Enjoy this guest post from my pal Alison over at Post-College Kitchen.
Labor Day marks the traditional conclusion of summer, end of white clothing season and observance of trade and labor organizations and workers. For most of us, this translates to a day off work or school and an excuse for a cookout, right?
Here are three of my favorite easy-to-make foods to bring to an end-of-summer cookout.
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus: This has been my obsession ever since my uncle sent me his recipe almost two years ago. It is so simple and delicious, and paired with some fresh sliced veggies it makes a healthy appetizer that everyone can appreciate.
For the longest time I would make it without the roasted red peppers because they are so expensive at the grocery store, but then I discovered that the Dollar Store carries $1 jars of them. Can’t beat that! The peppers add a nice sweetness to the hummus.
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Makes 1 1/2 – 2 cups
1 can chickpeas, drained (save liquid)
1/4 cup tahini (find in peanut butter aisle)
1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
1/8 cup saved bean juice (plus more to taste)
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
Mix all ingredients in blender or food processor until it forms a thick paste. Add extra bean juice to achieve desired consistency.
Israeli Couscous Salad: This pasta salad puts a refreshing twist on the traditional by using Israeli couscous instead of pasta. I love how it’s light and summery, and it lets you showcase the summer’s best produce one last time.
I think of this recipe as a starting point – add any other fresh vegetables you have on hand and make it your own.
Israeli couscous salad
Makes 4 – 6 servings
2/3 cup dried Israeli couscous
1 teaspoon olive oil
3/4 cup boiling water
1/3 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 scallion, sliced
Handful black olives, sliced (about 1/3 can)
1/2 cup finely diced seedless cucumber, or cucumber with seeds scraped out
1/4 cup Italian dressing
Salt to taste
In a small saucepan over medium heat, sauté dried couscous in 1 teaspoon olive oil until golden brown (about 5 minutes). Add boiling water and bring to a boil before covering and reducing heat to medium low for about 10 to 12 minutes, until water is absorbed and couscous is cooked.
Toss couscous with remaining ingredients and refrigerate until chilled.
Pesto Orzo Salad: This pasta salad is like the cousin of the Israeli Couscous Salad. With sun-dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, basil and pesto, it really embodies summer and is super easy to throw together if you have some pesto handy (I make pesto when the basil is abundant and then freeze single-serving packets so it’s always on hand).
Pesto Orzo Salad
Makes 8 to 10 servings
4 cups cooked orzo, or 2 cups dry
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon prepared pesto [great recipe here: http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/lifestyle/54768212.html]
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
If orzo isn’t cooked, prepare according to package instructions, drain and set aside to cool. Pulse basil leaves and sun-dried tomatoes in food processor until blended. In a large bowl toss together orzo, tomato basil mixture, pesto, olive oil, salt, cheese and tomatoes. Chill at least one hour before serving.
Thanks Alison! Don’t forget to head over to Alison’s blog to check out my Pomegranate Beer Marinade.