Summertime Mini Mac Salad
Need a side dish for those summer barbecues and potlucks that is sure to please? This Summertime Mini Mac Salad fits the bill – it’s packed with mini semolina pasta, pineapple, mandarin oranges, marshmallows, Cool Whip, and a sweet dressing. Believe me: every bite is delicious!
If you couldn’t tell by the sheer number of fruit salads (desserts/side dishes?) I’ve been posting lately, I’ve been a little obsessed with these easy to throw together dishes. This Summertime Mini Mac Salad recipe comes from my mom, and it’s one she’s been making as long as I can remember. The ingredient combination sounds a little strange, but just go with me here. The end result is fabulous.
You’ll need Acini di Pepe pasta, which is just a super small pasta – about the size of a grain of couscous. I get mine at Kroger; I snapped a quick picture so you could see both the packaging and the uncooked pasta for reference.
My mom just calls this “mini mac salad,” and it’s long been a favorite, by friends and family alike. My parents still get together with a couple my dad went to high school with (high school sweethearts, how sweet is that?!), and Doyle always raves when my mom makes this salad.
Honestly, I think “salad” is a misnomer here, because there is no way any other time of the year I would eat something containing Cool Whip and marshmallows and call it a salad. But, since we’re starting to get into the hot days of summer, it seems like almost any side dish that is cool bears the moniker salad. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. ☺️
I know this bowl of white fluff doesn’t look like much, but it’s a little addictive once you get started. Start off with those little pastas tossed with pineapple chunks and mandarin oranges and coated with a light, almost custard-like sauce. Add to that some mini marshmallows and Cool Whip (try making your own, it’s fab!), and you’re good to go!
- 1 cup Ancini di Pepe pasta
- 8-ounce can pineapple tidbits, drained (reserve juice)
- 8.25 ounce can mandarin oranges, drained (reserve juice)
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 cup mini marshmallows
- 8-ounces Cool Whip, thawed
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain, and run under cool water. Place cooked and cooled pasta in a large bowl and set aside.
- Add reserved pineapple juice and mandarin orange juice and 1 cup sugar to a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally. Once the sugar dissolves, remove a small amount and place the sugar mixture in a small bowl. Add the egg yolks and whisk to combine.
- Pour egg-sugar mixture back into the sauce pan. Add 3 tablespoons flour and continue cooking until the mixture thickens. Remove mixture from heat and allow to cool.
- Combine pasta, pineapple, mandarin oranges, dressing and mini marshmallows, and stir to combine. Fold in Cool Whip. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
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Interestingly enough, I didn’t grow up with an interest in cooking. In fact, I informed my mother on multiple occasions that I was not getting an advanced education so I could spend my evenings preparing meals.
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