This is a variation on The Schmoops’ mom’s macaroni salad. The basic recipe is already really good, but I stumbled on this today when I decided that I can’t put these Vlasic sweet pickles in my mac salad, they taste awful! So I did this instead and it was the best macaroni salad I’ve ever had.

You think I’m exaggerating but I’m not.

The Schmoops’ mom’s major contribution to macaroni salad lore is the fact that she uses store bought Italian dressing ( I am partial to Wishbone’s Robusto Italian ) to build flavor instead of mayonnaise, thus resulting in a slightly less guilty dish.

Tomato Basil Macaroni Salad
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
Pretty awesome.
  • ¾ lb tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup basil, chiffonade
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ lb macaroni
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ⅔ cup Italian dressing
  • 1 tsp Dijon or honey mustard
  • ⅓ cup celery, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup ham, finely chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Combine first 7 ingredients ( tomatoes through ¼ tsp salt ), marinate 3 hours to overnight.
  2. Cook macaroni while chopping vegetables.
  3. Drain macaroni, cool for 15 min or until not steaming.
  4. Add Italian dressing and marinate for 30 minutes.
  5. Add the chopped vegetables and ham, mix well.
  6. Add mayonnaise and mustard, mix thoroughly.
  7. Drain the tomatoes but reserve the juices. Add the tomatoes and mix well.
  8. Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and reserved balsamic marinade.
  9. Serve at room temperature.
For a basic macaroni salad, leave out the marinated tomatoes, and add ½ - ¾ cup finely chopped sweet pickles; substitute a mix of mayonnaise and sour cream (3 parts mayo to 2 parts sour cream) in place of just mayonnaise, increase amount up to 1 cup of the mix; add chopped parsley to taste. Finely chopped cucumbers are also good in this.