It seems funny to cook like a mad thing on Labor Day, which is set aside as a time to honor the labor force. So, don’t, I say. Labor not.

As we move into fall, with tailgating, rustic picnics, chillier weather, and usually a faster pace, with school and encroaching holidays, it’s time to make things that are simple.

Here’s a menu that requires little labor, a minimum of planning, and quick cooking.

Little Labor Menu

Any meat you can throw on the grill (or a veggie burger) – we had Italian sausages, hot dogs, and burgers.
Little Labor Pasta Salad – this is a throw back to the variety we made back in the late ’80s (see recipe, following).
Quickly blanched green beans tossed in kosher salt and butter.
Marcelled (wavy) potato chips.* Read the explanation for the origin of this term. It’s fun.
Light side – here, it’s sliced watermelon. See options.**
Frozen pie – baked at 300º for an hour and a half (see Back Then: Peach Pie recipe from this blog site or just buy one and follow the directions).

Little Labor Pasta Salad
1 lb Farfelle (bowtie) pasta
1 c chopped orange, red, and yellow peppers
1 c chopped English cucumber, peeled
1 c chopped red onion
1 can drained chick peas
1 c feta (or goat) cheese, crumbled
1 bottle of your best balsamic dressing or make this dressing: 1/4 c balsamic vinegar, 2 cloves garlic (crushed), 2 T fresh lemon juice,  2 T chopped fresh basil, 3/4-1 c extra virgin olive oil. Whisk all.

Cook pasta according to directions (don’t overcook – really limp pasta will not hold up to all your veggies). Rough chop your vegetables. Toss all with dressing.

The 1980’s version of pasta salad called for a couple of tablespoons of McCormick salad seasoningmccormick salad seasoning and a bottle of Creamy Italian dressing. We also added chucks of salami or beef stick (if you buy salami from the deli, purchase it unsliced and make your own 1″ cubes).

If this calls to you, go right ahead. It’s just labor I’m trying to save here, not your taste buds.


*Marcelled potato chips are actually referencing women’s hairstyles in the 1920’s, when bobs with waves were in. marcelledWe call them wavy chips now (the thicker, the better!), but I just like words, don’t you?


**Options: As the season moves on, you’ll get creative with your light side dishes. Resist the urge to go into your heavier dishes until later. Time enough for that in November….try a plate of sliced celery and herbed goat cheese, leaving the salad cheese off the menu. Maybe add a selection of olives.