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red white blue food

Red, white and blue food at the Purple Onion — strawberries, blueberries, sugar, red peppers, white potatoes, red potatoes, sour cream, red onions, white onions, feta cheese — can be part of a colorful and festive holiday.

It’s coming! It’s just one week away! The unofficial beginning of summer picnics and outdoor dining kicks off Memorial Day weekend.

Maybe some of you have your plans in place and everything set. Maybe some of you are wondering if just a family picnic will be best this year. Maybe, just maybe, some of you NEVER quit grilling and you are deaf to the hype.

Any way you look at it, a good, three-day weekend with family and friends can be a great way to start summer and dining al fresco.

While we have a few days to think and rethink the menu, plan the setting and get ready to enjoy some of the fresh late spring and early summer bounty at our markets, The Purple Onion staff has been thinking about some ways to get the red, white and blue off the bunting and onto the table – in the form of food, not napkins!

Kick off the menu with the strawberry and blue cheese bruschetta. The berry and blue cheese combination will be unexpected and delicious. It’s easy to whip up and a refreshing appetizer to boot.

If you’re transporting it, wait until you arrive at your destination to put it together. The customer who shared this recipe says she is asked to bring it time and time again. So, for all the compliments, you’re welcome!

We’re liking a few twists on all favorites for the picnic mains. Instead of mixing up the same slaw recipe you’ve made for years, give this zesty cucumber and red pepper slaw a try. Spoiler alert: It’s minus the cabbage and the mayo so if you think your picnic partners will expect a traditional slaw for their hot dogs, be sure someone is bringing that one, too. We like the way three types of peppers complement the cool cucumbers in this refreshing make-over.

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As long as you’re going to have the grill going, why not start it a little before the crowd is ready to eat and make this warm red potato salad? The tangy onion and herb vinaigrette that coats this warm salad is reminiscent of German potato salad, just a little lighter.

A customer recently shared this recipe for an old Southern favorite – scalloped tomatoes. Yes, you read that correctly. The tomatoes are baked in a spice-warmed sauce with a buttery layer of white bread slices.

Southern cooking icon Edna Lewis recalls eating scalloped or baked tomatoes. This one is made with fresh tomatoes. Some recipes call for canned instead and are great in the colder months of the year. We don’t think your guests will object if you gild this lily with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese or chopped parsley and basil just before serving.

Finally, we want you to let your dessert shine! The red, white and blue fruit cups and the patriotic trifle are fresh, bright and simple to make. The fruit cups take no time at all and could just as well welcome the start of the weekend at breakfast or brunch. Using a store-bought cake makes the trifle a winner since everything comes together without turning on the stove.

If you don’t have a trifle bowl, don’t be troubled! Any clear glass bowl, even a curved one, can be a lovely way to showcase this dessert. Just give yourself leeway to adjust layers to make it work for you.

We hope you’ll enjoy these recipes soon and all summer!

Allan Hathaway is the owner of The Purple Onion and WV Marketplace at Charleston’s Capitol Market. For more information, visit the web pages at and; or call The Purple Onion at 304-342-4414 and WV Marketplace at 304-720-2244. Email at

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