Marinate The Vegetables For Bolder Flavor In Tuna Macaroni Salad

Tuna macaroni salad is a widespread tradition, found as a staple alongside potato and egg salad in delis, supermarkets, holiday spreads, and backyard barbecues in both Western and Eastern countries. Classic recipes toss canned tuna and macaroni elbows in a creamy, mayonnaise-based dressing with a mix of canned and fresh vegetables. However, between the mayonnaise and the tuna, the vegetables offer little more than textural contrast. Marinating the vegetables for your macaroni salad will ensure that their flavor pops, adding complexity and sophistication with little effort.

Unlike meat or fish, marinating vegetables won't take long to absorb marinades, so you can easily fit them into your macaroni salad recipe without tacking on extra preparation time. Furthermore, all it takes is an acid like lemon juice or vinegar and a pinch of salt to enhance and complement your vegetable's flavor. After about 15 minutes, the acid and salt will heighten any vegetable's natural flavor while also adding a bright, tangy kick. Plus, a quick marinade will instill juiciness without depleting a crisp veggie's crunch.

While your water starts to boil, you can chop up fresh vegetables like bell peppers, red onion, carrot, and celery, throwing them together with drained canned veggies like peas or corn in a bowl. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice or a splash of vinegar and a helping of salt over the veggies and leave them to marinate for 15 minutes while you wait for the macaroni to boil and prepare the dressing.

Marinated vegetables, seasonings, and dressing variations for tuna macaroni salad

Marinating vegetables will make their flavor stand out over the creamy, sweet, and sour mayo-based dressing and the oceanic, umami tuna. The vegetables, marinating liquid, and seasonings you choose can also take your macaroni salad in new and exciting directions.

If you want to add Italian flair to a macaroni salad, you can use a blend of Italian herbs like oregano, thyme, basil, and sage, with a dash of balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and salt to marinate chopped red onion, bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes. You could throw in a can of drained marinated artichoke hearts and sliced black olives for extra sophistication.

Thin slices of zucchini, white onion, diced red bell pepper, and canned corn marinated in lime juice, garlic powder, and chili powder would put a Southwestern twist on macaroni salad. Instead of pickle relish, you could add diced pickled jalapenos.

A Mediterranean twist on tuna macaroni salad would use Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise for the dressing and a zesty marinade of lemon juice, za'atar, and sumac for julienned carrots, chopped shallots, and sliced green beans. A sprinkle of feta cheese would round out the tang with creaminess and saltiness.