Home Cookin'

Summer is a time when we think of barbecues and the potato salads, pasta salads, and summer fun that accompany them. Most salads are popular at reunions and picnics because they are easy to make in large quantities and almost everyone loves them. Potato and pasta salads come in so many varieties. This month, I am sharing a couple of my favorites with you.

First up is Lucy's Best Mustard Potato Salad. Lucy was my grandmother. First, you take enough potatoes to fill a big pot -- remember that we're making a lot for a reunion -- at least 10 good-sized potatoes. Wash them and make sure to scrub them clean with a vegetable scrubber. Now you can do one of two things: you can chop them into bite size pieces and boil, or you can peel them and then chop them up. Choose whichever is your preference. After all, some people don't like the skins left on, however, my family does. Place the chopped potatoes into the pot and cover them with water, and set on the stove to boil. While you are waiting for the potatoes to boil, I suggest washing off 4 to 6 large eggs and placing them in with the potatoes while the water is still cool. Grandma always said kill two birds with one stone!

While you are waiting for those to boil, you can chop up one medium-sized onion into small pieces and set it aside. Also chop about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of celery while you are waiting on the potatoes. Be sure to set your timer for your eggs once the water starts boiling. I like to boil them for a good ten minutes, my grandma always said six minutes but some days six minutes just wasn't quite enough time to get the insides good and done. When the eggs are done, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pot into a bowl to cool in cold water.

Once the potatoes are tender -- you can tell by poking them with a fork -- drain the water off and let them cool in the refrigerator. Crack and peel the cooled eggs and chop them into little bits. You can also use an egg slicer for this by slicing the egg once lengthwise and then holding it together and turning it to slice it across the other direction. It works pretty well this way. You may have to do a little extra chopping with a knife in a bowl to break up some of the bigger pieces. Once the potatoes have cooled, mix in the onions, celery, and eggs. Also add a little salt and pepper, or use Mrs. Dash seasonings (I prefer the table mixture). Then add 2 tablespoons of mustard and 3 heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise. Mix all of the ingredients together and cover the bowl. Store the salad in the refrigerator until you are ready to leave for your reunion. If you need to, add a little bit more mayonnaise and mustard. I prefer to use Miracle Whip myself. For a little more crunch, you can also add some bacon bits to this salad. Also, if you prefer, leave out the mustard or add a little more. Also try Dijon mustard for a little more zest.

Lucy's Best Mustard Potato Salad

  • 10 large potatoes -- washed and chopped (or peeled)
  • 4 - 6 large eggs -- boiled and chopped
  • 1/2-3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 medium onion -- chopped
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 3 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip)

Boil the potatoes until tender; drain and cool. Hard boil the eggs until done; cool, peel and chop. Mix the potatoes with the celery, onions, and chopped eggs. Then mix in the mustard and mayonnaise and mix well until coated and evenly distributed. Chill until ready to serve.

  • Yields: 12+ servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour
My Aunt Marion has a great pasta salad that she makes for every family function. You begin by taking several different types of pasta shapes and colors and cooking them as specified and cooling them in the refrigerator. Then you chop up either a head of broccoli or cauliflower. (That new hybrid "broccliflower" also works great in this recipe.) Core, slice and chop three bell peppers, you can use different colors for a pretty presentation. Chop one medium yellow onion or you could also use a handful of green onions chopped up. Clean and de-string 4 to 5 stalks of celery, then chop. Olives should then be pitted and chopped -- you can use black or green. I prefer the black in this recipe. Then, about five medium-sized tomatoes should be cored and chopped. Shred about a cup of carrots for color. Once all of the vegetables are prepared and the pasta has cooled, mix everything together in a big bowl. Pour a bottle of Italian dressing over the top and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, stir up the salad to redistribute the dressing, and add in shredded or chunks of colby or cheddar cheese. Cover the bowl and store in the refrigerator until you've ready to leave. You can put just about any vegetable in this salad. For a bit more color, slice up some radishes. A unique twist to add to this salad would be some sort of meat -- ham works well. You could also try Italian sausage, fully cooked and cooled before adding. Bacon bits also work well. Experiment until you come up with the taste you prefer.

Italian Pasta Salad

  • Several small packages of various colors and shapes of pasta -- cooked, drained and cooled
  • 1 head of broccoli, cauliflower or broccliflower -- chopped
  • 3 bell peppers, any color -- cored, sliced and chopped
  • 1 medium onion -- chopped
  • Black or green olives -- pitted and chopped
  • 4-5 stalks of celery -- cleaned and chopped
  • 4-5 medium tomatoes -- cored and chopped
  • 8-16 oz. package shredded cheese
  • 1 or 2 bottles Italian dressing
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • sliced radishes (for color)

Cook the pasta per instructions on package, drain and cool. Add in the rest of the vegetables and mix up. Pour the Italian dressing over the top and stir, making sure to coat everything well. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Add in the shredded cheese and mix to redistribute the dressing. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

  • Yields: 12+ servings
  • Preparation Time: Prepare 1 day in advance