The Meal Plan

Bring The Healthy: Labor Day Sides From The Garden

Bring on the cheeseburgers and sausages, the chicken, fish and steak with Instagram-worthy grill marks. Whatever the main event of your Labor Day feast is, make sure you balance it all out with these produce-heavy Labor Day sides. Bursting with all the flavors of summer, these are the hearty, satisfying dishes that will complete your party spread.

Recipe: Filo Ratatouille Samosas

A friendly tomato twist on the favorite samosa. Once you’ve mastered the folding method, you’ll be making them in your sleep.

This delicious potato salad recipe is fortified with extra-healthy sprouted mung beans.

Recipe: Potato Salad With Sprouted Mung Beans

This recipe is my style of potato salad: Tangy with rich yogurt, crunchy with sprouted mung beans, bright with cilantro and red onion. Fried black mustard seeds, a staple in Indian cooking, taste like toasty popcorn with a slightly bitter, mustard aftertaste. They are one of my favorite spice additions, worth exploring on top of steamed rice and as a garnish on soups.

You know what your savory zucchini bread recipe needs? Extra cheese.

Recipe: Cheesy Zucchini And Olive Bread

This isn’t your ordinary zucchini bread. It’s savory rather than sweet — a departure from typical breakfast breads, which err in the opposite direction. Treat the dough like you do the kids on your very best day: with a gentle hand. Quick breads don’t like an aggressive baker, so stir the batter enough to make the ingredients come together but no more. The payoff will be a golden loaf with a tender crumb punctuated by nuggets of cheese and salty olives. Cut it into generous slices, and get it warm and crusty in the toaster.

Sweet, slightly better, 100% satisfying. This carrot and radicchio salad is a great way to switch up your greens game.

Recipe: Carrot And Radicchio Salad With Feta-Pistachio Dressing

Many years ago, my friend showed me how to make pesto with pistachios and it was one of the best things I ever tasted. Here, we use pistachios to make a thick, creamy, nutty dressing. Paired with the sweetness of the carrots and the slight bitterness of the radicchio leaves, you’ll be in heaven.

Learn this giant hasselback potato recipe and never wonder what to do with spuds again.

Recipe: Garlicky, Cheesy, Giant Hasselback Potatoes

There is hardly anything cosier than a baked potato. It’s all in the simple perfection of it: crispy, golden skin, encasing a fluffy, buttery interior. Whether served with baked beans, cheese, or whatever else you prefer, it is a staple — something we may take for granted until the moment we dig in again, when the troubles of the outside world are silenced, even if only for a moment. This version marries my favorite spud preparation — hasselback potatoes from Sweden — with those buttery beauties that I’ve relied on for decades.

Pop these seasonal tomatoes in the oven with a little citrus and fresh herbs for a simple, flavor-packed side dish.

Recipe: Roast Tomatoes With Lemon Thyme

I can’t remember what led me to this idea, but I’m so glad I tried it. I had always been a bit either/or with tomatoes and lemons but this is a revelation – the lemon sweetens and caramelizes in a very different way from the tomatoes and they complement one another perfectly. These are wonderful with grilled fish or steak, or just folded through some pasta.

Use sweet, tender pearl onions to their most delicious potential in this savory tart.

Recipe: Pearl Onion Tarte Tatin

Before you start, place your raw onions in the skillet and make sure that they fit very snugly. They will shrink a bit as they cook, so if you start with a slightly crowded pan, you’ll end up with perfect coverage. We usually make this with a mix of onion types, so there’s some pretty variation in color even as they caramelize. Likewise, we call for white balsamic vinegar, as regular balsamic will darken the onions more than we like. Serve this with a crisp, sharp salad and maybe a cup of soup.

Looking for a vibrant new gluten-free grain side dish? Look no further than this tangy buckwheat salad!

Recipe: Tangy Buckwheat Salad With Barberries

Inspiration for this salad came from a very traditional Jewish dish called kasha varnishkes. Otherwise known as buckwheat, kasha is a gluten-free grain similar in appearance to freekeh and offers a protein-rich alternative to carb-heavy grains such as couscous or rice. Its nutty flavor lends itself really well to this powerful dressing.

Give these meaty mushrooms the tandoori treatment and feed your vegan crowd right!

Recipe: Tandoori Portobellos

This main looks deceptively meaty on the plate, and it satisfies on the same level. I buy a tandoori spice mixture from a local company, and the intense spicy flavor of it meets its match with rich, unctuous portobello mushrooms cooked on the grill. The cool cilantro sauce offers a creamy counterpoint and is entirely sunflower-seed based. Cashews tend to be the go-to for creamy vegan sauces, but I find sunflower seeds to be just as effective, and as a bonus, they’re typically more affordable.

BBQ carrots with ranch may not be straight out of the pitmaster’s handbook, but they’ll hit the spot.

Recipe: Lucky Peach‘s BBQ Carrots With Ranch

Marc Vetri is one of America’s most masterful masters of authentic Italian cuisine. But here, he shows off his ability to put the CLASS in TRASH instead. Okay, admittedly, he makes his own barbecue sauce and I’m telling you to buy KC Masterpiece (or another similar/preferred bottled sauce) because I’m pro-ease.