Allergy-Friendly Recipes

Ham ‘n “Cheeze” Potato Salad

Guest post from Joel and Mary Schaefer

Summer, summer! Oh, what a wonderful time for family and friends to get together and enjoy a meal in the beautiful outdoors. Are you hesitant about accepting such an invitation because of food allergies? This doesn’t have to be the case just because you or your child has an allergy. Preparing safely for this event is the key to allowing you to celebrate with family and friends and enjoy this relaxing time. This simple potato salad is perfect for a picnic, a complete meal in a jar.

Color Coding to Help Eliminate Cross-Contact and Cross-Contamination

Before we get started, let’s talk a little about food safety. Safety is always top priority in any kitchen, whether at home or in a restaurant. Did you know that several companies have introduced a line of purple products to help restaurants implement allergen programs? This purple color designates that the specific tool or piece of cookware is NOT to be used with an allergen. These products can also be used at home in creating your allergy safety zone.

Cross -contact can lead to allergic reactions. Cross-contamination can lead to food poisoning.

The FDA set forth a guideline on the colors for cutting boards used in the industry. Keeping these boards separate is one step in eliminating cross contact and cross contamination in the kitchen.

Green – used only for produce

Red – raw meat

Yellow – raw poultry

Blue – raw seafood

White – dairy

Brown – cooked meat

Purple – allergens

Allergy Awareness and Food Transportation

In preparing for your special picnic or get together, be sure all in attendance know who in your family has an allergy. How will you transport your meal? We suggest providing a separate insulated tote bag for the allergy-friendly food. For the Mason jar, we found an adorable purple lid with a handle, just another reminder that this product is allergy-friendly.

Let’s get cooking!

First, we need to do our shopping and choose our potatoes. Potatoes are classified as “waxy” or “starchy”. In this recipe, we don’t want to use starchy potatoes, such as russet or all-purpose, because they will not hold their shape. Waxy potatoes, such as red-skinned, white and yellow, hold their shape well when cooked. We’ve chosen red potatoes.

It’s important to remember these two key points about potatoes. Boiled potatoes are started in cold water. This allows for more even cooking. Potatoes are never cooled in cold water, unlike most vegetables, as this would make them soggy.

Let’s prepare our mise en place. Mise en place is a French term meaning “put in place” or “everything in place.” It’s all the preparation and organization that takes place before actual cooking begins. We have prepped and measured out our ingredients.

Have fun cooking and make your summer picnics safe with this potato salad in a jar.


Ham ‘n “Cheeze” Potato Salad
Ham and “cheeze” add a delicious twist to this traditional salad. Make your summer picnics safe with this summer “yum” in a jar.

Makes: 6 servings

Free of: the top 8 allergens & gluten


2 pounds red skin potatoes

2 tsp salt, divided (1 tsp + 1 tsp)

¼ cup diced celery

¼ cup minced red onion, soaked in cold or ice water for 15 minutes and drained

¼ cup chopped sweet pickle or sweet pickle relish

1 cup frozen peas, thawed – optional

1 cup eggless mayonnaise

½ tsp celery seed

1 tbsp yellow mustard

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

¼ tsp black pepper

1 ½ cups red or green seedless grapes, halved

1 ½ cups cubed ham, approximately 8 ounces

2 cups cheddar-style dairy-free “cheeze” shreds, approximately 6 ounces


  1. Wash potatoes. You can peel or leave the skin on. Cut into ½-inch cubes (medium dice). Place in a large saucepan filled with cold water and the first salt. Bring to a boil. Skim the foam (created from starches from potato) that rises to the top. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered for 5-10 minutes, until tender. Drain and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to a baking pan lined with parchment and spread out the potatoes. When cool, transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Add celery, onion, sweet pickle, and peas, if using.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, celery seed, mustard, vinegar, second salt and pepper. Add mayonnaise mixture to potatoes. Toss gently to coat the potatoes. Cover and chill thoroughly.
  4. To assemble the salad, layer the salad into the jars, starting with the red grapes, potato salad, and cubed ham. Next layer additional potato salad. Finish with the cheddar-style shreds. Seal the jar and refrigerate until ready to eat.

Recipe Notes:

  • Soaking the onions in cold water mellows out their flavor. The sulfur compounds which cause the harsh flavor and powerful aftertaste dissipates into the cold water.
  • We used a 32-ounce jar, which is enough for 2 servings.
  • If you prefer, you can toss the ham, “cheeze”, and grapes with the salad.

Make Mine Veggie!

Our vegan version is a Broccoli-Cheddar Potato Salad. Following the above recipe, omit the ham, peas, and grapes. Add 1 ½ cups of broccoli that has been steamed, chopped, and cooled.


For other tips on how to stay safe this summer, visit


Joel and Mary Schaefer are professional chefs and authors who help people with food allergies and special diets navigate the restaurant scene and create delicious meals at home. Look for their blog,, coming this August.


4 thoughts on “Ham ‘n “Cheeze” Potato Salad

  1. Confused, the article indicates that purple would be for use with allergens, which would mean putting the nasty 8 in a purple zone. But then the author is using purple for allergy free products.

    1. We understand your confusion. The FDA and many manufacturing companies of the purple board refer to it as the “allergen” cutting board. You have a very good point – the purple board should be called the “no allergen” cutting board. After all, it is meant for preparing foods free from the top 8 allergens. Thank you for your comment. We will be sure to clarify that when talking about the purple board and containers in the future.

  2. Very informative. I didn’t know that potatoes could be either “waxy” or “starchy”.
    I’ll have to try this next time I bring in lunch and can’t find a microwave.

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