~ Amish Honey-Mustard & Pickle-Relish Pasta Salad ~
Walk into any Amish or Pennsylvania Dutch grocery store or a market that caters to a region with a large Amish population, then, walk up to the refrigerated deli-case. There you'll find several traditional, high-quality side-dishes: eggy-rich macaroni- and potato- salads, creamy cole slaw, sweet 'n sour slaw and pepper-cabbage. Next, take a stroll down the condiment isle and gaze at the array of honey-mustard- and sweet and sour- salad dressings, dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, vinegar-marinated vegetables or mustardy chow-chows (a crunchy vegetable medley in mustard sauce). Lastly, check out the sweet treats: streusel-topped Dutch-apple, rhubarb-streusel and shoo-fly pies, crumb cake and coffeecake, apple dumplings, and, sand-tart or snickerdoodle cookies (to name a few). Eat your sweet and savory heart out.
If you "shop Amish", you know what to expect. If you're a tourist, be prepared to break your budget, but not because the food is over-priced -- it's not. You are simply not going to be able to resist wanting to take a taste of everything home with you. Lucky me. Not only did I grow up in the Lehigh Valley region Eastern Pennsylvania where a lot this wonderfulness takes place, I married into a family where Nana (grandmother) was Pennsylvania Deutsch. She, like all women of her persuasion, was an incredible cook. I was in my late teens and early twenties at the time, but even back then, I was a smart enough cookie to "take advantage" of time spent with her in her kitchen, and enjoyed learning many of her recipes. I've done very little to make them my own.
Amish macaroni salad recipes are all on the sweet side.
There are plenty of recipes for Amish macaroni salad in cookbooks and on-line. They're all good, they're all a bit different, but, they're all similar on one point: Amish macaroni salad is on the sweet side. Nana's recipe contains all the traditional ingredients (macaroni, celery, onion and bell pepper). That said, she didn't add diced, crunch-tender blanched carrots (as most traditional recipes do). She used pimentos instead. I can only assume for their sweet, tangy flavor and pretty red color. There's more. Nana's secret was to add honey-mustard salad dressing into the mix, and, it adds absolutely delightful flavor. This macaroni salad is so delightful, I'm always asked:
"This macaroni salad is special." "What's your secret?"
1 tablespoon sea salt, for adding to boiling water for pasta
6 large eggs, hard-cooked
1 3-ounce jar chopped pimientos
1 cup each: medium-diced green bell pepper, celery and onion
1/2 cup well-drained and diced bread and butter pickles, preferably homemade, or, high-quality store-bought
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup honey-mustard salad dressing (not honey-mustard)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon each: celery seed, garlic powder, paprika, sea salt and coarse-grind black pepper
~Step 1. In an 8-quart stockpot bring 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil and add the 1 tablespoon salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Do not overcook. Drain pasta into a colander and begin adding very cold tap water to cool it to room- or below-room temperature. Give the colander a few good shakes, to remove excess moisture, then, spread pasta out on a baking pan that has been lined with a few layers of paper towels. Set aside to "dry", meaning, not dry out, just dry of all moisture. In a 2-quart saucepan, hard-cook the eggs -- no green rings please. Drain the pimentos onto a small paper-towel-lined plate too.
*Note: When chopping eggs for salads like egg, tuna- or pasta-, both of my grandmothers taught me to chop the yolk separately from the white. It's not necessary, but it does look prettier.
~Step 2. Transfer pasta to a large bowl. Dice eggs, celery, bell pepper, onion and pickles*, placing them in the bowl as you work. In a medium bowl, stir together the mayo, sour cream, honey-mustard dressing, celery seed, garlic powder, paprika, sugar, salt and black pepper.
*Note: Because almost all Amish and Pennsylvania Deutsch women make homemade bread and butter pickles, also known as sweet and sour pickles, there's no need to purchase sweet pickle relish. Finely-diced bread and butter pickles are the best sweet pickle relish you will ever taste.
~Step 3. Fold the mayonnaise mixture into the pasta mixture. Cover and refrigerate until well-chilled, several hours to overnight. Overnight is best. Keep stored in refrigerator for 7-10 days, adding additional honey-mustard salad dressing, in small amounts, if necessary, to enhance its sweet and savory flavor and creamy texture. Keep stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Portion into 1-quart containers & store in refrigerator:
Special Equipment List: 8-quart stockpot; colander; large baking pan; paper towels; 2-quart saucepan; cutting board; chef's knife; large rubber spatula
Cook's Note: Pennsylvania Dutch cookery does not belong solely to PA and it is not Dutch either. The term "Dutch" was the early English settlers slang for the German word "Deutsch". So: When most people incorrectly say "Pennsylvania Dutch", they should be saying "Pennsylvania Deutsch", crediting the Germanic or German-speaking immigrants from Germany and Switzerland for this cuisine. The majority of these people were either Amish, Mennonite or Brethren, all of which were considered "Anabaptist". They were fleeing the mountains of Switzerland and southern Germany to avoid religious persecution and established several communites in the Lehigh Valley. Why? Thank William Penn for his free-thinking, open-door, equal-opportunity-for-all of any religion or race politics. Pennsylvania set an example for the other colonies, who all had established an official "State" religion. Pennsylvania: The first to welcome people of all beliefs and walks of life.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)