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Recipe for Gourmet Brazilian Pasta Salad

Brazilian Macarronese With Bacon and Dijon Dressing

fusilli pasta salad in white bowl

If Brazil and the American Midwest had a baby, it might be this fusilli pasta salad. Loaded with delicious and comforting ingredients, macarronese is a staple side dish that Brazilians like to bring to churrascos (cookouts) or potlucks. 

The word “macarronese” is an amalgam of the Portuguese words for pasta (macarrao) and mayonnaise (maionese). There are plenty of both in this recipe, so it is a fair description. Traditional recipes also include diced ham, shredded carrots, peas, olives, corn, and onions. 

The wonderful thing about pasta salad is that you can customize it with virtually any ingredient. Our version incorporates many of the traditional favorites, but we have substituted the diced ham with crispy, crumbly bacon and replaced the diced onion with fresh chives. The addition of tart and sweet cherry tomatoes gives another depth of flavor. 

It wouldn’t be macarronese with mayo, but we have reduced the amount slightly and cut it with a dressing made from shallots, olive oil, lemon juice and dijon mustard. 

In America, we typically use macaroni for pasta salad, which you can certainly use in this recipe. We do find, however, that the twists and turns of fusilli allow for a more generous coating and absorption of the flavors. 

Gourmet Brazilian Pasta Salad (Macarronese with Bacon and Dijon Dressing)


1 lb (16 oz) packaged fusilli noodles

1 cup shredded carrots

1 cup peas, frozen or fresh

12 slices of thick cut bacon

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

3 tablespoons fresh chives, diced

1 shallot, minced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

¾ cup mayonnaise



  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add your pasta and cook according to package instructions. Drain and put pasta in a large, heat-safe bowl.
  2. While the pasta is still warm, add your halved cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, and peas. The residual heat will soften the ingredients and cook them a little. 
  3. Cook the bacon until crisp. Crumble into bite-sized pieces and set aside on paper towels to drain. 
  4. In the same pan you used to cook the bacon, reserve 1 tsp or so of the drippings and discard the rest. Add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and cook your minced shallots until soft and translucent. 
  5. Add the oil and cooked shallots to a small mixing bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice, one more tablespoon of olive oil, and the dijon mustard. 
  6. Pour your dressing over the fusili pasta and vegetables and mix to coat. 
  7. Let the noodles cool to room temperature, then add your bacon, mayonnaise, and fresh chives. Season with plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Mix thoroughly.  

Serve at room temperature or chilled. 

What to Serve with Brazilian Pasta Salad?

This is a filling side dish that Brazilians like to serve at churrascos, or barbecues. Brazilian barbecues tend not to feature full plates of hamburgers and hot dogs in buns. Rather, thin cuts of meat are served as they are ready and sliced onto guests plates. 

One of Brazil’s favorite cuts of meat is picanha. It cooks beautifully over a charcoal or gas grill and, seasoned simply with rock salt, is a perfect accompaniment to your pasta salad. You can find picanha at most specialty butchers or order it online at Texas de Brazil’s Butcher Shop. 


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