Labor Day is time to celebrate the end of summer with family and friends. It’s also when fruits and veggies like peaches, cucumbers and figs are at their peak. To help soften the end-of-summer blues, we’ve handpicked five salads and sides that highlight the season’s finest produce.
Peaches are one of summer’s signature fruits. You can make use of not-quite-ripe peaches by grilling them to caramelize their natural sugars. The fragrant mix of mint and basil in this pesto helps brighten arugula’s peppery bite. Peaches and arugula pack this salad with vitamins C and K, while the pine nut–based pesto balances it with healthy fats. Serve this salad alongside a light protein like chicken or fish.
Corn is crisper and sweeter during summer, and tends to go on sale at the end of the season. This salad pairs corn with antioxidant-rich mangos and protein-packed black beans. Nutritionally, corn is considered a whole grain and is a good source of fiber. When combined, corn and black beans become a complete source of plant-based protein. Serve as a side salad, or with tortilla chips as a healthy salsa.
Fresh figs are an often underrated summer fruit. Figs pack a dose of heart-healthy fiber and potassium, and here they’re brightened up with a touch of honey. Serve these sweet-and-salty bites as a light appetizer or dessert.
Late summer is the perfect time to make baba ghanoush, a Middle Eastern eggplant dip. Eggplants come into full bloom in late summer, and they’re usually available in several varieties like Japanese and Santana. You can also grill the eggplants to add a smoky flavor to your baba ghanoush. Serve it with veggie crudités or whole-wheat pita.
This crunchy and spicy cucumber salad pairs well with grilled beef or pork. Late summer is when cucumbers are at their peak. Look for Asian or Middle Eastern cucumbers, as their sweetness will help balance the spicy dressing. Make this salad a few hours ahead so the flavors have time to blend.