With all of the excitement that Memorial Day brings (the start of summer! Barbecues! Long weekend!), it is important to reflect the true purpose of this holiday: it is a somber day of remembrance of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Having had a number of family members and friends who have served, the significance of this day is not lost on me, and I offer thanks and prayers to all of those whom this holiday is truly about.
I was incredibly fortunate to grow up as part of a close, large family. This has instilled in me a love for holiday weekends because of the opportunity they present to gather together, and to enjoy good food, good drink, and good conversations with each other. While these often potluck meals do tend to feature some high calorie, unhealthy menu items (burgers laden with cheese come to mind), in general, home cooking is much better for you than a meal eaten out. The following sides and salads tend toward the healthy, with one final dessert recommendation that is decidedly unhealthy (but delicious!).
Here are a few possibilities for inclusion in your Memorial Day festivities:
Strawberry Spinach Salad, Maine Home Cooking, page 220
I’ve shared this salad in a weekly recipe post before, and it truly is delicious. I recommend adding some goat cheese and going with balsamic vinegar for in the dressing – the combination of sweet, tart, and creamy really complements the wholesome spinach.
A Dilly of a Pickled Beet Salad, Dishing Up Maine, page 69
Nick loves beets, and ever since we joined our local CSA, The Dirt Farmers, I’ve been including them in our order almost weekly. I haven’t made this one yet, but it’s a guaranteed hit in our house:
For 4 servings, you’ll need:
- 1 1/2 lb beets of uniform size, trimmed
- 3/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon dill seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons Simple Shallot Vinaigrette (recipe below this one)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Cook beets in a pot of salted water until tender when pierced with a sharp knife (30-45 minutes, depending on size). Drain and allow to cool, then peel and slice into a bowl.
Bring the vinegar, water, sugar, dill seeds, and salt to a boil in a medium-sized sauce pan. Cook, stirring until sugar is dissolved, and pour the hot liquid over the beets, stirring gently to combine.
This salad is meant to be served at room temperature or cool, so refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to one week. Before serving, remove the beets from the pickling liquid, drizzle with vinaigrette and sprinkle with dill. Enjoy!
Simple Shallot Vinaigrette, page 58
- 2 shallots, minced (3 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup olive oil
Whisk ingredients together, adding oil last. Refrigerate and use as needed, up to one week.
Salad of tomato, feta, and basil with kalamata vinaigrette, Maine Summers Cookbook, page 159
Coming appropriately from my summertime cookbook, this salad looks right up my alley… easy, quick, and tasty:
For 4 servings, you’ll need:
- 2 cups cubed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and minced
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Mix the tomatoes and basil by hand in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, sugar, and olives until well blended. Pour the oil mixture over the tomato mixture and toss to coat. Toss in the feta cheese and serve at room temperature.
Whoopie Pies, Maine Home Cooking, page 70
The whoopie pie is a classic Maine dessert guaranteed to make you the hit of the party. And they’re really not as hard as they look to make! This is another recipe I’ve previously blogged about: Whoopie for Whoopie Pies
Here’s to a Memorial Day weekend of delicious food and even better company!