Memorial Day and Potato Salad

“Without the potato, the balance of European power might never have tilted north.” ~~ Michael Pollan
Red potatoes

Red potatoes

During my childhood, following the Memorial Day parade attended by most people in town, our family spent the day with friends of my parents. Dad and Dave had served in WWII. Their family was also large and their oldest daughter was my age. Judy and I spent hours together making doll clothes on a treadle Singer sewing machine and dressing up in old clothes from a trunk in the attic. We also pretended we were writers and I wrote my first story with a heroine named Pamela, my favorite name at the time.

The food we ate for our Memorial Day cook-out was always the same: burgers or hot dogs cooked on a charcoal grill, baked beans, and Mom’s Potato Salad.

In the interim decades I spent Memorial Day with various friends. Some were small with one family, others were large gatherings of friends and acquaintances. We didn’t always honor the reason for the holiday. Sometimes getting together with friends was honor enough.

The first Memorial Day after I moved back to my home town I went to the parade and the ceremony at the cemetery with 2 of my brothers and their families. The parade was a mere ghost of what it had been when I was a kid.

Going to the cemetery that year was important for us because Dad had died the previous September and we knew his name would be announced at the ceremony. I haven’t been to a parade since then but this afternoon we’ll be eating and playing Euchre with my brother and his family. We’re having potato salad, vegetarian baked beans, and my brother is making pork ribs. I’ll be eating a cheese sandwich on rustic bread with mashed avocado, onions, and radish.
Potato Salad
Mom’s Potato Salad was special made with a cooked sweet dressing. After Mom’s death her salad continued to be the only potato salad Dad would eat. I’ve carried her dressing recipe with me forever but I never make it. Instead I make a salad based on a recipe I got from an old cookbook called Wings of Life by Julie Jordan, who said she got the method from her mother. I don’t keep mayonnaise on hand because I don’t often use it. I’ve developed recipes for the dressing—with tahini, cashews, or silken tofu as a base, which are safer summer dressings.

Potato Salad Recipe
This recipe serves 4 to 6
Time: cooking the potatoes the day before about 1/2 hour; time for herbed potatoes to marinate overnight

black radish

black radish

6 medium-sized potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed of dirt, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (preferably organic)
6 tablespoons unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, or any kind you like
Handful of fresh herbs of your choice, finely minced, or a few teaspoons dried herbs (parsley, dill, tarragon, chives)
1 small sweet onion, diced, or a bunch of scallions, sliced
2 – 3 cups mixed veggies of your choice: radishes, baby Japanese turnips, kohlrabi, cucumber, anything in season, diced
2 or 3 hard cooked eggs, sliced
Homemade or commercial mayonnaise, or see my recipe for cashew or tahini-based dressing
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Roasted paprika powder


  1. Steam the potatoes until cooked through and tender, don’t let them get too soft, they will continue to soften in the marinade overnight.
  2. Mix together in a bowl the olive oil, vinegar, and herbs.
  3. Add the steamed potatoes to the marinade, stir well, and refrigerate overnight.
  4. The next day stir in the prepped veggies you’ve chosen.
  5. Stir in the mayonnaise or dressing until the salad is moist.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Top with sliced hard cooked eggs and sprinkle with paprika

* Best potatoes to use for potato salad are yellow Finns, red-skinned, purple, new potatoes; any kind you like is fine. My mom used to use whatever potatoes she had on hand for everything since there weren’t the options we have now and because she bought ten-pound bags of potatoes.



Author:Sharon Reese

Lacto-ovo vegetarian for over four decades.

Follow HeathfulCooking

I will be pleased to hear from you. I’ll try to answer questions you might have about cooking or nutrition.


  1. Cashew or Tahini Mayonnaise - Healthful Cooking - May 25, 2015

    […] you are adding herbs to your dish, like potato salad, you’ll want the herbs in your mayo to compliment the herbs you put in the […]

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge