Labor Day is one of my favorite holidays. It’s three days long, requires no gifts, cards or special decorations, the weather is usually decent, and it comes with big sales and lots of food. What more could you ask?
The trick is to lessen the amount of labor in the kitchen. Here’s a few recipes that get me through the long weekend. Most are old favorites, tried and true. A few of the salads will feed an army or, at least, fill a large mixing bowl.
Mostaccioli Pasta Salad
This is one of my favorite noodle salads. It’s great for this time of the year, when you have extra garden cucumbers on hand. The recipe was given to me by a dear friend, who attended a cooking class years ago. Refrigerate any leftover ’cause it just gets better every day. Warning: HIghly addictive!!
I included the recipe in my cookbook, Christmas at the Mansion, because its wonderful colors and light, tangy dressing make it suitable all year round.
Slaw and barbecue are old friends on the picnic circuit. I lean towards a cabbage-carrot combo with a vinaigrette topping rather than the heavier mayo dressed version. Over the years, I’ve made a slew of slaws, but I’ve finally settled on this one.
Broccoli Apple Salad
Just looking at this photo makes me want to run into the kitchen and start chopping vegetables. (There’s also apples, dried cranberries and nuts to liven up this snappy salad.) The dressing is a mayo/yogurt blend with lemon juice and honey.
Tuna Noodle Salad
Years ago my friend, Ethel, and I attended a wedding reception, where this Tuna Noodle Salad was served. We loved the hearty mixture of noodles, veggies, tuna and cheese and asked for the recipe. After that, we made it many times, always referring to the dish as John’s Wedding Salad.
The marriage didn’t last, but the salad has been a keeper. It’s a flexible salad, that you can add more or less of the ingredients as you prefer. This is a dish that you’ll dip into every time you open the refrigerator door.
This has got to be the easiest, prettiest, and most beloved of summer salads. The dish is on nearly every restaurant menu I’ve seen recently. During post-COVID days, I’ve served it each time I entertained at the farm during the summer.
Start with some wonderful garden fresh tomatoes—any color or shape. Then turn the whole thing over to the kids or the guys—as I often do—to design a pretty platter with the slices of tomato, buffalo mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil leaves. They’ll surprise you at how seriously they take the task. This is a simple, but striking centerpiece for any event.
German Deli Potato Salad
This tangy German Potato Salad gets a warm vinaigrette. No need to worry about it sitting out too long—there’s no mayo.
I include this salad every year in our Thanksgiving buffet at the farm. One year I left it out and my niece fussed at me about the omission. You’d thought I’d forgotten the mashed potatoes, for heaven’s sake! The following year I misplaced the recipe and subbed a different one. She noticed. By the next Thanksgiving, I’d found the recipe! Ahh. . . at last, a happy family gathering. 😉
Chickpea Edmame Salad
Oh, so much goodness in one bowl: corn, green onions, edamame, garbanzo beans, red peppers, and plum tomatoes all lightly marinating in a dressing of lime juice, olive oil, honey, and cumin. This make ahead salad is a healthy, hearty addition to any summer gathering.