Celebrity Chef Claire Thomas’ Perfect Memorial Day Menu

Caroline McCloskey

Ah Memorial Day weekend—the weather is warming up, the pools are opening—summer is officially off. And nothing is quite as synonymous with celebrating Memorial Day quite like a celebration outside with a lot of food (and we mean a lot of food).
This year why not elevate your traditional Memorial Day feast? With that in mind we enlisted the help of celebrated chef Claire Thomas, author of the blog The Kitchy Kitchen and a book by the same name, as well as the go-to private chef for everyone from actress Emma Roberts to designer Jenni Kayne.
From delicious appetizers like watermelon salad to a peaches and s’mores dessert that will have your mouth-watering in no time, we can’t wait to get cooking this weekend using Thomas’ recipes.
Spicy Grilled Pea Pods with Chili Soy Glaze with Mint
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“Edamame is a ubiquitous pre-sushi snack,” Thomas says. “It’s basically a vehicle for soy sauce, which if you’re a salt lover like me, means you love edamame. Sucking on a soy sauce soaked pod is up there with dunking ginger in soy sauce and devouring that. Now I want sushi. But back to the pea pods…These are an edamame spin on peas, but with the added kick of shichimi heat (a Japanese chili powder), a hint of sweetness, and fresh mint to finish it off.  These are the perfect appetizer for a grill out.  Just mound them on a plate and let the guests go to town!” Click here for the recipe.
Watermelon Tomato Goat Cheese and Chili Salad
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“Watermelon is one of my all time favorite things,” Thomas shared. “Sweet and crisp, juicy but never cloying, it’s quite possibly the perfect summer snack. It wasn’t until recently that the whole ‘savory watermelon’ thing occurred to me. There’s pickled watermelon rind in the south, small chunks tucked away in spicy latin ceviches, and that feta salad that I’ve had at practically every barbecue this summer. And this is my version. The sweet crispness of the watermelon, along with the juicy acidity of the tomatoes pairs beautifully with the goat cheese. You could pop feta in there too, basically any cheese that has a dense, chalky texture and a fresh, almost briny flavor. The salty and creamy thing in the cheese is dynamite with the watermelon, and with a subtle kick of chili, it’s the perfect salty, creamy, sweet, tart, crunchy, spicy combination.” Click here for the recipe.
Asparagus Potato Salad with Tarragon Salsa Verde
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“Potato salad can be such a sad, beige affair, so I spiced mine up with a bright and fresh tarragon and cilantro salsa verde and tender asparagus,” Thomas says. “It’s the perfect light side to the heartiest barbecue.” Click here for the recipe. 
Grilled Corn with Honey, Lime and Ancho Chili Butter
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“Grilled sweet corn is one of the staples of summer, and the slightly sweet and spicy butter only brings out its delicious and delicate flavor,” Thomas shared. Click here for the recipe.
Grilled Asparagus with Chili, Truffle Oil, and Parmigiano
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“Truffle oil is one of those ingredients that’s a bit precious, but oh man does it taste good,” Thomas says. “A few drops go a long way and add an instant richness and pungency to any dish. But if you don’t have any on hand, no worries! This dish is delicious sans truffle oil too. Try this combination on your favorite veggies for grilling. Enjoy!” Click here for the recipe.
Grilled Steak Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette and Cotija Cheese
“I love the flavor grilling brings to a dish, and with this salad I chose to not only grill the steak, but practically everything else in there,” Thomas shared. “Grilling red onion brings out its natural sweetness, grilling romaine adds depth to the crisp and sweet lettuce, and the cotija cheese and cilantro lime vinaigrette add a nice kick to the whole thing.” Click here for the recipe.
“Fire is such a wonderful, transformative thing,” Thomas says. “At first glance, singeing something as perfect as a ripe summer peach seems sacrilege, but then you taste it, and then you add a marshmallow because why the hell not. The burnt sugar with a hint of spice, the acid of the yellow peach against the saccharine marshmallow, it all works somehow and is my new campfire favorite. Smeaches. Smores and peaches. It’s a pretty obvious pun, so you probably didn’t need that explained, but whatever, smeaches it is.” Click here for the recipe.
Summer Apple Dulcet
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“Now this is what I want to gulp down on a hot summer’s day,” Thomas says. “The apple cider, mint, and bourbon make a refreshing combination, especially since they’re not laden down with sugar, like in a mint julep or even lemonade. I was drawn to this recipe by the charming word ‘dulcet,’ meaning ‘sweet and soothing.’ This is a shaker recipe originally, but I put a little boozy twist on my version. Here’s hoping you find it ‘sweet and soothing’ too!” Click here for the recipe.
All photos courtesy of The Kitchy Kitchen.
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