Labor Day recipes

Labor Day recipes

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Labor Day recipes

Learn how to make a Lemontini for National Martini Day. Madeline Ference/NorthJersey.com via Wochit

Labor Day weekend is almost upon us, and while that means back-to-school shopping and the first hints of leaves turning colors, it also means celebrating the end of summer with family and friends in the last few days of warm weather. And while you can’t go wrong with burgers and hot dogs and salad and ice cream, here are a few different spins on those old favorites that make this traditional farewell to summer a little more delicious.

For the main course, swap out grilled steak for some fun steak and cherry tomato skewers. Not only do you get to add those last sweet local tomatoes to the mix, but you and your fellow diners can eat straight from the skewer – no cutlery required. And speaking of getting tomatoes into the action, try swapping out the traditional hamburger roll for a tomato bun. This is a delightfully messy, juicy way to enjoy a burger with less carbs.

Watermelon is always a summer favorite, so mix it up by trying a sweet and salty salad of melon tossed with creamy burrata cheese and a hint of red pepper and mint. And since there must be ice cream, turn that pint of vanilla into a summertime treat by lacing it with some blueberry jam. Enjoy these last lazy, hazy days.

Steak and Cherry Tomato Skewers

1 teaspoon chili powder

I teaspoon mustard powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon cumin

1 pound sirloin or filet steak, cut into cubes

1 pint cherry tomatoes

Canola oil for basting

If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water for about 15 minutes. Heat the grill to high.

Mix all the spices together and put them in a bowl with the steak cubes. Stir until the cubes are coated with spices.

Thread the skewers with steak cubes alternated with cherry tomatoes and brush with a little oil.

Grill for 3-4 minutes total for medium rare and serve! (If you have used metal skewers, it's best to remove the steak and potatoes first before serving, as it takes metal skewers a while to cool down.)

Serves: 3-4

Tomato Bun Burgers

4 heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes

1 pound ground beef

Salt and pepper

Your favorite burger toppings (mayo, lettuce, pickle, etc!)

Cut a 1-inch slice off the top and bottom of each tomato and place on a paper towel to drain a little. Save the middle to use in something else (chop them up for salads, etc.).

Toss the beef with a little salt and pepper and form into patties. Heat a griddle or pan to high and cook for 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare (longer if you like your burgers well done.

Spread the tomato slice tops and bottoms with mayo and/or other toppings. Place a burger on each tomato bun bottom, and cover with tomato tops.

Take a big bite, and have napkins ready - these are juicy!

Serves: 4

Watermelon Burrata Salad

2 cups cubed watermelon

1 large ball of burrata cheese

½ cup basil leaves, chopped

½ cup mint leaves, chopped

Olive oil for drizzling

Red pepper flakes

Gently toss melon and herbs and divide between two plates.

Cut the burrata in half and pull it into bite sized pieces, nestling the pieces into the melon cubes.

Drizzle with olive oil and scatter some red pepper flakes on top.

Serves 3-4

Shortcut Blueberry Ice Cream

1 pint of your favorite vanilla ice cream

¼ to ½ cup blueberry jam, depending on how blueberry you like things!

Put a pint of vanilla ice cream in the refrigerator (not the freezer) for an hour to soften.

Scoop the soft ice cream into a loaf pan or a medium size mixing bowl and stir so that it is all the same consistency.

Drop spoonfuls of jam on top of the softened ice cream and swirl with a knife until you have ribbons and streaks of jam throughout. Don't stir too much -- you want nice swirls of blueberry.

Cover the pan or bowl with plastic wrap and put into the freezer to freeze back up. Overnight is best for this.

When it is frozen back to ice cream consistency, scoop and serve!

Makes: 1 pint

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