Cooking For Others: Potato Salad in Party-Town

EVENT: Labor Day Weekend
VENUE: Phoebe & Keith’s Parents’ Houses, Martha’s Vineyard
TYPE: Long Weekend Party
MENU: Breakfast Burrito Buffet & Pimm’s Cup; Man Burgers & Margaritas; Potato Salad; Corn with Herb Butter

Though we’ve been known to liven things up during winter months with cook-offs and the like, my friend Keith and I earned our status as a camp counselor tag team three summers ago on Martha’s Vineyard. We’ve both been coming to the island ever since we were little, but after we became friends in college, summer on the vineyard became that much more fun.

My whole extended family used to congregate every year at my grandparents’ house. Since some of the older folk passed away, the house has been rented for most of the summer, and my parents set up shop in a little cottage next door.

But a few summers ago, around the time of this scallop meal, my mom told me that the house had failed to be rented for Labor Day. I notified Keith. Then Keith notified everyone we knew. And by the end of the month, we were picking up people from the ferry–some I knew, some I did not–and camp was in session.

Thanks to the recession’s effect on island real estate, we’ve been able to maintain our Labor Day festivities for the past few summers. And it is the weekend I look forward to all year long.

Here’s how it tends to go down…

We start the morning off right with a Breakfast Burrito Buffet.

Adam and Whitney threaten each other with paring knifes and cucumber slices to determine who makes the best Pimm’s cup.

We taste test their concoctions at the beach.

Everyone’s excitement turns into a volley ball game.

My team wins.

We return home. And have a dance party in the driveway.

Adam gets started on his Man Burgers.

The girls get to work dipping plastic cups in salt for my dad’s famous hand-reamed margaritas.

A few boys get cocky and ask Adam to make them one-pound man burgers.

Matt wonders if he can finish in under an hour.

Cue: second dance party.

Cue: enthusiastic animal drinking game.

How does the night end you might ask? Not with late night pizza. Not with people passed out on the sofa (ok, well maybe that does happen). But with people crowded around the kitchen island, eating the remains of my mom’s potato salad with their fingers.
Because despite the dancing, the drinking, the gaming, and the amazing group of friends participating in these activities, the best part about Labor Day weekend is the potato salad. And even if you aren’t able to get away and celebrate the holiday with friends, I hope that you can at least make my mother’s version in your kitchen, and enjoy it right along with us.

From my kitchen, where I am drinking Pimm’s Cup and eating potato salad with my friends, to yours,



Sarah’s Herbed Potato Salad
Makes 10 – 15 servings

8-10 large red potatoes (about 5 pounds), halved
6 extra large eggs
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/3 cup minced vidalia (or spanish) onion
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Coleman’s dry mustard powder
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons capers

Place the potatoes in a large pot and fill it with water until they are submerged. Salt the water and bring it to boil over high heat. Cook the potatoes until tender, but not falling part. Drain and set aside to cool.

In the meantime, place the eggs in a small lidded pot and fill it with water until submerged. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, remove the pot from the heat, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes. Run the eggs under cool water if too hot to handle, then remove the shells.

Whisk together the mayo, mustard, mustard powder, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.

(Everything up until this point can be made 1-2 days in advance.)

Cut the potatoes into 1-inch chunks and add them to a large mixing bowl. Roughly chop the hard boiled eggs and add them to the bowl. Add the thyme, parsley, chives, capers and mayo-mustard mixture. Toss the potato salad together until incorporated. Taste for seasoning, and serve.

Posted in: Cooking for Others
  • Anonymous

    I'm paralyzed with envy. The beach looks even better than the potato salad.

  • Anonymous

    Squee! This is the definition of a perfect Labor Day Weekend. I am saving that potato salad recipe for future use. Thanks Phoebe! :)

    – Vanessa

  • alyssa

    I love this post! I will be photoshopping myself into the photo montage momentarily…

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    I love potato salad, and I don't know if this is helpful or not, but sometime check out German potato salad which is in my opinion the best potato salad that is out there. Its a hot version of the dish with bacon bits and drizzles.

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