We plan to celebrate Labor Day the way we always do. We’ll fire up the grill and eat outside. If you’re doing the same, here are some recipe ideas. Pick and choose depending on whether you want to build your menu around the traditional burgers and brats — or whether you’re ready to try an all-new lineup this year.
The main course options — rotisserie ribs, grilled halibut and cannellini bean salad — would satisfy meat lovers and vegetarians. Dessert features chocolate: brownies and madeleines. Both involve baking with extra virgin olive oil instead of butter. You won’t miss the butter. Your heart won’t either.
This dish packs a ton of flavor. The oven-dried tomatoes that top the crostini are easy to make. They take a few hours but require minimal attention. We made this dish recently and the crostini — topped with the oven-dried tomatoes, chopped olives, garlic paste and fresh herbs — flew off the plate.
If you’re squeezed for time and want to capitalize on the abundance of fresh tomatoes, this bruschetta recipe is for you. The bruschetta are topped with fresh basil and tomatoes, some cheese such as feta or gorgonzola, and EVOO. Or dream up your own topping. The variations are endless.
This is one of our most popular recipes. And for good reason: These ribs are fabulous. We’ve cooked them numerous times. You’ll need a rotisserie attachment for your grill. It’s a different take on ribs. “Gone is the heavy smoke taste so prized by pit bosses in the United States,” Steven Raichlen writes in his book How to Grill (Workman Publishing Co., 2001), where these ribs are featured. “In its stead is the crusty succulence you get when you cook a fatty meat in front of a fire.”
Halibut is one of our favorite seafood dishes. And the fennel vinaigrette topping is an excellent accompaniment. You can also use the vinaigrette on rich, oily fish such as tuna, mackerel, sardines and bluefish.
Your vegetarian guests or family members will appreciate this dish. But you don’t have to be a vegetarian to like this bean salad. Our friend Joyce Goldstein, who’s written an entire book on salads entitled Mediterranean Fresh (W.W. Norton & Co., 2008), developed this salad for Yale University’s dining service. Students gave it two thumbs up.
Here’s another way to capitalize on the summer tomato crop. This simple dish has garnered excellent reviews from our readers. The chef who created it, Greg Strickland of Vi near Denver, likes recipes that contain “only a few ingredients.” This dish has only six, including the salt and pepper. It all comes together with a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
This coleslaw would pair well with burgers and brats, or the rotisserie ribs. It features a light, flavorful dressing made from EVOO and Dijon-style mustard. Green onions and mint deliver some extra zing.
These brownies are as rich and chocolate-laden as any brownie we’ve ever had. And without the stick of butter the typical recipe requires. They’d be a great way to top off a picnic or any meal. And a great way to start a conversation about baking with olive oil. (Wait until afterward to surprise your guests about the secret ingredient.)
If you’ve got access to a madeleine pan, this easy dish is for you. Ordinarily, madeleines are made using butter. The pastry chef who developed these substituted EVOO for the butter and added good quality cocoa powder for the chocolate flavor. She noted “the marriage of dark chocolate, extra virgin olive oil and salt is a miraculous one.” Having eaten these madeleines ourselves, we’d agree.
Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch