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Tuesday Tailgatin’: The Perfect Creamy Pasta Salad

Here is one dish that won’t disappoint at any football tailgate.

NCAA Football: Georgia at Florida Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

I love football. And I love eating.

Tailgating combines these two favorite pastimes seamlessly. For years here at Dawgsports we’ve been doing a virtual tailgate every Friday. This year, we’re switching things up by actually talking tailgating every Tuesday. Sometimes we will spotlight a recipe. Other times we’ll talk logistics. Sometimes we may just swap stories.

But one way or another Tuesdays, like every other day, are perfect for tailgating. We kick of the tradition by spotlighting one of the quintessential tailgate recipes, a creamy pasta salad.

It seems everyone and their Aunt Bertha has a pasta salad recipe, and that’s no coincidence. Everyone seems to love this side, it’s simple for those of us who didn’t graduate from Le Cordon Bleu to whip up, and it goes with everything.

This particular recipe includes a couple of subtle tweaks that I believe set it apart from the run of the mill church picnic version. I hope you enjoy it, and include it at your next Sanford Stadium get together.

MaconDawg’s Creamy Pasta Salad


* 1/3 cup sour cream

* 1/2 cup Duke’s mayonnaise. This is not negotiable. I don’t care if you use another brand on your sandwich. This salad demands the king of mayos.

* 1 tablespoon Dijon or whole grain mustard

* 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

* 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

* 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, plus more to taste

* 1/2 teaspoon sugar

For the salad itself you’ll need:

* 10 ounces dry elbow macaroni or similar small pasta shape

* 1/4 medium Vidalia or other sweet onion, finely chopped, about 1/4 cup

* 1/3 cup canned roasted red peppers, diced

* 2 celery stalks, very finely chopped, about 1/3 cup

* 8-10 sweet cherry tomatoes, chopped and patted dry with a paper towel

* 1 to 2 medium dill pickles, finely chopped (you can also use dill relish, about 1/3 cup)

Start by cooking the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and rinse it well under cold water to remove the thin layer of starch from the outside of the pasta. This step is actually important. Do not skip it, because doing so will leave you with gummy pasta salad. You don’t want that. Nobody wants that.

In a large salad bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar. Finally toss the rinsed macaroni, onion, bell pepper, celery, tomato and pickles into the bowl with the dressing. Mix well, but not aggressively (you don’t want to bust up the pasta). Add salt and pepper to taste and chill before serving at your tailgate.

Go ‘Dawgs!