Labor Day is a holiday best known for its parades and picnics.  

The role of unions in the United States was very much unsettled in 1894 when Labor Day became a federal holiday.  The federal government had just used U.S. Marshals and the Army to break the Pullman Strike and reconciliation was the order of the day.  

Quick congressional action allowed President Grover Cleveland to sign the law creating the Labor Day national holiday  a week after the strike.

Ever since Labor Day has been celebrated in pretty much the same way. The old-fashioned Labor Day picnic is often thought of as a two-fisted affair.  That means you better arrive with each fist around a dish or two to share.

It also might mean your two fists might be needed later in the day after a warm afternoon, too much beer, and the inevitable arguments led to fist-a-cuffs before everyone went home until next year.

Those old-fashioned Labor Day picnic traditions are probably best left in the past, and there are events now so sponsored and commercial that you do not even need to bring anything from home.

But if you do, it’s best to pick something that is quick and easy, and since it is still summer, food safety has to be keep in the forefront of your plans.  Stick to a couple of salads that you can rustle up from late summer’s harvest and you will do fine.

Here are my choices:

Tomato Pasta 


1 lb Penne Pasta

2 lbs Tomatoes (regular, cherry or plum; halved, seeded and chopped)

4 oz   Goat cheese

4 Cloves of garlic

2 Tablespoons of Parmesan Cheese

2 Tablespoons of Parsley

2 Tablespoons of Balsmic Vinegar

1/4 Cup of Olive Oil


Use a large salad bowl to combine tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, parsley, basil, garlic, goat cheese, and salt and pepper.

In a three quart pan, boil the pasta in water until its tender and then drain.  Then add everything from the salad bowl, toss, and add parmesan cheese.

Keep it cool, possibility in ice for serving outdoors.   Refrigerate leftovers.

8-10 servings as a side dish

Cucumber Lover’s Delight


4 medium cucumbers

2 small red onions

1 cup of water

1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar

2 table spoons of granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon of salt


Slice cucumbers and dice onions

Mix the water and sugar, until its dissolved.  Then add vinegar and salt.  Pour over 

Pour over cucumbers and onions until covered.   Refrigerate overnight.

Serves 8.  Double all proportions for 16, and so on.

Keep iced if serving at an outdoor picnic.

The Food Safety News crew is taking a day off from writing about food to take time to simply enjoy it. In keeping with our holiday tradition, we’re sharing some of our recipes in another virtual potluck: from Suz’s cabbage salsa to Cookson’s squash salad, from Dan’s pasta to Andy’s prawns, from Helena’s ciabatta to Gretchen’s cookie bars. Have a restful Labor Day.