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Plan Your Labor Day Menu!

Fri, 31 Aug 2018 - Recipes & food

Labor Day is all about relaxing with friends and family, celebrating, and eating something delicious! But what to make? This Labor Day weekend, we've decided to make it easy for you and provide a delectable three-course Labor Day menu, courtesy of The Campout Cookbook by Marnie Hanel and Jen Stevenson, and Project Fire by Steven Raichlen. On the menu for this holiday weekend is a light and refreshing tomato salad, a decadent rotisserie prime rib, and campfire cakes sure to satisfy even the most dedicated chocolate lovers! 

Appetizer: Garden-Raid Tomato, Cucumber, and Melon Salad

Perhaps the one downside of late-summer camping excursions is leaving behind the lush, fruit-laden tomato, cucumber, and melon vines in your home garden. Right before you hit the road, harvest a big boxful, both to make this “garden raid” salad and to share with your neighboring campers, perhaps in exchange for a few of their S’moreos (page 138), because balance. Serves 4 


  • Presto Pesto (see below)
  • 4 medium heirloom tomatoes, various colors
  • 2 lemon cucumbers
  • 1 cucumber
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes, various colors
  • ½ small cantaloupe, preferably Charentais
  • 1 small shallot
  • One 8-ounce ball fresh mozzarella
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves

Presto Pesto

If making this summery spread ahead of time, portion it into 4-ounce jelly jars, top each with a splash of olive oil to prevent the pesto from oxidizing, and freeze for future uses great and small. Makes about 2 cups

  • 3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1 cup coarsely grated Parmesan, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1⁄3 cup pine nuts
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the jar
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Purée the basil, garlic, Parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a 1-pint Mason jar, top with a thin layer of olive oil, and refrigerate.


  1. Prepare the Presto Pesto, and reserve half for the salad and half for another use.
  2. Remove the pesto from the cooler and let it come to room temperature. Slice the heirloom tomatoes and both types of cucumbers into ¼-inch-thick rounds; cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Arrange the tomatoes and cucumbers in layers on a large platter. Peel and slice the cantaloupe into ½-inch-wide wedges and add to the platter. Slice the shallot into very thin rings and tear the ball of mozzarella into 12 pieces. Sprinkle the salad with the shallot rings and basil leaves, and dot with the mozzarella pieces. Drizzle with Presto Pesto and serve.

Main Course: Rotisserie Prime Rib with Horseradish Cream

The English call it roast beef, but no matter what it's called, the prime rib—the king of steak dinners—is still a crowd-pleaser and a juicy, rich, favorite for chefs everywhere. But did you know you could cook this masterful dish rotisserie style? That's right! In fact, this way of cooking prime rib was so important to the British that in the sixteenth century, a special breed of dog was developed just for the purpose of turning the rotisserie spit using a treadmill! 

Prime rib is delicious when cooked in the oven, but cooked on the wood fire rotisserie, it becomes a whole new dish. And, add in Steven Raichlen's smooth Horseradish Cream sauce for an extra flavorful kick, and it's nothing short of incredible. All you'll need is a grill with a rotisserie, a prime rib roast, and a few other ingredients. Check out Raichlen's post for full ingredients and directions here

Dessert: Molten Chocolate Orange Campfire Cakes

You can have your cake and eat it in an orange, too, with this posh twist on a strange and wonderful camping classic that generally calls for boxed cake mix (hey, we won’t judge). Baking time will vary depending on the heat of the coals and how big your oranges are, so check one for doneness before pulling the whole gang off the heat. Makes 4


  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 navel oranges
  • 3 large eggs
  1. Combine the flour and sugar in a quart-size resealable plastic bag.
  2. Prepare a campfire.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate and butter over low heat on the campfire grill grate or over low heat on the camp stove. Set aside to cool. Cut the tops off the oranges, about 1 inch down, reserving the caps. Use a melon baller or grapefruit spoon to hollow out the oranges, reserving the fruit for juice or snacking. Leave the fruit inside the caps intact.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, then slowly add the chocolate-butter mixture in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Add the flour mixture and mix well. Divide the batter among the oranges, replace the caps, double wrap each orange in foil, and nestle them in the hot coals. Bake until the cakes are firm but the centers are still slightly molten, about 30 minutes, turning the oranges halfway through to avoid hot spots.

Images reprinted from The Campout Cookbook and Project Fire. Campout Cookbook illustrations copyright © Emily Isabella. Project Fire images copyright © Matthew Benson.

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