6 Recipes for Healthy Labor Day Sides

Farmers' Market Salad with Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette

Let’s face it: There’s just a lot going on in the fall. Labor Day marks the unofficial back to school and maybe a change of careers, new home, or launch of a new lifestyle, depending on the person. No holiday save New Year’s Day sparks such a desire for change and revamped habits.

So maybe you wrap up your summer—whether you spent it with hot dogs and beers or tofu and green juice—on a slightly lighter note. Here’s how.

1. Corn Avocado Tomato Salad

Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad

Think of this salad as all your favorite parts of the taco toppings bar, stripped down and refined to their most beautiful elements. This recipe shines a spotlight on juicy seasonal cherry tomatoes, grilled corn, luscious avocado, and slightly salty cotija, a Mexican cheese similar to feta. You can sauté or grill the corn, but it’s just as good raw this time of year. We love this alongside grilled chicken sandwiches.

2. Shaved Zucchini Salad With Lemon and Mint

Depending on where in this country you live, someone is likely shoveling fresh zucchini in your direction (or you’ve grown a bounty in your garden) right around now. Make good use of it in its raw form, so you can appreciate its natural sweetness and silky texture. Our test kitchen loves a good zuke salad, so consider this one, with flakes of Parmesan, lemon, and mint. It’s one of the most cooling things a body can consume.

3. Eggplant, Zucchini and Squash Kabobs

Vegetable Kebabs

When it’s this hot, people will thank you for encouraging them to at least partially fill up on produce. These kabobs are as tasty as they are pretty thanks to a knockout herb sauce guests can apply themselves. Bright and fresh thanks to lemon zest, mint, parsley, lemon juice, capers, and a glug of olive oil, it’s a smart way to add fun to an often ho-hum dish.

4. Grilled Summer Squash with Fresh Mint Vinaigrette

It’s Labor Day. Don’t work too hard. Think: fresh summer squash and zucchini, grilled, tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and mint. Maybe a little rice vinegar for brightness and sesame seeds for texture. That’s it. Fabulous.

5. Farmers’ Market Salad with Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette

Farmers' Market Salad with Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette

All the bounty of the garden, with a thrilling variety of textures, cheese and garlic? What could be better than this salad? It’s just the thing after a long stretch of heavy foods, with zoodles replacing noodles, and fat summer tomatoes doing a lot of the heavy lifting on the flavor front.

6. Summer Beans with Lemon and Almonds

Summer Beans with Lemon and Almonds

A make-ahead salad with a good amount of protein? What could be less laborious, and thus, ideally suited to the holiday? Tarragon and toasted almonds are key to this dish, which transforms ubiquitous summer beans into something downright elegant. This is one of those side dishes you’ll see people sneak seconds and thirds of; you might just follow suit.

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