You may not be feeding a crowd, but that doesn't mean you can't have a Labor Day cookout. These recipes all add a twist to traditional dishes by lightening the potato salad, adding avocado to the mix with corn and throwing a veggie burger on the grill. Ribs and a peachy dessert complete this lineup of five dishes perfect for a summer repast.
Grilled Corn and Avocado Salad With Feta Dressing
Total time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
6 ears corn (about 3 pounds), shucked and silk removed
1 bunch scallions (about 6), trimmed
1 jalapeño, stemmed and halved lengthwise
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, grated
1/4 cup sliced fresh chives
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 medium head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces (about 8 cups)
2 avocados, sliced
Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high. Brush corn, scallions and jalapeño with the oil, and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on the grill, and cook, turning occasionally, until corn kernels are browned in spots, 6 to 8 minutes, and the scallions and jalapeño are charred all over and tender, 9 to 10 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a cutting board, and let cool slightly.
In a medium bowl, using a whisk, mash the feta into a coarse paste. Whisk in buttermilk, lemon zest and juice and garlic, then stir in chives and parsley. Finely chop the charred jalapeño, and stir it into the feta dressing; season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, toss lettuce with half the feta dressing, and arrange on a platter. Cut corn kernels off the cob, and slice scallions into bite-size pieces. Arrange avocado slices, corn and scallions on top of the lettuce. Serve with remaining dressing.
— Sue Li recipe
Lemon Potato Salad With Mint
Total time: 45 minutes
Yield: 8 servings
2 pounds small waxy white or yellow potatoes, roughly about the same size
Juice of 1 lemon, more for serving
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, white and light green parts, more for serving
1/4 cup torn mint leaves, more for serving
1/4 teaspoon Turkish pepper, more for serving
Place whole unpeeled potatoes in a large pot with enough salted water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook until potatoes are just tender, 15 to 25 minutes depending upon size. Drain and cut potatoes into 1 1/2-inch chunks as soon as you can handle them.
In a bowl, whisk together lemon juice, salt and olive oil.
Transfer hot potatoes to a large bowl, and toss with dressing, scallions, mint and Turkish pepper. Let cool to room temperature, or refrigerate until ready to use. Just before serving, top with additional lemon juice, scallions, mint and Turkish pepper.
— Melissa Clark recipe
Peach Pound Cake
Total time: 2 hours, plus cooling
Yield: 1 (9- by 5-inch) cake
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), melted and cooled to room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
3 medium, ripe, red-hued peaches (about 1 pound), pitted (see note)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup unsifted powdered sugar, plus more as needed
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan, and set aside.
Dice 1 peach into 1/3-inch pieces. Pat the pieces dry with a paper towel, and set aside.
Add the remaining 2 peaches and the lemon juice to a food processor or blender, and blend on high until completely puréed. Measure out 1 leveled cup of the purée, and transfer it to a mixing bowl along with the melted butter, eggs, egg yolk and vanilla. Whisk to combine, and set aside.
Completely scrape down the sides of the food processor, and make the icing using the small amount of puréed peaches still remaining: Add 1 cup of the powdered sugar to the remaining peach purée in the food processor, and blend on high until combined. The icing should be thick but thin enough to drizzle. Add more powdered sugar to thicken or a splash of water to thin, as needed. Cover and set aside until it's time to ice the cake.
In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt, and whisk to combine. Pour the peach mixture into the flour mixture, and whisk well until the batter is thoroughly combined, then fold in the diced peaches. Transfer the batter to the loaf pan, spread evenly to the edges, and bake until crusty and golden brown on the top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 75 to 80 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
Stir the icing a final time, and spread it on top of the warm cake, allowing the extra icing to drip down the sides. Cool the cake to room temperature. Slice and serve, or wrap tightly with plastic wrap and store on the counter for up to 3 days.
* Tip: Use the boldest-colored peaches you can find, as their skins will lend blush to the glaze. However, you can also peel the peaches, if you mind the specks of skin.
— Jerrelle Guy recipe
Jamie Oliver's Vegetarian Black Bean Burgers
Total time: 1 hour
Yield: 4 servings
1 1/2 red onions
1/2 pound mixed fresh mushrooms
3 1/2 ounces rye bread, torn into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and roughly mashed with a fork
1 teaspoon ground coriander, plus more for dusting
Kosher salt and black pepper
Olive oil, as needed
2 ounces sharp cheddar, grated (about 1 cup)
4 large brioche rolls, potato rolls or burger buns
4 ounces cherry tomatoes, chopped (about 1 cup)
Chipotle hot sauce, as needed
1 ripe mango
1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup plain yogurt
4 fresh cilantro sprigs
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel and roughly chop 1 onion, then place it in a food processor. Add the mushrooms, and pulse until just finely chopped. (Be careful not to overprocess into a paste.) Transfer mixture to a large bowl, and wipe out the bowl of the food processor. Add torn bread to the processor, pulse until it forms fine crumbs, then transfer crumbs to the mushroom mixture.
Add black beans and coriander, season well with salt and pepper, then mix together until thoroughly combined. Divide into 4 equal portions, and shape into 1-inch-thick patties. Rub all over with oil and dust with ground coriander, then place on an oiled baking sheet.
Roast patties until dark and crisp, 35 to 45 minutes. Sprinkle the burgers with the cheddar. Let burgers cool slightly to firm up. While the burgers cool, transfer the buns to the hot oven, and heat for a few minutes until toasted.
Meanwhile, peel and very finely chop the remaining 1/2 onion. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the tomatoes. Zest the lime on top, then halve the lime and squeeze lime juice on top, to taste. Add a few shakes of hot sauce, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pit, peel and finely slice the mango and avocado.
Spread the yogurt on the bases of the rolls or buns, then top with half the salsa, the mango and the avocado. Add the burgers, the remaining salsa, extra Tabasco and cilantro leaves, then pop the lids on, press down lightly and serve immediately.
Grilled Baby Back Ribs
Total time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
1 cup barbecue sauce
2 racks baby back pork ribs, about 2 1/4 pounds each
Salt and pepper, to taste
Build a fire in your grill, leaving one side free of coals. When coals are covered with gray ash and the temperature is medium (you can hold your hand 5 inches above the coals for 5 to 7 seconds), you are ready to cook. (For a gas grill, turn all burners to high, lower cover and heat for 15 minutes, then turn burners to medium.)
Meanwhile, combine barbecue sauce with 1 cup water, and stir to combine. Set aside.
Sprinkle the ribs generously with salt and pepper, put them on the grill directly over the coals and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, turning once every 5 minutes or so, and basting with the thinned barbecue sauce, until a peek inside shows that the meat no longer has any pink at the center.
Take the racks of ribs off the grill, cut them into individual ribs and serve.
— Sam Sifton recipe