Though Labor Day weekend isn’t the official end of summer (don’t panic yet!), it’s a good time to take stock of all the summer recipes you still want to try. Or the ones that deserve another go. To inspire you, we’ve put together a Labor Day menu—with plenty of options to swap in—based on recipes the cooks and editors here at Milk Street have been loving this summer. Try one, try them all. Just don’t wait until it’s too late.
Food Editor Matthew Card, who recently moved to Australia, is missing all things Mexican these days and recommends these fish tacos, made extra crispy with a coating of seasoned cornstarch.
Pair the tacos with this slaw. “I love pikliz and make it all the time to serve with our fish tacos,” says Rosemary Gill, director of education at Milk Street. “The fresh thyme adds a surprising amount of interest for such a small quantity and transforms this into no ordinary slaw. And the two habaneros are nothing to be afraid of; they just add this lovely, mild background heat. The pikliz is a perfect taco topping or companion to fatty summer barbecue. Rather than a gloppy mayo-based slaw, it's refreshing and piquant.”
Another good side would be these refried beans from Oaxaca—balanced, complex, and velvety. Lard gives the beans a rich meatiness, but coconut oil is a good vegetarian substitute.
To round out the meal, turn to Mexico City, where a simple cucumber and melon salad comes to life with salt, chili powder, a splash of lime and queso fresco. (Use feta if you can’t find the latter.
If you’re looking for more ideas, or want to swap in a different recipe, here are more Milk Street staff favorites for summer…
“A delicious cold soup, this is easy to make and is garnished with soft boiled egg, bacon and olive oil. It’s a great entertaining recipe, as well. You could make a big bowl of it, put it on ice and put all of the condiments plus more of your own liking on the table for guests to help themselves. Perfect for the last lazy days of summer.” — Wes Martin, Kitchen Director
“This salad was inspired by an ensalada de calabacitas (zucchini salad) created by Iliana de la Vega, chef at El Naranjo in Austin, Texas. It’s a great way to use up any extra zucchini you might have. I love the way the onions, tempered by vinegar, balance the zucchini and yellow squash. And best of all, the whole dish requires just 10 minutes of active cooking time.” — Alison Spiegel, Digital Editor
"I love these Moroccan chicken skewers because they are packed with flavor and have the quickest marinade ever. Grilled lemons with honey are the highlight of the table whenever I make this recipe. Sometimes I'll even make the marinade for some chicken thighs to bake during the week (but I never leave out extra lemon and honey.)" — Brianna Coleman, Art Director of Photography
“We have several fabulous raw veggie salads, which are so appropriate for the final hurrah of summer. The Tomato Herb Salad with Sumac is great this time of year when made with ripe, in-season tomatoes. The recipe calls for plum tomatoes, but in summer, any beautiful tomatoes will do.” — Julia Rackow, Recipe Developer
“Ironically, this is meant to be a winter salad, when summer produce has faded from the markets. But it's crunchy and bright, keeps well (perfect for potlucks) and it can go with pretty much any main dish.” — Julia Rackow, Recipe Developer
In our version of the Danish baked good known as drømmekage (dream cake), a light, fluffy vanilla cake meets a buttery coconut–brown sugar topping. The topping is spread onto the still-warm cake, then a brief stint under the broiler caramelizes the surface. Let’s just say it’s a real crowd pleaser.