This weekend marks the unofficial end of summer, and while the weather may stay hot and humid for a few more weeks, leisurely backyard barbecues and alfresco entertaining will likely wrap up on Labor Day, as back-to-school routines and hectic schedules become all too familiar again. Whether you’re hosting an end-of-season bash or simply spending a relaxing few days with your family, say goodbye to summer with the season’s best eats and drinks. For this weekend’s cookout, FN Dish is sharing Food Network’s best-ever summertime recipes, those tried-and-true classics that are guaranteed to please. Together, these five-star picks from some of your favorite chefs, like Bobby, Alton, the Neelys and Giada, will create the ultimate Labor Day menu, one filled with smoky grilled meat, an easy-to-make side salad and a decadent dessert featuring summer’s sweetest fruits, plus quick appetizers and cocktails to round out the feast.
A platter of Bobby’s Grilled Shrimp Scampi Style with Soy Sauce, Fresh Ginger and Garlic and Alton’s Margarita (pictured right) are ideal party-starters, and these recipes are ready to enjoy in just 15 minutes and five minutes, respectively. To make the glaze for his shrimp, Bobby whirls soy sauce, a splash of lime juice and garlic with a stick of butter in a food processor, then brushes the mixture on the seafood before grilling it. Keep an eye on the shrimp while cooking — they take mere minutes to finish.
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Since today is Labor Day and the unofficial end of grilling season, it’s likely that platters of ribs, hot dogs or burgers will find their way to your picnic table. So how do you maintain a meatless meal when friends and family around you are indulging in meaty main dishes? There are indeed ways to keep your Labor Day menu flavorful, hearty and deliciously meat-free that don’t include eating around the chunks of chicken in the pasta salad or nibbling on fruit and carrot sticks all afternoon.
If you’re attending a backyard bash and the host has requested you bring a dish to share, reach for your favorite meatless one. The Pioneer Woman’s Baked Creamed Corn With Red Bell Peppers and Jalapenos (pictured above) is a five-star recipe from Food Network Magazine that feeds a crowd and can be made with just a handful of ingredients. This potluck-friendly classic is loaded with vegetables and pairs well with traditional cookout fare and meatless items alike.
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This summer, Food Network’s Grilling Central is packed with recipes for the entire family’s taste buds, boasting the best in burgers, dogs, chicken and more all season long. But with so many recipes, where do you start? Each Saturday, FN Dish is giving you a complete menu that is stress-free, and this weekend’s spread is guaranteed to feed a crowd.
If this Labor Day weekend suddenly finds you cooking for a houseful of guests, fear not. We have everything you need to pull off an effortless, enjoyable backyard bash that’s brimming with top-notch dishes. Best of all, our no-fail recipes are a cinch to make, so you can be sure that you, the host, will have as much fun at your party as your guests.
Perhaps the most important part of any summertime soiree is the cocktails, and when it comes to entertaining a crowd, simplicity is key. Now isn’t the time to show off your mixology skills with made-to-order specialty drinks. Instead reach for big-batch cocktails that lend themselves to easy pouring, like Food Network Magazine‘s Red Sangria or Bobby’s White Peach Cocktail. If your guest list includes kids, prepare a pitcher of alcohol-free Mint Limeade, so that they can enjoy frosty glasses, too. Check out Food Network’s roundup of Pitcher-Friendly Drinks for more simple drink ideas.
Get the menu
With Labor Day just around the corner, it’s evident that we need to talk about cocktails. This is summer’s last hurrah! It’s your last three-day weekend for a while, so enjoy every last sip of it.
Try my take on Marcella’s Rosemary-Infused Lemonade to get the party started. This cocktail would make the perfect addition to your party, whether it’s a huge pool party with all of your friends or a casual late-afternoon barbecue on the back patio. Either way, this lemonade makes perfect sense.
So go ahead — whip up a batch or two and have a ball with your closest local pals before school goes back into full gear and fall sets in.
Get my recipe for Spiked Gin Lemonade
Though the unofficial end of summer is just around the corner, there’s still time for one last outdoor party. Make the most of your Labor Day weekend by hosting a backyard cookout for friends or simply barbecuing with family before the kids head back to school and the rush of weeknight activities begins. We’ve rounded up Food Network’s top five Labor Day recipes to help you celebrate the best flavors and ingredients of the season and pull off an easy, enjoyable holiday get-together.
5. Black Bean and Corn Salad – For a quick no-cook side dish, Rachael combines red peppers, vibrant corn and hearty black beans with a light cumin-lime juice dressing.
4. Creamy Dijon-Dill Potato Salad – Make a party-ready potato salad by tossing tender Yukon Golds with crunchy celery and a creamy mayonnaise-mustard mixture that’s finished with fresh dill and bright lemon juice.
Get the top three recipes
Let’s face it: The last thing you should be doing this Labor Day weekend is cooking up a storm in your kitchen. You should utilize recipes that produce a lot of flavor in a small amount of time. These 10 recipes are quick and easy and include options for appetizers, sides, mains and sweet desserts.
The Perfect Lemonade
Food Network Magazine’s Pineapple Salsa
Rachael’s Macho Gazpacho
Recipes for easy sides, mains and desserts »
Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer, and after a long three-month vacation, kids will be heading back to school in just days. Savor these last homework and activity-free days with friends and family, and prepare quick and easy, in-season recipes that can be made in minutes.
Leave it to 30-minute mogul Rachael Ray to concoct an impressive and flavorful burger in just a half hour. Her BBQ Chicken Burgers With Slaw (pictured above) from Food Network are packed with tangy barbecue flavors, including Worcestershire and hot sauces, garlic and grill seasoning. Topped with a mayo-free cabbage slaw, these burgers are not only filling, but healthful as well.
More quick and easy Labor Day recipes »
Enjoy more time with your guests this Labor Day weekend by making these small pies ahead of time; store tightly in a sealed container for up to 1 week.
Get the recipe: Chocolate Whoopie Pies
Browse more of Food Network’s Labor Day dessert recipes.
As a longtime member of Slow Food USA, I wanted to let FN Dish readers know about an important event that kicks off on Labor Day. Slow Food is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.
From the Slow Food folks:
Slow Food USA is organizing a National Day of Action on Labor Day, Sept. 7, 2009. On that day, people in communities across America will gather with their neighbors for Eat-Ins (part potluck, part sit-in) that send a clear message to Congress: It’s time to provide America’s children with real food at school.