If there is a bad thing about long holiday weekends, it is that they too often becomes laborious. Somehow we’re stuck in traffic, the kids are screaming, the flight is delayed, and you feel a million miles away from a corn salad and rib eye like those shown here.
If you’re staying put this year, consider letting that simplistic approach apply to the food, too. Traveling? The rules can still apply. Truly take the labor out of the holiday. Fresh peppers on the grill; raw corn salads; big grilled steaks; punch for a crowd. Can you do less? You can do less. Here’s how.
1. Blistered Padron Peppers with Sea Salt
There are few simpler ways to kick off a grill menu than with a charred tangle of Spanish padrón peppers accented with lemon and a sprinkling of sea salt. Easily prepared in a stove-top grill pan, the thumb-size peppers can also be roasted over an open flame, in a grill basket, or right on the grill rack. Padrón peppers tend to be sweet and mild, although occasionally you’ll discover one that’s fairly spicy, which only adds to the fun of eating them. Serve a heap of these addictive peppers, dusted with flaky salt, on a rustic board. Use a good-quality flake sea salt such as Jacobsen or Maldon, which add both exceptional mineral flavor and a pleasing crunch.
When it’s this hot, lead with fruits, vegetables and liquids. What better to wash down fruity tomato bruschetta than fruity rosé sangria? Brimming with peaches and berries, it’s the make-ahead, big-batch cocktail of your dreams. Lillet and cranberry add unexpected bright notes to the base of rosé wine, raspberries and stone fruit. You can even add lime slices or strawberries for more flavor and color.
Those of us who love pasta salad adore it not only for its bright, creamy flavors, but for its dead-easy preparation. This recipe is simply killer. Capers, pickles and pickle juice contribute piquant notes; mayonnaise and sour cream deliver all the creaminess you’re craving; chives add freshness; pimiento-stuffed olives add an unexpected twang. Pasta salad, folks: There’s a reason you always see it on Labor Day.
Craving something heftier than pasta salad? Allow us to introduce you to our beloved beans-and-pork side dish. It’s got white beans, bacon and pork shoulder, and you can cook ’em all in the slow cooker before the big day and just bust them out as though you’d been slaving over them all morning. How’s that for labor-free?
Your aunt showed up with 20 bruised peaches. Or your CSA just delivered four pounds of cherries. It’s a good problem to have, and our foolproof DIY summer fruit dessert chart will guide you to the end of the rainbow of stone fruit options to the bubbling, sweet dessert of your summer daydreams. It’s so much easier than you’d think to transform good fruit into the crisp, crumble, cobbler, or slab pie you crave (and deserve).
For some, it’s not “summer” until you’ve had a steak hot off the grill. Same goes for corn. Make both, in one fell swoop, and don’t let the ingredients list for this recipe dissuade you. It’s easy to rub a chipotle paste over a steak and grill it, and you can re-use the paste for other meats for up to a week. Grilled corn is as simple as you remember, and it’s easy to pull off even after a few glasses of that rosé punch.
Have a labor-free Labor Day, folks!