Winter is over. There, I said it out loud, so you can blame the May snowstorm on me I don’t care. I’m ready to start grilling on the deck.

To kick off the season, I’m making two classic summer favorites, grilled sausages and potato salad. (Spring missed its chance. We’re moving on to summer.) Not the heavy, mayo-based potato salad, topped with sliced eggs and an overly generous sprinkling of paprika. My potato salad is a lighter, fresher version.

It starts with boiling the baby potatoes just to the point of being tender and lightly smashing them so they break open slightly without breaking apart entirely. They’re then grilled, along with a red pepper and red onion slices, which will also be added to the salad, and one more secret ingredient, a lemon.

If you don’t grill a couple of lemon halves whenever you’re grilling fish, or chicken, or for that matter, a juicy steak, you’re missing out. Juice from a grilled lemon is a touch on the sweet side, with a much more complex flavor than its ungrilled counterpart. In this potato salad, it takes the place of vinegar and lends a subtle sweetness to the potatoes that pairs beautifully with their grilled, smoky flavor. Whole-grain mustard and a handful of chopped parsley round out the dressing.

The result is a delightfully different side dish that’s fresh, light and interesting enough to hold its own with a variety of perfectly grilled sausages.

So, let’s talk sausage. I can never make up my mind when I’m staring at the perfectly lined up rows of fresh sausages in the meat counter of my local grocery store. They all look good, and they’ll all taste great off the grill, so I usually buy a variety.

While grilling sausages is easy, it can go horribly wrong and if you’re not careful, you can wind up with burnt, dry sausages that have managed to explode in the cooking process.

To avoid this sorry outcome, I like to start my raw sausages in a foil pan, along with some beer, and let them simmer away on the grill until they are pretty much cooked. Then, at the last minute, I move them onto the grill and cook them for a few minutes, just long enough to give the casings a nice snap and some attractive grill marks.

The two dishes are a fitting way to start off what should be a beautiful grilling season.


Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at Follow her on Twitter ­at @meredithdeeds.