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Labor Day is the perfect time to host a season-ending cookout. Invite your friends and family to celebrate outdoors with this informal and relaxing Labor Day menu. Add some wine and beer and you are all set.

Appetizers

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Lemon-Caper Dip

Serve this dip with your favorite cut up vegetables so your guests have something to nibble on while you grill the clams.

Ingredients

  • One 8 oz. container sour cream
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped, fresh dill, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon lemon peel, finely chopped, plus more for garnish

Directions

Combine sour cream, yogurt, capers, fresh dill and lemon peel. Mix well and refrigerate until ready to use. Top with additional chopped dill and lemon zest before serving.

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Grilled Clams

This will be the easiest appetizer you have ever made. Grilled Clams are best made with small littlenecks (about 1 1/2-inches wide)

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds clams
  • 1/3 extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Basil and parsley for garnish

Directions

To grill the clams:

Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Place clams directly on the grill grates. Grill (no need to turn or rotate) until they open, 3–5 minutes. Transfer clams to a large mixing bowl, discarding any that are not open.

To prepare the sauce:

Mix olive oil, shallot, garlic, chives and parsley in a small bowl.
 Add lemon zest and mix until well combined; season with salt and pepper.

Pour the sauce over the grilled clams in the mixing bowl and toss gently to coat. Transfer to a serving platter, arrange attractively and top with basil and parsley.

Main Course

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Grilled Vegetable and Sausage Pizza

Makes 6 individual pizzas

Ingredients

  • 3 small yellow and/or green summer squash
  • 2 medium red onions
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 small (6-inch) rounds of your favorite pizza dough (or use the recipe below that must be prepared a day in advance)
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed, cooked and drained
  • 2 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon each fresh parsley, thyme and rosemary

Directions

Cut squash into diagonal slices. Cut onions and tomatoes into thick slices. Brush with olive oil.

Heat grill to medium-high.

Place vegetables on oiled grill grates over a medium-high heat (use a grill basket if you like); cook about 5 minutes, until vegetables are lightly browned and tender. Remove to a plate.

Place pizza stone on the grill. When hot, place dough rounds on the stone. Cook about 5 minutes, until the  bottoms are golden. Turn crusts over.

You may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your grill. As the pizza rounds cook place them on a tray until it is time to put them back on the grill.

Distribute sausage evenly on top of each grilled crust. Top with grilled vegetables and cheese. Sprinkle fresh herbs on top.

Cover the grill. Cook 6 to 8 minutes, until the bottoms are browned and the toppings are thoroughly heated.

Pizza Dough for Grilling

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cups warm water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for coating dough
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 5 cups bread flour (high-gluten flour)

Directions

Combine warm water, yeast and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir to combine. Let stand until the mixture foams, about 5 minutes. (If you use instant yeast, you do not have to proof it. Just mix all the ingredients together)

Stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and flour. Mix, using the paddle attachment just until dough comes together, 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove bowl from the mixer, cover, and let stand 20 minutes.

Return bowl to mixer and knead dough, using a dough hook, until surface is smooth and it springs back when you poke it, about 5 minutes.  Dough will be very stiff.

Roll dough in a ball, put it in a clean bowl, and brush lightly with olive oil.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove dough from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature at least 4 hours before you plan to use it.

Place dough on a board. Knead it just enough to punch the air out. Divide it into six pieces. Flatten each piece into a disk on a cutting board and cover with a cloth until you’re ready to use them.

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Italian Greens with Prosciutto, Gorgonzola and Pepperoncini

6 servings

Ingredients

  • ¼ lb prosciutto (8 to 10 slices), cut into 1/8-inch strips
  • 4 cups bite-size pieces mixed salad greens
  • 1 cup bite-size pieces arugula
  • 1 small head radicchio, cut into thin strips (1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup of your favorite red wine vinaigrette
  • ½ cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (2 oz)
  • 6 pepperoncini peppers (bottled Italian pickled peppers), drained and cut into thick rings

Directions

In a 10-inch nonstick skillet, cook prosciutto over medium-high heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium. Cook 5 to 10 minutes longer, stirring frequently, until prosciutto becomes crisp. Drain on a paper towel.

In a large bowl, place salad greens, arugula, radicchio and vinaigrette; toss to coat. Sprinkle with prosciutto and cheese. Garnish with pepperoncini peppers.

Dessert

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Frozen Tortoni Cups

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup crushed amaretti cookies, divided
  • 3 cups of your favorite ice cream
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons flaked coconut, toasted
  • 6 maraschino cherries

Directions

Beat the heavy cream with the powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.

Spoon 1 tablespoon crushed cookies into each of 6 custard dishes or large foil cupcake liners.

Spoon a 1/2 cup of ice cream into each cup, spreading to form an even layer.

Top each layer with 1 tablespoon of crushed cookies, then the whipped cream and some coconut.

Cover loosely with waxed paper and freeze 1 hour or until firm.

Let stand at room temperature 5 minutes before serving. Top each dish with a cherry.

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