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Labor Day Recipes: Fun Side Dishes!!

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If you're like most Americans, you'll be on your way to a barbecue at some point this weekend. Of course you'll want to do the right thing and help out your host with the menu -- but who wants to slave over a blazing grill in this heat? Here are some super quick and delicious side dishes you can bring along as an offering to the hospitality gods -- that great crowd-pleaser, Potato Salad, as well as Corn and Black Bean Relish (a side and a condiment!) Cucumber Pickles (a salad and a condiment! are we seeing a theme here?), and don't forget about the drinks: a Michelada is a cool and refreshing way to bedrunkify your hard-earned holiday. So avoid the grill this weekend, and spend your Labor Day as God intended: with your feet up, a stiff drink in your hand, and a belly full of goodness.

The Best and Easiest Potato Salad Ever

1 pound potatoes, small dice (Reds work well, baking potatoes are too starchy for potato salad)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons fresh herbs, finely chopped (you can use parsley, cilantro, scallions, whatever floats your potato boat).
Salt & pepper to taste

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Boil the diced potatoes (a small dice works best here - they should be less than 1" cubes) for about ten minutes, or until slightly soft (NOT MUSHY). Drain and let cool.

Add apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Let the potatoes absorb the vinegar - they should suck it up like little sponges! Then add your mayo and mustard, and stir well to coat the potatoes.

Finally, add your onion and herbs, and mix well. Let the salad cool in the fridge for several hours so the flavors will blend. Serve alongside grilled chicken and fresh corn.

Corn & Black Bean Relish
Two ears of fresh corn
One can of black beans
1/2 bunch cilantro, minced
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
2 jalapenos, finely minced
Pinch of cumin
Juice of one lime
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Throw the corn on the grill until just beginning to char. Pull it off and let it cool. Cut off the kernels and put into a bowl. Combine with all other ingredients, season with salt and pepper. If you like a bit of a kick, add a pinch of cayenne pepper. Let chill for a while. This is great to keep in your fridge for a few days: you can dress up quesadillas, burritos, grilled chicken, salads, or just eat it by itself for a quick, healthy snack.

Cucumber Pickles
About two large cucumbers, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
Large pinch (to taste) crushed red pepper

Layer the cucumber slices with a sprinkle of salt, then put in the fridge so the water leaches out of the cukes. After about twenty minutes, take them out and rinse and drain them. They should be nice and floppy, but still retain a crunch. Add the vinegar, soy, and sesame -- if you're preparing this in a Tupperware, it's easy to just pop the lid on and then shake up the cukes to distribute the dressing properly. Add your red pepper and sesame seeds. Pop back in the fridge for another half hour to chill. This is a great appetizer to serve in little ramekins, or as a side with your potato salad and grilled meat.

1 lime, quartered
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 dash of hot sauce (Tabasco will work well)
1 cup Mexican pilsner-style beer (like Modelo Especial)

This is so easy, even a very drunk person could do it. Rim the glass with salt, margarita-style: wet the rim with a cut lime, then press the glass into a bowl of salt. Dump the remaining lime into the glass. Fill it with ice, then the Worcestershire and hot sauce. Pour the beer over.

Actually, this sounds like a fantastic breakfast beverage to tame a hangover. Pair this the morning after with some scrambled eggs, tortillas, and that leftover corn-bean salsa?

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Yes, yes, I know. You're welcome, Angelenos. You are so welcome. Happy Labor Day.

Photo by mosesxan via Flickr.

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