This pasta salad is a real crowd pleaser, and one of the best summer salads going. People will hoover up plates of it. It's not cheap to make, what with the cashew nuts, nor is it quick to make, what with all the chopping, but people won't be able to stop eating it and it could soon become one of your signature summer salads that people expect from you. Most people pronounce it, hands-down, the best tuna-macaroni salad they've ever had. This recipe makes 12 cups / 3 quarts / 1.8 kg. For a version that is far less fattening, but still just as full-flavoured, see our recipe for Tuna Pasta Salad (Light).
Cook the pasta just until al dente in boiling, salted water. Drain, rinse with hot water from the tap so it won't all stick together, then set aside to cool.
Chop all the veggies and put into a quite large bowl. (Optional: some chopped fresh parsley, some chopped fresh lovage.)
Add the drained tuna. Add the ground black pepper (optional: 1/2 teaspoon paprika.) Stir with your hands to mix the pepper in.
Using a spoon, or your hands still, fold in the Miracle Whip and the mayonnaise.
Now add the cooled pasta in, stir carefully with a spoon or your hands to coat the pasta.
Cover, put in fridge, and let chill a minimum of 4 hours to allow the flavours to marry. Can be made the day ahead (it's even better then.)
In North America, cavatappi pasta is sometimes sold labelled as "Scoobi doo" pasta. Click cavatappi ingredient to see picture; the curve in it, along with the ridges in it, are ideal to help the ingredients in this salad bind together on your fork. But if you can't get it, regular macaroni will do.It's critical for the toothsomeness of the salad that you don't go past al dente with the pasta, or the salad turns out mooshy and waterlogged.No need to chop the cashews. Get plain, unsalted, unseasoned ones. Reserve a handful to garnish the top when serving.Use Bell Peppers of whatever colour or mixed colours you wish. Some red is nice visually.The recipe does not need salt to most people's tastes; it already gets a salty taste from the Miracle Whip, tuna, pasta being boiled in salted water, etc. Miracle Whip (or its generic equivalent of whipped salad dressing, or salad cream in the UK) is in the recipe for its zing. If you use only mayonnaise, you will find yourself wanting to add something to put the zing back in. (Try pickle juice, more paprika, etc.)If the salad has chilled for a long time -- say 8 hours, or overnight, you may find that the pasta and the nuts have absorbed a lot of the dressing making the salad look dry: if so, just before serving, mix in a bit more Miracle Whip / mayonnaise until it doesn't look dry to you.Use as large a bowl or a huge a pot as you can to mix it in. You won't regret it; you'll need the room.Easily doubled or tripled for large crowds.