Written by our friend Rachael of La Fuji Mama
The Hawaiian plate lunch is an institution in Hawaiian food culture—an inexpensive plate of comfort food that can be purchased at restaurants and roadside stands all over the state. The plate lunch traditionally has some sort of protein, 2 scoops of white rice, and a scoop of Hawaiian-style macaroni salad. I remember the first time I experienced a plate lunch. I was thirteen and my family was visiting my grandparents who were living on Oahu at the time and we stopped at a plate lunch restaurant one afternoon. I vividly remember a cheap Styrofoam plate piled high with barbecued pork, steamed white rice, and that macaroni salad. I remember being so full that I felt like I needed to be wheeled out in a wheelbarrow, but wishing I could still eat more. Addictive stuff, let me tell you! Fast forward a few years and I married my husband, who happens to be 1/4 Hawaiian. (Smart planning on my part, don’t you think?) About a year ago his uncle sent me a bunch of their family recipes, including the recipe for Hawaiian-style macaroni salad that their mom made for them growing up.
The typical Hawaiian macaroni salad is made with elbow macaroni that is cooked until very tender (beyond al dente!) so that it will soak up lots of the mayonnaise based dressing, which includes some sort of sweetener and sometimes some apple cider vinegar. Shredded carrots are also thrown in and maybe some onion. My husband’s family swears by using Best Foods brand mayonnaise (“a must” says my husband’s uncle), but from what I’ve heard, there are lots of differing opinions on what brand of mayo is the best choice!
So why Hawaiian macaroni salad? Because it’s the perfect side dish to make for a family barbecue, picnic, or potluck. It goes with anything, can be made ahead of time, and it’s crazy delicious if you add chunks of ripe California avocado, which is perfect considering that it is summertime and California Avocado Month! I recently whipped up a batch using the family recipe, but added a bunch of avocado, and it was so good that I think this is how we will make it from now on.
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad with California Avocado Recipe
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30-35 minutes
Total time: 35-40 minutes
3 cups (uncooked) large elbow macaroni
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar]
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp. sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup carrot, grated
3 green onions, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 ripe, Fresh California Avocados, seeded, peeled, and chopped into cubes
- Cook the macaroni in salted boiling water until it is tender. Rinse the cooked pasta briefly with cold water, then drain well. Toss the pasta with the apple cider vinegar in a large bowl and let it sit for 15 minutes to cool
- Add the mayonnaise, milk, sweetened condensed milk, grated carrot, and sliced green onions to the macaroni and stir until the pasta is well coated. Season the pasta with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, then gently stir in the chopped avocados
- Cover the salad and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving. As the salad chills, the macaroni will absorb a lot of the dressing. When you are ready to serve the salad, you can add additional mayonnaise and/or milk if you want to make it more moist