Macaroni is pretty much a universal dish that uses elbow macaroni that’s splattered with cuts of meats or fruits, mixed in mayonnaise some type of cream, and served cold. But unlike in other cultures, macaroni salad isn’t merely a side dish in Filipino cuisine. Instead, it’s one of the top Filipino dessert recipes and is popularly served during the holidays and huge celebrations. It’s also commonly served during family picnics or vacations.
This pasta dish is most probably introduced by the Americans to the Philippines during the American colonial occupation. Just like many other dishes that are introduced to the Philippines, Filipinos quickly adapted it into their own and evolved it to result in a Filipino version of the original dish.
The macaroni salad is no exception, just like the Filipino-style Spaghetti, the Filipino macaroni salad has a sweeter flavor compared to its international counterparts.
See also: Filipino Style Spaghetti Recipe
Of course, macaroni pasta originated from Italy. We mostly used the curved macaroni pasta here in the Philippines, commonly known as elbow macaroni. But macaroni pasta in Italy can be straight or curved. But aside from macaroni pasta, other types of short cut pasta can be used for this recipe like penne, rotini, and mostaccioli.
It was such a fun day discovering these different cuts of pasta that aren’t as common here in the Philippines.
Aside from being generally sweet in flavor, our macaroni salad, unlike international versions, use ingredients like meat and raisins. The most common meat that’s used in macaroni salad recipes is chicken. I’m sure you’re familiar with another variety of our Macaroni Salad recipe, the Macaroni Chicken Salad Recipe.
I guess we Filipinos love our meat, even in our desserts. This extra ingredient is probably the reason why we don’t eat our version of the macaroni salad as a side dish. It’s because, with the chicken along with the pasta, the salad is already quite filling on its own.
The chicken is typically boiled and shredded before mixing it in with the elbow macaroni and mayonnaise. Each household in the Philippines prepares its macaroni salad differently but the main point of focus is that the macaroni should be sweet in flavor, cold, and has chicken bits.
Other ingredients that can be included in the mix are cuts of carrots, raisins, cubed cheese, and pickles. Sometimes, pineapple bits and slices of ham would be included in the recipe with this version of the Filipino macaroni salad being seen more towards the Christmas season.
I personally love my macaroni salad to be meatier as opposed to having more fruit bits in it. The little fruit cuts that are in the macaroni salad with a bigger meaty ration gives a great contrast in flavor and highlights the sweetness. Of course, we can’t forget that macaroni salad should be creamy and chilled. Perfect for a hot day during a family picnic.
Of course, it’s up to you what you want portions of the ingredients you want to mix into your macaroni salad. The beauty of this recipe is that anyone can modify it according to their preference.
One advice that I can give is that you need to cook the pasta al dente. Just to have the pasta a little more give when bitten into. Plus, the texture of the cream that’s put into the mix brought enough softness to the dish.
What I also love about the macaroni salad recipe is that you can pre-prepare all the ingredients, chill them all overnight, bring them to a vacation destination, and combine them at the destination and you’ll still get a deliciously fresh macaroni salad.
It’s such a good dish for instant get-togethers and potlucks.
I’m pretty sure you’re already convinced of how this sweet Filipino recipe of the macaroni salad is such a great dish, so we would love to present to you our macaroni salad recipe. This recipe fits those who opted for simply fewer ingredients.
Preparation of the ingredients requires a bit of time but you’ll simply have to combine the ingredients and chill them to get the best results. All of the ingredients and step by step instructions are enumerated down below for an easy macaroni salad recipe. Enjoy!
Macaroni Salad Recipe
- 1 cup raw macaroni pasta cooked al dente
- 9 ounces chicken tenders boiled and diced or chopped into small pieces or diced
- 1 small fuji apples diced
- 1 cup crushed pineapple drained well
- 1/2 cup cheese diced or grated
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise this is a very small amount for this kind of dish, feel free to add more if you think the salad is too dry or you can add a little milk instead
- salt and white pepper to taste
- optional : add about 1/2 cup cooked shrimp; peeled and deveined
- In a big bowl, combine everything and toss gently until well combine, taste it; adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Cover the bowl or transfer into a covered container and chill for at least 2 hours.
- Serve and enjoy your chicken macaroni salad!