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Food52’s Left-Field Labor Day Dishes

In some ways, Labor Day is the perfect long weekend: full of cookouts, trips to the pool, lazy afternoons, and, of course, plenty of good food. But depending on what part of the country you live in, you just might feel the first autumn crispness in the air. Once the weekend’s over, it’s full-force towards fall, which is all the more reason to celebrate the flavors of summer before it’s hat-and-scarf season. Make these crowd-pleasing, super-fresh dishes and hold on to summer as long as you can.


Photo by Sarah Shatz

Recipe: Summer Farro Salad

This salad is great as a side dish or one-dish meal. Start by cooking the farro with red onion, parsley and a clove of garlic, which will all perfume the grains with the aromatics as they cook. Juicy tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and briny Kalamatas break up any potential monotony, and, along with diced red onion and fresh herbs, keep the dish from feeling heavy. For the dressing, a tangy vinaigrette is the perfect accompaniment to rich, nutty farro.

Photo by James Ransom

Recipe: Summer Weekend Pasta

What better way to eat summer squash than nestled in orecchiette’s little cups? The base of the dish is bacon, of course, with a pinch of red pepper flakes and a smashed garlic clove for oomph. And the addition of fresh-scraped corn kernels and chopped basil underlines the sweetness and freshness of the dish. The dish is part vegetable, part pasta -- buoyant, bright, and just what you’re craving on a steamy summer evening.

Photo by Beth Kirby

Recipe: Chilled Tomato Peach Soup

Heirloom tomatoes and peaches combine with simple aromatics -- shallots, thyme, garlic -- to create a tomato soup as creamy as that canned, condensed version, but about a million times more wholesome and appealing. A pinch of cayenne offsets the sweetness of the fruit, while a dose of cream ensures a silky texture. Add a little freshly poached shrimp or crabmeat and it's a full-fledged meal.

Photo by Sarah Shatz

Recipe: Zucchini Pancakes

The best way to eat these pancakes is straight from the pan with a dab of Greek yogurt. A little grated potato binds the cakes and gives them the crispness of latkes, while the zucchini is fresh and lively, perfumed with lemon zest and parsley. Soak up any extra moisture from the potatoes and zucchini with a towel and you’ll have crisp, light pancakes that everyone will love.

Photo by Jennifer Causey

Recipe: Boozy Watermelon Rosemary Lemonade

This tart, pink cocktail is a burst of summer in a glass. You don't strain the watermelon puree, which gives the drink some texture, and gin, rather than vodka, makes for a much more exciting libation. The mineral quality of the gin is echoed in the rosemary-infused syrup, which announces its presence clearly, but without hijacking the whole flavor profile. Serve this over plenty of ice in Mason jars.

Photo by James Ransom

Recipe: Perfect Peach-Blueberry Pandowdy

Meet pandowdy, pie's less beautiful -- but more laid-back -- cousin. You’ll love its bubbling, not-too-sweet fruit filling, its flaky, cookie-like crust that comes together without fuss, and that it serves a crowd but only dirties one dish. Make the filling from the freshest fruit you can get your hands on.

What are your favorite foods to eat on Labor Day? Share your comments below!