Easy Labor Day side dishes that “wow”

Published on August 25 2010 - 4:05 PM
Easy Labor Day side dishes

It seems that most summer parties, at least the ones I’m invited to, are potlucks. And since Labor Day weekend is on the horizon, there’s at least one more summer potluck on my social calendar. I know some of you hate potlucks, perhaps for the very reason I love them—none of the food really goes together. I like that, though—one of the best potlucks I’ve been to featured handmade spring rolls, Indian-spiced carrot soup and tiny profiteroles filled with homemade ice cream, among other tasty treats. And this wasn’t a potluck of international foodies, just my friends who like to cook and eat.

I like to bring something a little out of the ordinary to a potluck. And if you’ve been to a few already this summer, perhaps you’re looking for something different to wow your fellow potluck-goers. Here are 5 of my favorite summer potluck side dishes to take to your next gathering, along with some portability tips. Enjoy!

Related Link: Classic Summer BBQ Picnic Foods Made Healthier

Tex-Mex Summer Squash Casserole: My garden is overrun with summer squash, what about you? Here’s an easy way to use up a lot at once plus make a zesty, satisfying dish to bring to your summer party.
Make ahead note: Prepare up to 2 days in advance and reheat before serving.



Provençal Summer Vegetables: This stunning side dish of layered tomatoes, eggplant, summer squash and leeks bursts with fresh flavor. To make it even more colorful, use half a summer squash and half a zucchini.
Make ahead note: Bake it right before you leave for the party and cover it with foil to keep it warm; it still tastes great at room temperature.


Roasted Fennel & Farro Salad: This whole-grain salad stars farro, an ancient form of wheat common in Italy, along with roasted fennel and bell peppers. If you can’t find farro, wheat berries are a delicious substitute.
Make ahead note: This salad gets better as it sits so take advantage and make it up to 2 days in advance.


Grits & Greens Casserole: Here we’ve combined two favorite Southern side dishes—grits and greens—into one casserole. Omit the bacon and use vegetable broth to make it a vegetarian dish.
Make ahead note: Assemble a day ahead then bake it at the party. I like to write the baking time and temperature on the foil so I don’t have to remember.


Lebanese Potato Salad: Dressed with a tangy lemon vinaigrette and fresh mint, this invigorating—and dairy-free—potato salad makes the perfect summer potluck contribution.
Make ahead note: This salad can be made up to 2 days in advance, ideal if you have a busy weekend ahead.



A graduate of New England Culinary Institute and University of Wisconsin with a degree in journalism, Carolyn pairs her long-standing love for food with writing as EatingWell's senior food editor. Carolyn’s culinary interest is rooted in her childhood; she grew up making thousands of Christmas cookies every year with her mom and picking leaves off bunches of parsley to make tabbouleh with her dad. Away from the kitchen, Carolyn enjoys seeking out rare craft beers and exploring the outdoors with her husband, young daughter and dog.