Sides are mainstays at a Labor Day potluck

Joyce Howard, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Entertaining

Just as the main-course proteins such as burgers, barbecue chicken, brisket and ribs are expected at a Labor Day bash, so are the sides.

Sides offer a variety of textures and tastes and very accommodating to the different diets at a potluck party. So if there are vegans, vegetarians, pescetarians and those sensitive to gluten in the mix, there is a side that can made to fit their needs.

For instance, when you think salad, it could be a seafood salad with shrimp, olives and grape tomatoes, a tangy cabbage slaw with rice wine vinegar, a summer orzo with olives, cucumbers and pesto, with or without feta cheese, a bean salad with avocado, grilled corn and red bell pepper or a mayo-mustard based potato salad.

A savory pie could be a side in the form of a quiche, a tart or a slab pie with a filling made with creative combinations. Grains such as quinoa and farro are versatile as they can take on other flavors while retaining their own character. For something hearty, casseroles, mac ‘n’ cheese and gratins are crowd favorites.

So make room on the table for sides as they play a supporting role and more.



PG tested

Your oven does most of the work for this shrimp cocktail platter. Be sure to season liberally with that special seafood seasoning (the one in the yellow tin) and squeeze the most from your lemons onto the roasted shrimp.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon seafood seasoning

For sauce

1/2 cup Heinz chili sauce

1/2 cup ketchup

3 tablespoons prepared horseradish

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Mix with olive oil, salt, pepper and seafood seasoning. Spread shrimp in 1 layer on a sheet pan. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes, just until pink, firm and cooked through. Set aside to cool.

For sauce, combine chili sauce, ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Serve shrimp with sauce.

Serves 6 to 8.

— Adapted from “Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics” by Ina Garten (Clarkson Potter; October 2008)


Quiche is for all, so let’s bring it back. The 1970s sensation has always been a favorite with my family and is quite filling. This recipe, which I got from my late mother, Jayne L. Howard, features mushrooms, shallots and bacon, but I’ve made a similar version with broccoli or spinach.

10 slices center-cut bacon

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, diced

1 large shallot, diced

1/2 teaspoon of Herbs de Provence

Salt and course ground pepper to taste, divided

1 frozen deep-dish pie crust, thawed

2 cups grated Swiss cheese


2 large eggs

12 ounces half-and-half

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line bacon on a a shallow baking sheet, and place in oven and cook for 25 minutes. Let it cool and then dice in cubes. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a medium pan and saute mushrooms and shallot for 10 minutes, or until browned. Add Herbs de Provence, salt and pepper.

Place mushroom mixture in pie crust. Add diced bacon.

Add grated Swiss cheese and gently fold together.

Whisk eggs, half-and-half and nutmeg. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour egg mixture into crust and bake for 30 minutes.

Serves 8.

— Jayne L. Howard


PG tested

Feel free to liberally season your pasta when boiling with salt. Blanch your green vegetables for two minutes in that same water. I adapted the recipe by adding chopped salami and marinated artichokes to the salad. To make it easier on yourself, use your favorite store-bought balsamic vinaigrette for dressing the salad.

12 ounces wagon wheel pasta

1 cup chopped broccoli crows

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 cup carrots, diced

1/3 cup marinated artichoke hearts diced

8 ounces diced mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup sliced salami

1/2 cup canned chickpeas

1/4 cup Italian parsley

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Store-bought balsamic dressing, to taste

Place a large pot of water to boil and liberally add salt. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and let cool,

Meanwhile, mix all the other ingredients, except dressing. Allow them to marinate.

Once pasta cools, stir with marinated mixture. Add balsamic dressing to taste. Chill pasta.

Drizzle more dressing over pasta before serving, if needed.

Serves 8 to 10 as a side.

— Adapted from “Jamie Deen’s Good Food” by Jamie Deen (Kyle Books; September 2015)


blog comments powered by Disqus