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Easy Fall Labor Day Recipes from Appetizer Through Dessert

Read Time: 7 minutes 

 

All summer we’ve been BBQing and eating as many cold and refreshing foods as possible, but as fall approaches, we’re personally looking forward to nourishing seasonal meals.

Since Labor Day is coming up, we’re sharing some of our favorite late summer recipes to celebrate, but these dishes can be easily made any day you feel like it.

They’re packed with nutrition, color, and are simple but elegant — for any occasion, you may be planning with your loved ones for the rest of the year. Combine them all for a memorable dinner event!

Appetizer: Eggplant and Heirloom Tomato Salad (VG, V)

Looking for a salad to kick off a meal with, but want something a little more filling for your first course? Try this eggplant salad made with roasted chickpeas and heirloom tomatoes, plated on top of some mixed greens. It’s packed with color and looks impressive compared to a run-of-the-mill salad.

Serves: 4-5

You’ll Need:

  • 4 cups mixed greens, rinsed
  • 3 cups small heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomato sized or diced if regular sized
  • 2 medium eggplants or 3-4 Japanese eggplants
  • 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, (to grill the eggplant and bake chickpeas)
  • 2 tsp fresh dill or parsley
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Set oven to 350 F and take out a baking sheet.
  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and produce. Quarter cut your lemon.
  3. In a small bowl, coat chickpeas with a drizzle of olive oil (about 1 tbsp), a pinch of salt and pepper, 1 tsp paprika, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Mix well, then pour onto a lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake chickpeas for 12 minutes while doing other prep.
  5. Slice your eggplant into thin planks. To do so, cut in half lengthwise, then continue to make long slices lengthwise. Lightly drizzle olive oil (about 1 tbsp), salt, and pepper to taste on both sides.
  6. Use a grill or a pan on medium-high heat and once heated, place the eggplant slices. Cook for approximately 1-2 minutes on each side. Charred grill lines are preferable for taste and plating.
  7. Slice your tomatoes in half and divide between serving plates. Add eggplant, roasted chickpeas, and another squeeze of lemon juice to each plate.
  8. In a separate small bowl, mix the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and drizzle on the salad.
  9. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle on dill and/or parsley, and serve.

 

Side Dish: Squash and Bacon Casserole (VG optional)

Squash is highly underrated. Whether you use acorn, pumpkin, or butternut, this recipe will satisfy as a side dish, or on its own! Moving away from the summer seasonals like zucchini and yellow squash, the savory-sweetness of butternut is versatile and is kicked up a notch with cheese and bacon. This dish can also be made vegetarian! Just sub out the bacon for plant-based ground sausage.

Serves: 6-8

You’ll Need:

  • 1 package of thick-cut maple bacon (or ½ lb ground plant-based sausage/pork sausage)
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 cup fresh shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or jack cheese
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups of chopped kale (1 bunch)
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced or diced
  • 2 tbsp fresh sage. minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400° and coat a rectangular baking dish with nonstick baking spray.
  2. Cut the butternut squash into four pieces, then peel each piece and cut into medium cubes. Set aside.
  3. Add squash, kale, garlic, sage, and thyme with a drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Toss to combine and pour into an even layer in a pre-greased baking dish.
  4. In a skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes.
  5. Cut cooked bacon into cubes (Or add crumbled sausage, precooked according to package directions, or 7 minutes for pork sausage).
  6. Sprinkle meat over the casserole top evenly. Bake casserole for about 25 minutes, checking intermittently.
  7. Top casserole with 2 cups of cheese in an even layer. In a small bowl, mix breadcrumbs, dried parsley, and 1 tbsp olive oil, then top the casserole with it.
  8. Continue to bake until breadcrumbs are golden brown, and the squash is soft, testing with a knife, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

 

Main: One-Pan Spicy Sesame Maple Salmon with Brussels and Apples

This dish has everything: healthy protein and omega-3s, savory veggies, sweetness from the seasonal apples, and salmon with a spicy zing, all on one sheet pan. Minimal mess and minimal stress. The presentation looks impressive, and you can serve on the table right from the pan.

Serves: 4

You’ll Need:

  • 1 ½ pounds of fresh (not frozen) Atlantic salmon, cut into four filets
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup of maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cups fresh Brussels sprouts, cut in halves
  • 1 medium apple, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 2 tsp fresh sage, minced
  • 1 tsp rosemary, minced
  • 1-2 tbsps. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and coat a large baking sheet with spray or aluminum foil (we like foil because it makes cleaning the pan a lot easier).
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, maple syrup, fresh ginger, cayenne pepper, and a squeeze from a quarter lemon.
  3. Rinse and pat salmon dry then cut into 4 even filets widthwise.
  4. Set filets, skin side up, into the large bowl with the sesame maple marinade. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours, but at least 1 hour.
  5. Rinse all produce. Dice apple, half Brussels sprouts, and slice garlic cloves. Mince fresh sage and rosemary.
  6. Place Brussels sprouts and apples in a second mixing bowl, coat with olive oil, mix in the garlic and sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle in sage and rosemary. Toss to coat evenly, then pour onto a baking sheet, leaving room in the middle for salmon filets.
  7. Bake veggies in the oven for 15-20 minutes, then take out.
  8. Place salmon filets in the middle of the same baking sheet, then put the salmon and veggies back in the oven until the salmon is just cooked through and slightly firm, about 10-15 minutes more.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

  

Dessert: No-Bake Cranberry Cheesecake-in-a-Jar

If you’re tired of the same plain cranberry sauce served at every fall function, or it’s still a little too warm out on Labor Day, try these mini cranberry cheesecake jars. They’re a unique spin on the typical cranberry side dish. You can serve them in small mason jars OR make them in a pie pan…but no baking is necessary! It’s easy, relatively light, and doesn’t require the heat of a stove. What’s not to love?

Serves: 10

You’ll Need:

  • 2 cans cranberry sauce (whole cranberries)
  • 2 cups full-fat cream cheese (blocks not whipped)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups full fat sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt

(for graham cracker crust)

  • 1 ½ cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
  • ⅓ cup white sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Lay out 8-10 small mason jars (4oz).
  2. Crush graham crackers into crumbs in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add sugar, melted butter, and cinnamon to a second bowl, and blend. Add graham cracker crumbs and mix well.
  4. Press graham cracker mixture into the bottom of the jars OR a 9-inch pie pan.
  5. In a third mixing bowl, beat together the softened cream cheese bricks, sour cream or Greek yogurt, sugar substitute, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt.
  6. Add the cold heavy whipping cream into the cheesecake mixture slowly and whip until light and fluffy, 5 minutes.
  7. Spoon the cheesecake filling into the mason jars, halfway up, on top of the graham crust.
  8. Mix the canned cranberries well, then add them to the mason jars.
  9. Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving. Enjoy!