad

Some dishes become staples in the family and are prepared for years without a true “recipe” being written.  Then something throws a monkey wrench into the situation, and your standard fare has to be rearranged ~ or something substituted.

That happened with this recipe last year.  A friend came to visit and we went to the very large local health food store together.  She was nearly vegan, but my family is totally vegan.  I reached for a roll of Worthington’s Chickette Roll that I had used for years in this salad and other things.  She informed me that the recipe had been changed a year or two before and it was no longer vegan!!  *GASP!*  Say it isn’t so!!  *groan*  Back to the drawing board to find a “chicken” replacement.  (When will I remember to frequently re-read nutritional labels?  And why do companies “fix” something that wasn’t broken?)

The newest challenge for my family is to find a pasta that is gluten-free that we like.  I used a corn-quinoa type the time before last and it was good.  I couldn’t leave well enough alone, so we had a brown rice one the last time…not so good.  It was a little slimey feeling.  I didn’t mind it, but the family gave it a thumbs-down.  So, I went back to the corn-quinoa, this time in elbows.  I read the package again and noticed it said not to overcook the pasta ~ in big bold letters.  So I was scrupulously careful.  I didn’t want mush.  Oh…we didn’t get mush.  No, no.  We got just short of crispy!!  Somehow, between testing it while it was cooking in the pot and rinsing it in cold water, the pasta went from al dente to ewwwww.

My husband, who loves this dish and would eat it several times a week, decided it was worth it to eat it.  Some of the others decided to forego the “pleasure.”  I ate some, but I had a terrible stomach ache several hours later.  Moral of the story?  Don’t believe everything you read…even on food packages.  Cook your pasta well enough.

Macaroni Salad

  • 1 lb. pasta (elbows, shells, or rotini twists work well), may be gluten-free
  • 3-4 medium tomatoes, diced*
  • 1 large cucumber, quartered and sliced*
  • 1 can black olives, sliced or quartered
  • 1/4-1/2 c. minced onion
  • “chicken” style veggie meat substitute (I use this.)
  • Veganaise, to taste
  • salt to taste

Please note – pasta doesn’t seem to come in 1 lb. boxes any more.  If you buy 2 boxes and fill the 13+ oz. one to near the top, it approximates 1 lb.

Cook pasta according to package directions, or until softer than al dente.  Rinse under cold water and drain.

Place the vegetables in a very large bowl.  Salt them and toss together.  Add the drained pasta and veggie meat.  Mix in Veganaise to taste.

Chill and serve.

*Feel free to use more ~ I often do.

Soy Curl Sandwich Filling

Life has been kind of nuts lately.  (I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that my attention has been more about a brand new granddaughter ~ and shopping for cute baby things ~ than this blog.)  When that happens, I need food that everybody thinks is special, but that takes very little hands-on time for me to prepare.  Since to most of my family sandwiches aren’t supper food, it takes a nice filling of some type to convince them that they can be!  (And now that I’ve found an acceptable form of gluten-free bread, each of my crew can have them again.)

This is based on a Step-Fast recipe, but it has been drastically altered.  In the original, the soy curls are soaked in salted water (enough to cover) for an hour and then squeezed out.  Then they are tossed with chicken-style seasoning and other items such a vegan mayo.  They were rather bland on the inside of the curls, though.  I find it works much better to use only the amount of water you absolutely need and that the water should be seasoned so that as the curls hydrate, they become flavorful in their own right.  Then whatever you dress them with only adds to the flavor, rather than being the only flavor.

Soy Curl Sandwich Filling

Heat water, Bragg’s, and chicken-style seasoning in a large frying pan.  Break up the soy curls a bit if there are any really long pieces.  Add the soy curls, tossing well and often to rehydrate.  Test a curl for tenderness.  If not soft enough, add a little more water at a time until you get the best texture.  You do not want excess liquid, or your sandwich filling will be soggy, but neither do you want tough soy curls.  If there is a question, I would opt for slightly chewier curls and allow the Veganaise to help with the softening during the refrigerator time.  You can also squeeze out any excess liquid if a serious goof occurs.

Place curls in a bowl and chill in the refrigerator.  [If you are in a dreadful hurry to get supper on the table, get out a cookie sheet, and spread the hot curls on it and place in the refrigerator (or freezer, if you have the extra space, but check them often ~ the first time in about 15 minutes) until chilled.]

In a large bowl, mix the soy curls with the onion, relish, and Veganaise.  If possible, chill for an hour or more to meld the flavors.  Serve on bread or rolls as sandwiches with lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado, or on a bed of lettuce and cold rice as a “chicken” salad style dish.

Serves 6-8.