There is a secret pasta salad ingredient that is so potent and powerful, it will put all the other side dishes at your summer potluck to shame. It’s called Salad Supreme. Use it and you will be rewarded with a glorious parade of compliments and the envy of your rival home cooks. Just close your eyes and imagine yourself saying, “Wow! I don’t have any pasta salad left! I guess people really like it” right in front of your aunt and her still-full bowl of baked beans. Dunking on loved ones at a potluck is one of my greatest joys in life. And in my opinion, pasta salad is one of the best dishes for shattering the backboard.
McCormick’s Salad Supreme is my no-longer-secret ingredient, and it’s an invaluable weapon to add to your cooking arsenal. It delivers a whole bunch of flavors: salty, peppery, nutty, vegetal, and cheesy. Just now, I dabbed a little bit on my finger and licked it off (don’t you dare judge me) and I can detect Romano cheese, celery salt, pepper, and poppy seed immediately. On the back end, there’s some cheddar, a bit of buttermilk tang, and some sesame seeds as well. The result is a wonderfully complex dried spice blend that is the absolute perfect addition to any pasta salad.
During a recent conversation with staff-writer Jordan Myrick about spice blends, she asked, “What’s the point of buying them if I can just make them at home?” I fully agree, there is no point—usually. However, there are some spice blends you just shouldn’t try at home. Salad Supreme, namely, would be a huge pain in the ass to make yourself. Why? The sheer number of ingredients:
Spices (paprika, poppy seed, celery seed, black pepper, red pepper), Romano cheese (part-skim cow’s milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), salt, sesame seed, whey, garlic, silicon dioxide (added to make free flowing), sunflower oil, extractives of paprika, nonfat milk solids, lactose, natural flavor, buttermilk powder, and cheddar cheese (milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes).
That’s a lot of dang components, bro. To make this at home, you would need nine different spices in addition to dried cheese—it just doesn’t seem possible. And all of the ingredients add something unique and important. The dried cheese adds a strong umami flavor. The buttermilk, cheddar, and Romano deliver a creamy tartness that’s absolutely addictive. The poppy seeds and sesame seeds are quite nutty. The celery seed adds a fresh, vegetal quality. The pepper and paprika add a lovely heat, and the garlic adds pungency. Surprisingly absent from this deliciously crowded spice combo is onion, but you hardly miss it.
The most popular application for Salad Supreme is pasta salad (it’s pictured on the bottle for a reason), and boy does this spice blend shine when it’s introduced to a big bowl of short noodles. Cooked, cold pasta is an excellent adsorbent blank canvas for seasonings, and each of the umpteen ingredients in Salad Supreme perfectly invades its every nook and cranny (it also dyes the pasta orange, just FYI).
Now, the pasta salad of my youth, the one my mom made for every summer event, included tricolor rotini, cubed salami, cubed pepperoni, cubed colby jack cheese, canned olives, bottled Italian dressing, and a container of Salad Supreme. The result is a pasta salad that is brightly aromatic, intensely flavorful, and delightfully simple to make. To maximize the saturation of the seasoning, leave it in the fridge overnight. I would say this is one of the top five pasta salads in existence—if you want the recipe, it’s right here! Make this if you want to dunk on your Aunt Gloria so hard you put her on a poster.