Labor Day weekend is almost upon us, and you might find yourself in the position of hosting or attending one last summer dinner party, barbecue, or porch hang. But we’re also in the languid depths of the season’s end, so if you, like us, are trying to maximize the deliciousness and minimize the stress of entertaining, look no further. Among the menu suggestions below, there are plenty of ideas for making good use of those late-summer tomatoes (see also: the best summer tomato recipes) and sweet corn, but also outside-the-box ideas for mains, and even a baking project to make the most of the holiday weekend.
Rachel Gurjar, Bon Appétit
This recipe is a winner on several levels, starting with its super-approachable ingredient list — besides the fish itself, it’s pretty much pantry basics, down to the canned tomatoes — as well as its versatility as a dairy-free, meat-free, one-pot affair. My husband Daniel (who handles all the cooking around here) made just a few adjustments, swapping in powdered cumin for cumin seeds (again, pantry basics!) and adding turmeric and coriander for good measure. It’s a nice, light, flavorful dish that captures that late-summer tomato vibe — and if you’re planning on entertaining this Labor Day weekend, it’s an impressive one that is easier to make than it looks. — Ellie Krupnick, director of editorial operations
Kay Chun, NYT Cooking
I love elotes, but as a New Yorker I do not have a backyard with a grill (ok I do have a grill on our balcony which may or may not be legal, don’t snitch). Anyway, grilling is an ordeal, which makes this esquites — basically elotes off the cob — recipe an incredible way to use up your sweet summer corn if you don’t have access to a grill, or if you’d just rather not spend all night flossing. Even though it’s full of cheese and mayo, none of it overpowers the charred, bursting corn kernels, which are all I want to eat at the end of summer. I also added some crumbled Flamin’ Hot Cheetos as a garnish for extra color, kick, and just to say I put Flamin’ Hot Cheetos on them. — Jaya Saxena, staff writer
Adapted from janssushibar.com
I found this recipe years ago on a now-defunct cooking blog called Jan’s Sushi Bar, but it’s easy enough to duplicate and tweak. Slice up three tomatoes, a pound of cantaloupe or watermelon (or both), a large cucumber, and half a red onion. (Mango would probably also be good, or any other summery fruit you prefer.) Whisk together 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, some salt and pepper, and pour it over the chopped fruit. Let it sit for a few hours in the fridge, toss again, then top with a chiffonade of basil. Easy and delicious.