Poolside Pasta Salad

Weekends during the summer season often finds us relaxing at the country club pool with books—or should I say kindles—in hand. While much of their food fare is the typical hotdogs, hamburgers, chicken wings, french fries and ooo-gobs of ice cream novelty items, they do offer a few health-friendly salads.

Good in a pinch, but that gets old, and expensive, so we try to be creative in what we whip together ourselves to tote with us, such as pasta salad. I know I don’t have to tell you this one simple truth, that not all macaroni salads are created equal. One tried-and-true option for us is our gluten-free macaroni, tuna and egg salad with lots of healthy veggies.


Of course, you can adjust any of the ingredients, or quantities to suit your own needs. I personally don’t like mine real “wet” while hubby does, so I only use a half cup mayo as opposed to a whole cup like most recipes. Don’t like olives, then don’t include them. Prefer to use parsley instead of chives, then by all means do. And consider tossing in some chopped celery leaves, they add a nice texture and taste.


I’m using the term “pasta salad” interchangeably here. The terms “macaroni salad” and “pasta salad” have different meanings in different places, but generally, at least in the U.S., creamy noodle salads are referred to as macaroni salads whereas oil & vinegar based ones are called pasta salads. While pasta obviously didn’t originate in the U.S. and pasta salads are popular worldwide, the traditional creamy macaroni salad is very much an American classic. You say toe-MAY-toe, I say toe-MAH-toe

Name aside, a cardinal sin is not enough salt. Carbs such as potatoes, pasta, legumes, etc—soak up salt like nothing else. Keep in mind, the word salad comes from the Latin base word sal which means “salt.” So don’t be afraid to be generous with the shaker.

Another item to consider is that while macaroni salad tastes best a couple of hours later after the flavors have had time to meld, it doesn’t make the ideal leftover food the next day because those noodles are thirsty and they’ll continue to soak up liquid, leaving you with a dry salad. If you do end up with leftovers the next day, you might want to add a little more of the mayo sauce before serving.

Russ was adding the oil very slowly, then I took over and added it just a bit too fast…

The homemade mayo was perfect, until just after I took the photo and it “broke.”

About that mayonnaise… I made an error in assuming we had enough on hand. Wrong. But Russ proudly announced he could make some, and he has many times before so I went with it. That is until it “broke,” meaning the oil separated from the egg. And that might be a little bit my fault, as I was the one adding the oil a little too fast, oops. Second time around he used our mini-processor and we had success. Yes, it probably would have been quicker, and cheaper, to have run out to the grocery store again…



  • 8 oz. elbow macaroni, or other small pasta
  • 5 hard boiled eggs, sliced
  • 1, 12 oz. can albacore tuna in water, drained
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise, preferably made with olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. capers, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup pit-free kalamata olives, sliced into rounds
  • 1 thick carrot, shredded
  • 1 large rib celery, cut in half vertically then sliced thin at a diagonal
  • 1 small (or half of a large) red or green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 thinly sliced scallions, some greens saved for garnish

TIP: If you want to add a bit of a sweet note, incorporate ¼ cup sweet pickle relish and 1 tablespoon sugar.


  1. Hard boil 4 eggs, cool in ice bath, peel and slice with egg slicer or knife.
    Do your self a favor and buy one of these gizmos at the Dollar Store.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, rinse with cold water and let cool completely.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the mayo, mustard, vinegar, capers, salt and pepper.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, add the pasta, tuna, olives, carrot, bell pepper, chives and celery. Toss in the mayo mixture and stir until well-coated.
  5. Add the egg slices on top and gently stir a few times to incorporate but not break up the pieces. Top with a sprinkling of thinly sliced scallion greens.
  6. Cover tightly and refrigerate for a couple of hours to meld flavors until ready for use.

Poolside or not, this is a good summer salad for wherever you are!

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