Easy Persian Macaroni Salad

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If you’re from an Iranian family, you know this Persian style Macaroni Salad very well. Your family might make a varied version of it, but it’s a common dish to all the Persian households I know. The yummy elbow pasta, mortadella, pickles, and vegetables tossed in a creamy mayo dressing are the perfect combo.


Persian style macaroni salad served in white serving bowl placed on a white serving platter


 

I love a good pasta salad and this one is packed with memories as much as it is with flavor. This dish, though not actually Persian flavors, is very well-known to Persian families. It’s quick, easy, inexpensive, and great for crowds. Make sure to check out my other pasta salad recipes including tortellini pasta salad, shrimp pasta salad and my fresh and bright Greek pasta salad.

Recipe Highlights: Easy Persian Macaroni Salad

Cultural Influence: Persian family favorite

Primary Cooking Technique: Boil and Mix

Suitable for: Parties and large gatherings

Dominant Flavor Profile: Creamy and tangy

Skill Level Required: Beginner-friendly

Why You’ll Love This Recipe: Comes together quickly after you’ve boiled the pasta. It’s also a one-bowl meal meaning easy clean-up. In addition to that, it’s family-friendly and feeds large crowds easily.


Key Ingredients

ingredients for Persian macaroni salad including elbow pasta, green beans, corn, yellow bell pepper, pickles, mortadella, and mayonnaise
  • Macaroni: The pasta base provides a chewy texture that absorbs the flavors of the dressing and other ingredients. Cook it in salty water, then toss with olive oil to prevent sticking.
  • Mayonnaise: This adds a creamy and rich texture, binding the salad together. For a lighter version, consider using half mayo and half Greek yogurt or sour cream.
  • Yellow Bell Pepper: Adding a sweet crunch and vibrant color, bell peppers enhance the visual appeal and texture. You can use red or orange bell pepper based on preference or availability.
  • Chopped Mortadella: This ingredient brings a savory, meaty flavor with a smooth texture. While Persian mortadella is recommended, any good quality mortadella will work just as well.
  • Chopped Pickles: They provide a tangy crunch that balances the creaminess of the mayo. Finely chop the pickles to ensure they’re evenly distributed throughout the salad.
  • Corn: Adding a burst of sweetness and a slight crunch, corn enhances the overall flavor profile. Canned, fresh, or frozen corn can be used depending on what you have on hand.
  • Sweet Peas: These add a sweet, tender pop of flavor to the salad.
  • Salt and Pepper: These seasonings enhance the overall flavor profile and balance the sweetness of the corn and peas. Adjust the amounts to taste, adding more or less based on personal preference.

Background: A Persian Pasta Salad Staple

Persian Macaroni Salad, or “Salad-e Makaroni,” is a beloved dish in many Persian homes. This pasta salad isn’t necessarily defined by traditional Persian flavors, but it’s a recipe every Persian family knows and loves.

It has become a staple at parties and large gatherings, celebrated for its simplicity, batch size, and versatility.

The salad’s popularity stems from its ability to serve as both a main dish and a side, making it a convenient and crowd-pleasing option for any event. It’s also great when you’re hosting a large number of people.

The blend of creamy mayonnaise, crunchy vegetables, and savory mortadella creates a satisfying combination of flavors and textures that appeals to both adults and children.

What sets this salad apart is its adaptability. Each family might have its unique twist on the recipe, adding or substituting ingredients based on personal preferences and regional variations.

This flexibility ensures that Persian Macaroni Salad remains a cherished dish across different households and occasions. Whether it’s a casual family dinner or a festive celebration, this salad is sure to make an appearance, highlighting the social and communal nature of Persian cuisine.


How to Make Persian Style Macaroni Salad

Step 1

Add the pasta to salted boiling water. Boil according to pasta package instructions or until cooked properly.

boil your elbow pasta

Step 2

After the macaroni has cooled, start adding the rest of the ingredients over it in the bowl you’ll serve it in. Add the mortadella, peas, chopped pepper, corn, and chopped pickles.

Add the veggies and mortadella to pasta

Step 3

Next, season with salt and pepper and add mayonnaise. Mix until all the ingredients are well-combined.

add mayo and seasoning to the mix

Final Step

Chill in the fridge for at least an hour and serve!

mix well, chill, and serve

Recipe Tips

  • Salt Your Pasta Water Generously: Make sure the water for boiling the macaroni is well-salted. This is your first chance to season the pasta itself and will enhance the overall flavor of the salad.
  • Prevent Sticking: After cooking and draining the macaroni, toss it with a small amount of olive oil. This prevents the pasta from sticking together as it cools, making it easier to mix with the other ingredients later.
  • Finely Chop Ingredients: For a harmonious bite, ensure all the vegetables, mortadella, and pickles are chopped finely and evenly. This not only improves the texture but also ensures each forkful has a bit of every flavor.
  • Chill for Best Flavor: After mixing the salad, let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. This resting period allows the flavors to meld together, resulting in a more cohesive and flavorful dish.
  • Balance the Creaminess: If you prefer a lighter salad, replace half of the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt or sour cream. This will add a tangy flavor while still maintaining the creamy texture.
  • Season Gradually: Add salt and pepper in small increments, tasting as you go. This prevents over-seasoning and ensures the perfect balance of flavors.
  • Customize Your Protein: If mortadella isn’t available, feel free to substitute with cooked chicken or sauteed mushrooms. This keeps the salad versatile and adaptable to different dietary needs.

Persian style macaroni salad served in white serving bowl placed on a white serving platter

Variations and Substitutes

Protein Alternatives: If you can’t find mortadella or prefer a different protein, cooked and diced chicken, ham, or even tuna are great alternatives. For a vegetarian version, try chickpeas or mushrooms.

Mayonnaise Alternatives: For a lighter salad, replace half or all of the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt or sour cream.

Different Pasta Shapes: While elbow macaroni is traditional, you can use other pasta shapes like rotini, or bow ties. Just ensure the pasta is bite-sized and can hold the dressing well.

Vary the Vegetables: Feel free to add or substitute other vegetables based on your preferences or what you have on hand. Diced celery, carrots, or red bell peppers can add a nice crunch and color.

Add Fresh Herbs: Fresh herbs like parsley, dill, or chives can be added for an extra layer of flavor. These herbs bring a fresh, aromatic quality that complements the creamy salad.

Spicy Twist: If you enjoy a bit of heat, add finely chopped jalapeños or a dash of hot sauce to the salad. This will give the dish a spicy kick that contrasts nicely with the creamy elements.


Persian style macaroni salad served in white serving bowl placed on a white serving platter with a second smaller bowl behind it

Storage

Refrigeration: Store the Persian macaroni salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep well for up to 3 days. This helps maintain its freshness and prevents the ingredients from drying out.

Prepping in Advance: You can prepare the salad a day ahead of time, which allows the flavors to meld together even better. Just give it a good stir before serving to redistribute the dressing.

Avoid Freezing: This salad is not suitable for freezing due to the mayonnaise-based dressing and the texture of the pasta and vegetables. Freezing can cause the salad to become watery and the pasta to lose its texture.

Separate Ingredients: If you plan to make the salad in advance but want to keep it as fresh as possible, store the cooked pasta, chopped vegetables, and dressing separately. Combine them shortly before serving.

Refreshing Leftovers: If the salad seems dry after being stored, add a bit more mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, or a splash of olive oil to freshen it up before serving again. This will revive the creamy texture and freshen the taste.


Persian style macaroni salad served in white serving bowl placed on a white serving platter

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a different type of pasta?

Yes, you can use any small pasta shape such as rotini, or shells. Just ensure it holds the dressing well.

What can I substitute for mortadella?

You can use ham, chicken, or even a vegetarian alternative like mushrooms or chickpeas for a different texture and flavor.

Is there a lighter alternative to mayonnaise?

Absolutely! You can use Greek yogurt, sour cream, or a combination of both for a lighter version of the dressing.

How long should I chill the salad before serving?

For the best flavor, chill the salad in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. This allows the flavors to meld together.

How do I prevent the pasta from sticking together?

After cooking the pasta, drain it and toss it with a little olive oil. This will help prevent it from sticking as it cools.


Other Pasta Salads to Try


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Persian style macaroni salad served in white serving bowl placed on a white serving platter
5 from 5 votes

Easy Persian Macaroni Salad

A popular version of macaroni salad found in most Persian homes, this delicious pasta has yummy veggies, mortadella, pickles, and a creamy mayo-based dressing.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 8
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Ingredients 

  • 8 oz elbow pasta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup Mortadella, chopped
  • ¾ cup Pickled cucumbers, chopped
  • 1 cup Corn, canned
  • 1 cup Sweet peas, canned
  • 1 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black pepper

Instructions 

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil. Season generously with salt and add the pasta. Cook according to the package instruction, until tender. Drain and toss with the olive oil to avoid sticking. Cool completely.
  • Transfer the cooled pasta to a large bowl. Add in the chopped bell pepper, mortadella, pickles, corn and sweet peas.
  • Add in the mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine and make sure to bring up the pasta from the bottom of the bowl to the top so all the ingredients are well mixed.
  • Taste and add more mayonnaise, salt and pepper if needed. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.
  • Give it a good mix before serving.

Video

Notes

Salt Your Pasta Water Generously: Make sure the water for boiling the macaroni is well-salted. This is your first chance to season the pasta itself and will enhance the overall flavor of the salad.
Prevent Sticking: After cooking and draining the macaroni, toss it with a small amount of olive oil. This prevents the pasta from sticking together as it cools, making it easier to mix with the other ingredients later.
Finely Chop Ingredients: For a harmonious bite, ensure all the vegetables, mortadella, and pickles are chopped finely and evenly. This not only improves the texture but also ensures each forkful has a bit of every flavor.
Chill for Best Flavor: After mixing the salad, let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. This resting period allows the flavors to meld together, resulting in a more cohesive and flavorful dish.
Balance the Creaminess: If you prefer a lighter salad, replace half of the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt or sour cream. This will add a tangy flavor while still maintaining the creamy texture.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 423kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 698mg | Potassium: 199mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 83IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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About Shadi HasanzadeNemati

I'm here to show you how to make delicious Persian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food at home. My easy to follow recipes will bring exciting new flavors to your table!

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5 from 5 votes

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5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I just bought Mortadella! How perfect is that?! I’m making this tonight for the family…perfect summer pasta salad. It sounds wonderful!

  2. 5 stars
    The easy Persian macaroni salad was a delightful surprise. The blend of flavors and textures made it a perfect side dish. The recipe was straightforward, and the result was both creamy and refreshing. This salad will definitely be a regular at our table!