Labor Day was first celebrated on Tuesday, September 5th, 1882. Two years later, in 1884, it was celebrated on the now-traditional first Monday in September. Originally celebrated in New York, by 1885, it had spread to many industrial centers of the country. This holiday originated in other countries first, then in Canada in the 1870s. In the aftermath of many deaths from the hands of the US military during the 1894 Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland made reconciling with labor a priority and the holiday in the US emerged.
There is some dispute as to who first proposed the Labor Day holiday. Some records show that it was Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a holiday to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold”. But McGuire’s place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Recent research shows that the originator of Labor Day may have been Matthew Maguire of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, NJ. Maguire may have proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as the secretary of the Central Labor Union of New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted the proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic. By 1894, 23 states had adopted Labor Day legislation and in June of that year, Congress passed Federal legislation recognizing the first Monday in September as Labor Day.
Over the years, many traditions have been added to the US holiday including parades, festivities for the family, BBQs, water sports, fireworks, and public events. Many people also view Labor Day as the end of summer. It has become a day of rest, relaxation, and spending time with the family. Labor Day weekend is also the start of football season for the US. So, as you take your final trip to the beach or fire up the grill for your Labor Day picnic, take a moment to commemorate the founders of Labor Day, both of them! (Source: US Department of Labor)
Menu For Your Get Together
Rosemary-Lemon White Bean Dip
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage, extra for garnish
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- Two 19-ounce cans low sodium cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Cayenne pepper
- Pita chips and Cut Up Vegetables, for serving
In a medium skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the garlic, sage and rosemary and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until fragrant and the garlic is just beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Add the beans and toss to coat.
Transfer the cannellini beans to a food processor. Add the lemon juice, season with salt and cayenne and process to a fairly smooth puree. Transfer the dip to a small serving bowl, drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top and garnish with fresh herbs. Serve with pita chips and veggies.
Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Basil and Tomato
Before grilling, soak the toothpicks or wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes to prevent them from burning. Butterflying the chicken — splitting each piece in half and fanning it open like a book — creates two layers to contain the stuffing.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each)
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
For The Stuffing:
- 12 fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
- 2 beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
Butterfly chicken breasts: Put halves on a cutting board, smooth sides down, with the pointed ends facing you.
Starting on one long side, cut breasts almost in half horizontally (stop about 1/2 inch before reaching the opposite side). Open cut breasts like a book. Place each breast between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound lightly to even out the thickness of the cutlets.
Sprinkle each piece all over with salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate, and coat both sides with garlic and oil. Let stand 30 minutes.
Heat a grill or grill pan until medium-hot.
Place 3 basil leaves on the bottom half of each opened chicken breast; top each with 2 slices tomato and one slice of cheese. Fold over other half of chicken breast, and secure with two toothpicks or short skewers.
Grill chicken breasts, turning once, until golden brown on both sides and no longer pink in the center, about 15 minutes. Place on a clean serving platter; garnish with basil.
Garden Vegetable Pasta Salad
It is always a good idea to offer a vegetarian option for your friends. This salad can serve as a side to the chicken entree or a main dish option for vegetarians. If they are vegan, then leave the parmesan cheese out of the dressing and serve it in a bowl to sprinkle on top of the salad.
- 1 pound fusilli or pasta of your choice
- 2 medium eggplant
- 2 medium zucchini
- 2 medium yellow summer squash
- 1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 1 medium sweet red pepper, cut in half and seeds removed
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 3 plum tomatoes, chopped
- 2 cans (2-1/4 ounces each) sliced ripe olives, drained
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and place in a large bowl and set aside.
Meanwhile, cut the eggplant, zucchini and summer squash lengthwise into 3/4-in.-thick slices. Brush the eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, red onion and red pepper with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Grill vegetables, covered, over medium heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until crisp-tender. When cool enough to handle, cut into cubes.
Add the tomatoes, olives, parsley and grilled vegetables to the pasta.
In a small bowl, whisk the vinaigrette ingredients. Pour over salad; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
Serving size 3/4 cup.
Grilled Corn on the Cob
- 8 ears corn
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
Preheat grill to medium-high.
Combine oil, minced garlic, minced chives and hot sauce in a small bowl.
Brush husked corn with oil mixture. Grill the corn, turning occasionally, until some kernels char a little and others are light brown, 6 to 10 minutes.
Green Bean Salad
- 1 pound green beans—halved on the diagonal
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts (pignoli)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Toast the pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat until lightly browned (about 2 minutes). Set aside.
Cook the green beans in rapidly boiling water for 6 minutes, then refresh under cold water and drain.
Add all the remaining ingredients, except pine nuts, to a screw top jar and shake to combine.
Place the green beans in a serving bowl, pour over the dressing mixture and stir to combine thoroughly.
Let stand at room temperature. Stir in the pine nuts just before serving.
- 1/2 cup sugar or 1/4 cup light sugar alternative, such as Truvia for Baking or Light Domino Sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups fresh sliced strawberries
- 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
- 1 cup fresh blackberries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/3 cup fat-free milk
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 /4 teaspoon almond extract
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour or Eagle Ultra Grain flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
In a small heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and water until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in berries. Transfer to an 11 x 7-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray.
For topping, in a small bowl, beat sugar and butter until crumbly, about 2 minutes. Beat in milk and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir into butter mixture just until blended. Drop by tablespoonfuls over fruit mixture.
Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until filling is bubbly and a toothpick inserted in topping comes out clean. Serve warm.
- NYT 1887-09-06: “Labor Day” (lvtfan.typepad.com)
- Labor Day Weekend: Meal Plans and Favorite Recipes (faithfulprovisions.com)
- Seattle among top travel destinations for Labor Day (slide show) (bizjournals.com)