Macaroni Salad Week is a time for reflection and introspection. How, how will I ever replace the mayonnaise in the classic macaroni salad that invites itself to every picnic, reunion, barbecue and other such grill gathering? And as I was contemplating the wonder of spring that is fresh asparagus and how nicely it pairs with lemon, the answer came to me. It's creamy, tangy, full of umami and just might be the perfect binder. Goat cheese.
Serve this goat cheese, lemon and asparagus macaroni salad with lighter fare, like grilled chicken, fish or shrimp for a lighter, seasonal, more flavorful version of a beloved barbecue side.
- 8 ounces goat cheese, softened
- juice and zest of one lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 pound macaroni
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- salt to taste
- In a medium bowl, combine goat cheese, lemon juice, zest and black pepper with a fork until smooth and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, transfer asparagus to a colander and lower into boiling water.
- Blanch asparagus for one minute until bright green, then remove colander from boiling water and drop asparagus into a large bowl of ice water to stop it from cooking further.
- Boil the macaroni in the water, drain, transfer to a large bowl and toss with the olive oil and red pepper flakes to coat.
- While still slightly warm, stir in goat cheese mixture and asparagus until the macaroni and asparagus is evenly coated.
- Season with salt to taste and refrigerate until 30 minutes before you're ready to serve — it tastes better at room temperature.