Mel x Riverbend: Potato salad with apple, dill & cranberries
the perfect easy potato salad



The Unpretentious potato salad

Sometimes, the best potato salad is the most unpretentious one. The one our aunts and mothers used to make when we were wee ones for summer picnics.

In its most traditional form, well at least in my family, it was a slightly over cooked dish of mayonnaise laden potatoes with a little salt and pepper. It was mushy, saucy & perfectly filling. It left our little tummies round and our faces soft with contentment. In a way, it was a perfect dish from my childhood.

At smorgasbord style family events I would hoard ladle upon ladle of it onto my cardboard plate for fear of missing out when I went for seconds.

easy potato salad for a summer picnic
elevated potato salad recipe with garlic scapes

the potato salad that I now love

Funny thing is, my taste for saucy-mess potato salad has diminished over the years. Perhaps in search of something a little more elevated or in stubborn rebellion against my Canadian-mud roots.

These days, however, when I'm craving of a good plate of familiar comfort food, it resurfaces.

In a desire to make it my own, and to give light to some of the beauty I discovered on my culinary journeys, I've taken it upon myself to add a few twist to this recipe from generations past.

Part of the change is subconscious. A kind of knee jerk reaction, I add things to the mix that I thoroughly enjoy. Cranberry, apple. And part of the change is a newly discovered consciousness of using things that grow & are harvested together. Garlic scapes, dill.

perfect picnic potato salad

the soul of potato salad is in the cooking & the mayonnaise

But the soul of potato salad lays in how the potatoes are cooked & the amount of mayonnaise used. I prefer new potatoes if I can get them, cooked al dente in their skins so that they retain all of their essences. As for mayo, to each her own, but I spike mine in a one third / two third ratio with the best grainy mustard I can get my hands on. Usually from a local lady who makes it in tiny jars and when that fails I reach for the stuff of my childhood, maille.

All in all, potato salad may not be the stuff of fancy hipster dinner parties - yet - but it sure is an unpretentious dish that feeds the soul.


wheat free, meat free, soy free, egg free, vegetarian

2 servings

15-20 fingerling potatoes
¼ C garlic scapes, chopped
½ C dried cranberries
1 apple, chopped
2-3 sprigs of fresh dill
2 T grainy mustard
4 T mayo
Salt & pepper to taste

*edible borage flowers from my garden in decoration only

10 mins prep + 15 mins cook

Place your fingerling potatoes in a large pot, cover with water & add a pinch of salt.
Bring to the boil & cook the potatoes for 15 minutes or until tender enough to pierce with a fork. Don't over cook or you will get a mushy salad.
When they are cooked, remove from the heat & rinse with cold water.
Once cooled, chop into bite size pieces and place in a large bowl.
Chop the apple, dill & garlic scapes and add them along with the cranberries to your potatoes.
Add the mayo & mustard with a pinch of salt & pepper. 
Mix well to make sure everything is coated evenly before serving.
If you leave this salad in the fridge overnight the dill & garlic scapes will become more powerful in flavor.



Keeping fingerling & new potatoes fresh is a matter of storing them properly. I keep mine in the crisper & rotate the bag when I notice moisture accumulation. This seems to keep them fresh for an extended period of time.



Mel x Riverbend: The best carrot top sauce & dip you've ever had.
Carrot top pesto & summer dipping sauce



Putting carrot tops to good use can sometimes be a daunting task. They're a little grassy and quite frankly not to everyone's liking. I get it. I hear you.

However, I had this amazing experience recently that may lead you to believe that even the grassiest parts of the carrot can be transformed into something perfectly charming & utterly delicious.

Don't believe me? Read on.

Are carrot tops edible? Carrot top recipes.
How to eat carrot tops. Simple carrot top recipe.

Carrot top pesto for the win

Recently Tom took me out for date night at one of the city’s best restaurants. I won’t name names but they pride themselves in nose to tail & seasonal fare. They also host an on-farm dinner at Riverbend Gardens. The long and short of it is that, while we were there, we enjoyed a scrumptious six-course meal and one of these dishes featured a carrot top pesto.

It was divine. Truly. My mind was completely blown. It was complex, bright yet rich, vibrant and yet perfectly umami. So, of course, I had to run home and create something inspired by the experience of this dish.


Enter Riverbend Garden’s carrot tops, grana padano & toasted hemp seed dip.

Hemp heart pesto
carrot top pesto with grana padano and hemp hearts

One sauce, two ways.

There are two ways of using this recipe. One is hot and omits the mayonnaise. It's a little more earthy, but it rounds out a pasta dish beautifully. The second is cool and creamy. Using all the ingredients turns it into the perfect salad dressing or a crudité dip. 

Carrot top dip recipe for crudite

wheat free, meat free, egg free, soy free, vegetarian

makes 3 C of sauce

1 C finely chopped carrot tops
1 C hemp hearts
/4 C olive oil
3/4 C finely grated Grana Padano cheese
1/4 C mayonnaise
2 T or more apple cider vinegar

Salt to taste 

15 mins prep

Begin by chopping the carrot tops as small as you can with a knife (like the photo above). 
I break tops off the carrots and chop until I have a full cups worth of chopped greens.
Grab a small pan, place it over medium heat and add your hemp hearts.
Stir every minute or so until the hemp hearts begin to brown. 
Careful here as they go from gold to char rather quickly.
Place them in the bowl of your food processor to cool.
Grate your cheese (Pecorino or Parmegiano would do well here if you don't have Grana Padano on hand)
Add the cheese to the bowl of cooled hemp hearts a long with the chopped greens.
Blend on high until it forms a paste, then slowly add the oil & apple cider vinegar.

You can stop here if you want to use it as a pesto or add in the mayonnaise if you want a pasta salad/bowl sauce or dip.



Pesto of any kind can go bad in the fridge pretty quickly. To keep this from happening store pesto in a jar that has a narrow opening & doesn't house a lot of air. To keep the pesto from oxidizing inside the jar, pour a little olive oil to "seal it in".



Mel × Riverbend Gardens: Dill-icious Beet Salad
Beet, quinoa and dill summer salad with apple cider vinegar dressing - The Nomadic Wife

Hand lettering by Roo Caligraphy

When I sat down to create this recipe I pondered what I love most about beets.
Sure, they are lovely in the most simple ways such as boiled & lightly salted or roasted with some slightly bitter herbs like oregano but what I am truly fond of the most is pickled beets. I love how the tart vinegar and the sweet beets complement each other. I could eat it by the pint.

However, I know it’s not for everyone and there isn’t always time enough to pickle before you want to eat. So, I wanted to create something reminiscent of the best part of pickled beets without all the hassle and time involved.
The tart apple cider vinegar elevates the herbaceous flavor of the dill which in turn is rounded out by the slightly sweet taste of the beets. Perfection.

Easy beet summer salad with dill and apple cider vinegar
Easy Beet Salad with Dill dressing

wheat free, meat free, dairy free, soy free, vegetarian

2 servings

8-10 small beets
½ C quinoa
1 small bunch dill
1 bunch arugula
1 t apple cider vinegar
¼ C sunflower seeds
Olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

10 mins prep + 40 mins cook

Preheat your oven to 400.
Scrub and quarter your beets. Try to get your pieces all roughly the same size.
In a bowl, toss them with a little olive oil, salt & vinegar.
Place them in one layer on a baking sheet and bake them for 20 mins, then give them a stir and put them in for another 20 minutes.
In the meantime, cook your quinoa according to the package.
Let both the quinoa & beets cool for a few minutes, then assemble by layering the beets, quinoa, arugula & seeds.
Sprinkle some dill & a little olive oil over top.


Waste less tip

Dill-icious beet salad stores really well for a couple of days in the fridge as long as you keep the tender arugula separate. You could easily make this on the weekend for weekday lunches.

pickling tip

There is something to be said for the dill & beet combo, especially pickled. If you’re not a huge fan of straight up pickled beets as much as I am, you can slip a little sprig of dill in your pickling liquid to soften that harsh vinegar edge. The fresh herbal notes that come from the dill really bring pickled beets up to a whole new level.


Want to try a few more beet dishes this week? Check out these easy recipes: