Creative eats for Memorial Day

With warm and sunny weather in the forecast, the cheeseburger birds (Mountain Chickadees) singing their song and the Memorial Day weekend on tap, it’s time to think about food. Whether you are hosting a barbecue, planning a picnic hike or heading to the beach, food is part of the adventure.


“Memorial Day is a time to be grateful for what people have done for our country. It’s also a time to be together and interactive. These dishes are communal and conducive to creating togetherness.” -Tommy Adkins


Hot dogs and burgers are the standard, but I tend to yearn for creative and different. Food that can be handled outside is the test and the sky’s the limit. I recently visited Tommy Adkins, owner of EATS (Ethical And Tastefully Simple) Cooking Company and his wife, Whitby Bierwolf, to taste test a new vegan burger recipe he is working on. His creation is a most unique and delicious veggie burger made with beets. Full of flavor and excellent with a dash of Dijon mustard, this burger has panache. His guacamole was to be reckoned with, as well. Both items are great for a Memorial Day picnic.


Vegan beet burger

For a perfect side accompaniment, Adkins suggests a Salsa Verde Potato Salad prepared with olive oil, cilantro, parsley, basil, horseradish and herbs. The secret he says is a dash of lemon and lemon zest.


Grilled potatoes with lima beans

Adkins says that he loves the idea of paella or cioppino for a Memorial Day menu.

“Memorial Day is a time to be grateful for what people have done for our country. It’s also a time to be together and interactive. These dishes are communal and conducive to creating togetherness,” he says.



Go for seafood or tri-tip
Chef Nick Hernandez of the private chef service The Dinner Bell is also a fan of seafood. His choice is a seafood cocktail with Jonah crab claws, Alaskan king crab, wild shrimp and fresh oysters served with and Old Bay aioli and his homemade cocktail sauce prepared with fresh grated horseradish, Meyers lemon, chili sauce, ketchup and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Hernandez also loves to barbecue Santa Maria Tri-Tip with a rub of paprika, chili and Cajun powder served with a Chimichurri sauce. If you are heading to a potluck, Hernandez suggests a strawberry rhubarb cobbler with vanilla bean crème fraîche.

Both chefs are serving up summer fare at Truckee Thursdays, which starts June 9 in downtown Truckee. Look for Latin food from Hernandez with ceviche, empanadas, roast pork and Arroz con pollo. Adkins is preparing down-home Southern fare with chicken and waffles, burgers, two different vegan burgers and a not-so-Southern Thai noodle boat.


Favorites with a twist
Fun ideas for this summer holiday include a zucchini spaghetti primavera with pesto as a delicious side or main dish for a barbecue or picnic. Pesto can be created a number of ways with lots of twists. It’s fun to get creative: think cilantro, parsley or arugula, for instance. If grilling corn on the cob, try it with pesto, instead of butter, and serve it hot. How about grilled baked potatoes with Montreal and garlic seasoning, olive oil, garlic, salt and cracked pepper served with Ford Hook Lima beans. Fish Tacos are also a different take for your Memorial Day event.

Grilling is synonymous with summer, in addition to chicken, meats and fish, think veggies. There’s nothing more excellent than a grilled vegetable salad.

Cooking creativity abounds in Tahoe in summer. Get outside and have a picnic.


Share your favorite summer recipes at


Priya Hutner is a writer, health and wellness consultant, and natural foods chef. Her business, The Seasoned Sage, focuses on wellness, conscious eating and healthy living. She offers healthy organic meals for her clients. She may be reached at [email protected] or visit Visit to read more.