Side dishes and salads for your Labor Day picnic

Labor Day weekend is a nice time for a backyard gathering with great fellowship and delicious food. Quite often, these gatherings involve some type of grilled or smoked meat. So add a couple of side dishes and you're good to go.

To help you with your menu, I'm featuring all salad recipes today. Green salads, fruit salads, macaroni salad, some with beans, many with fresh vegetables and even cornbread.

After looking at all of these recipes, in print and by visiting for the full column, you are sure to find a recipe or two suitable for almost any crowd.

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend!

Blackberry Margarita Ambrosia

Plump blackberries, sweet pineapple and bright lime bring this Ambrosia style salad a bit of summer fun.

* 2 cups blackberries

* 2 cups pineapple tidbits

* 2 cups mini marshmallows

* 1 cup shredded coconut, sweetened

* 1 cup walnuts, chopped

* 1 medium lime, zested

* 1/2 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed

* 1/2 cup lime yogurt

Add blackberries, pineapple, marshmallows, coconut, walnuts and lime zest to a large mixing bowl and stir gently to avoid bursting the berries.

In a small bowl, mix together the whipped topping and yogurt. Add to the salad. Again, tossing gently.

Top with extra whipped topping and lime zest to garnish.

Tortellini 3-Bean Salad

* 9-ounce package cheese tortellini, uncooked

* 2 (15-ounce) cans 3-bean salad

* 8-ounce package cotto salami, cut into thin ribbons

* 2 (5-ounce) packages baby spinach

* Garnish: grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and transfer to a bowl. While still warm, add undrained 3-bean salad and salami; set aside. To serve, arrange spinach in a large serving dish, or on individual salad plates. Spoon tortellini mixture onto spinach by large spoonfuls. Sprinkle with cheese. Makes six to eight servings.

Bountiful Garden Salad

* 6 cups. spinach, torn

* 1 pound romaine lettuce, torn

* 1 rib celery, chopped

* 1 red onion, chopped

* 1 tomato, chopped

* 1/2 cucumber, chopped

* 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

* 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

* 1/2 orange, peeled and sectioned

* 3/4 cup black berries, raspberries and/or blueberries

* 1/2 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced

* 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted

* 3/4 cup to 1 cup raspberries, crushed

* 1/4 cup raspberry vinegar

* 1 tablespoon sugar

* 2 tablespoons lemon juice

* 1 cup olive oil

* Salt and pepper to taste

* Garnish: croutons

In a large bowl, combine spinach, romaine, vegetables, cilantro, garlic, orange, blackberries, strawberries and walnuts. Toss to mix well and set aside. In a small bowl, combine raspberries, vinegar, sugar and lemon juice. Slowly drizzle in oil, whisking constantly to blend; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle salad with dressing; garnish with croutons. Serves six to eight.

Tropical Orange Gelatin Salad

Light and refreshing, this Tropical Orange Gelatin Salad is loaded with mandarin oranges, pineapple, bananas and topped with a cloud of coconut-flavored, sweetened sour cream.

* 2 (3 ounce) boxes orange flavored gelatin

* 1 1/2 cup boiling water

* 15 ounces canned mandarin oranges, drained

* 20 ounces canned pineapple tidbits, drained

* 3 medium bananas, sliced

* 16 ounces sour cream

* 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes

* 2 tablespoons sugar

* 1/2 cup sliced almonds

* Extra coconut, mint leaves, orange slices to garnish, optional

Whisk together gelatin and boiling water in a large mixing bowl. Gently fold in each kind of fruit, fully incorporating before adding the next. Pour or ladle gelatin and fruit into individual serving bowls or into a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish. Place in refrigerator to set for one to two hours.

Mix together sour cream, sugar and coconut and refrigerate until gelatin is set.

When gelatin is set, top individual fruit salads with a dollop of the sour cream topping, sprinkle with sliced almonds and extra coconut. If using a 9-inch by 13-inch dish, top entire dish with sour cream layer. Finish the layer with the back of a spoon to create creamy waves. Top with sliced almonds and extra coconut.

Note: Sliced oranges and mint leaves are optional garnishes.

Crunchy Corn Chip Salad

* 11-ounce can sweet corn and diced peppers, drained

* 1/3 cup green pepper, minced

* 1/4 cup green onion, chopped

* 10-ounce package corn chips

* 8-ounce bottle ranch salad dressing

Combine corn, green pepper and onion together in a large serving bowl; refrigerate until ready to serve. Add corn chips and enough ranch dressing to moisten. Serve immediately.

Tangy Watermelon Salad

* 14 cups watermelon, cubed

* 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced

* 1 cup green onions, chopped

* 3/4 cup orange juice

* 5 tablespoons red wine vinegar

* 2 tablespoons plus 1-1/2 teaspoons honey

* 1 tablespoon green pepper, finely chopped

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1/4 teaspoon pepper

* 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

* 1/4 teaspoon onion powder

* 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

* 3/4 cup oil

In a large bowl, combine watermelon and onion; set aside. In a small bowl, combine orange juice, vinegar, honey, green pepper and seasonings; slowly whisk in oil. Pour over watermelon mixture; toss gently. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve with a slotted spoon. Makes about 10 servings.

Amazing Summer Salad

Caprese and fresh fruit always remind us of summer. This recipe combines traditional Caprese flavors with summer blueberries, peaches with added prosciutto for saltiness, creating a balanced and flavor-packed popular side dish

* 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

* 1/2 cup julienned fresh basil

* 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar

* 1/4 cup julienned fresh mint leaves

* 2 garlic cloves, minced

* 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

* 1 teaspoon sea salt

* 1 teaspoon sugar

* 1 teaspoon pepper

* 2 cups cherry tomatoes

* 8 cups fresh arugula

* 1 carton (8 ounces) fresh mozzarella cheese pearls, drained

* 2 medium peaches, sliced

* 2 cups fresh blueberries

* 6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, julienned

In a small bowl, whisk the first 9 ingredients. Add tomatoes; let stand while preparing salad.

In a large bowl, combine arugula, mozzarella, peach slices, blueberries, and prosciutto. Pour tomato mixture over top; toss to coat. Garnish with additional mint leaves. Serve immediately.

Summer Pasta Primavera

* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

* 1 medium yellow squash, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick

* 1 medium zucchini, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick

* 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

* 1 cup thinly sliced red onion

* 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

* 32 ounces vegetable broth

* 1/4 cup dry white wine such as Pinto Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc

* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

* 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

* 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

* 16 ounce package angel hair pasta

* 2 cups chopped fresh asparagus

* 1 cup frozen peas, thawed

* 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

* 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

In a medium Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add squash, zucchini, bell pepper, onion, and garlic; cover and cook, occasionally stirring until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes.

Add broth, wine, salt, black pepper, and red pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium.

Add pasta and cook, occasionally stirring, until tender, about 10 minutes adding asparagus and peas during last 3 minutes of cooking. Stir in Parmesan and parsley. Garnish with red pepper and parsley if desired.

Layered Salad for a Crowd

This salad may soon become a favorite of your family. It is best to make the dressing the day before so the flavors blend together.

* 1 cup mayonnaise

* 1/4 cup whole milk

* 2 teaspoons dill weed

* 1/2 teaspoon seasoning blend

* 1 bunch romaine, torn

* 2 medium carrots, grated

* 1 cup chopped red onion

* 1 medium cucumber, sliced

* 1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas, thawed

* 1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

* 8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

For dressing, in a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, milk, dill and seasoning blend.

In a 4-quart clear glass serving bowl, layer the romaine, carrots, onion and cucumber (do not toss). Pour dressing over the top; sprinkle with peas, cheese and bacon. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Classic Fruit Salad with Old Fashioned Century Sauce

Bright and colorful fruit salad is complemented by an old fashioned sauce that takes this fruit salad to a new level of enjoyment.

* 2 medium green apples, diced

* 1 pound strawberries, diced

* 1 pint blueberries

* 2 bananas, sliced

* 1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut

* 1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)

Old Fashioned Century Sauce:

* 1 cup cream

* 3/4 cup sugar

* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a small sauce pan, slowly heat cream and sugar on low heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Continue to stir frequently as cream heats. When sauce is thin and begins to simmer, remove from heat. Add vanilla. Stir. Allow to cool.

Toss chopped fruit and nuts in a bowl. Pour cooled sauce over the top. Gently toss again. Serve immediately or cool in refrigerator up to 30 minutes.

Raspberry Pretzel Salad

* 1 3/4 cup crushed pretzels

* 3/4 cup butter, melted

* 3 tablespoons sugar

* 8 ounces light cream cheese

* 3/4 cup granulated sugar

* 2 (8 ounce) containers lite frozen whipped topping, thawed

* 1 (5.9 ounce) package raspberry gelatin

* 2 cups water

* 16 ounces frozen raspberries

* Additional pretzels to crush for topping and a few fresh raspberries for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix pretzels, melted butter and sugar together. Press into a lightly greased 9x13 baking dish and bake for 10 minutes. Let cool.

Whip cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar. Stir in one 8 ounce container of thawed whipped topping until thoroughly combined. Spread over cooled pretzel crust.

Bring two cups of water to a boil. Dissolve gelatin in water. Stir in frozen raspberries. Let mixture become partially jellied before pouring over cream cheese mixture.

Chill until firm and set. Top with remaining whipped topping.

Sprinkle on crushed pretzels and a few fresh raspberries, if desired, and serve.

Apple Walnut Slaw

This recipe is simple yet delicious and sure to be a new favorite at your backyard bbq or holiday family celebration. Apples, walnuts and raisins are a fun way to dress up coleslaw.

* 3/4 cup mayonnaise

* 3/4 cup buttermilk

* 4 to 5 tablespoons sugar

* 4-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

* 3/4 teaspoon salt

* 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper

* 6 cups shredded cabbage (about 1 small head)

* 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots (2-3 medium carrots)

* n 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion

* 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

* 3/4 cup raisins

* 2 medium apples, chopped

Whisk together first six ingredients. In a large bowl, combine vegetables, walnuts and raisins; toss with dressing. Fold in apples.

Refrigerate, covered, until serving.

Strawberry Jell-o Salad

* 6 ounces strawberry Jell-o

* 1 cup boiling water

* 20 ounces frozen strawberries

* 20 ounces crushed pineapple, drained

* 3 medium bananas, sliced

* 1/2 cup chopped pecans

* 16 ounces sour cream

Whisk together gelatin and boiling water in a large mixing bowl or 8 cup measuring cup until the gelatin is dissolved.

Add 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple, drained (do not use fresh pineapple), sliced bananas, frozen strawberries, and pecans. Mix well.

Pour 1/2 of mixture into a 9x13 baking dish. Put in refrigerator to set for 20-30 minutes. Set aside rest of gelatin, but do not chill.

When first layer is set, top with sour cream. Add rest of gelatin, smooth out towards to the edges to complete the top layer.

Chill in refrigerator 2 hours to overnight before slicing and serving.

Macaroni Coleslaw

* 1 package (7 ounces) ring macaroni or ditalini

* 1 package (14 ounces) coleslaw mix

* 2 medium onions, very finely chopped

* 2 celery ribs, finely chopped

* 1 medium cucumber, finely chopped

* 1 medium green pepper, finely chopped

* 1 can (8 ounces) whole water chestnuts, drained and chopped

For the dressing:

* 1 1/2 cups Miracle Whip Light

* 1/3 cup sugar

* 1/4 cup cider vinegar

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water. Transfer to a large bowl; add the coleslaw mix, onions, celery, cucumber, green pepper and water chestnuts.

In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients. Pour over salad; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Pork and Bean Salad

* 2 (16-ounce) cans pork and beans

* 1 onion, minced

* 1 tomato, chopped

* 2 to 3 tablespoons mayonnaise

* Celery salt to taste

Combine ingredients. Cover and chill before serving.

Nutty Broccoli Slaw

This recipe for a delightful salad uses a sweet dressing that nicely coats a crisp blend of broccoli slaw mix, onions, almonds and sunflower kernels. Crushed ramen noodles provide even more crunch. It's a smash hit wherever I take it.

* 1 package (3 ounces) chicken ramen noodles, broken up, dry toasted

* 1 package (16 ounces) broccoli coleslaw mix

* 2 cups sliced green onions (about 2 bunches)

* 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets

* 1 can (6 ounces) ripe olives, drained, rinsed and halved

* 1 cup sunflower kernels, toasted

* 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

* 1/2 cup sugar

* 1/2 cup cider vinegar

* 1/2 cup olive oil

Set aside the ramen noodle seasoning packet; crush the noodles and place in a large dry skillet. Toast until brown and fragrant. Pour into a large bowl to cool. Add the slaw mix, onions, broccoli, olives, sunflower kernels and almonds.

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the sugar, vinegar, oil and contents of seasoning packet; shake well. Drizzle over salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Melon-Berry Salad

The best way to cool down on a warm day is a chilled fruit salad. Serve this one for breakfast, brunch or dessert. Yogurt and coconut milk make the creamy dressing even more decadent. Wait until just before serving to garnish the salad, otherwise the toasted coconut will get soggy.

* 1 cup fat-free vanilla Greek yogurt

* 1/2 cup coconut milk

* 1/2 cup orange juice

* 4 cups cubed cantaloupe (1/2-inch)

* 4 cups cubed watermelon (1/2-inch)

* 2 medium navel oranges, sectioned

* 1 cup fresh raspberries

* 1 cup fresh blueberries

* 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted

For dressing, whisk together yogurt, coconut milk and orange juice. Refrigerate until serving.

To serve, place fruit in a large bowl; toss gently with dressing. Sprinkle with coconut.

Chili Cornbread Salad

* 1 package (8-1/2 ounces) cornbread/muffin mix

* 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies, undrained

* 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

* 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano

* Pinch rubbed sage

* 1 cup mayonnaise

* 1 cup sour cream

* 1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix

* 2 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, rinsed and drained

* 2 cans (15-1/4 ounces each) whole kernel corn, drained

* 3 medium tomatoes, chopped

* 1 cup chopped green pepper

* 1 cup chopped green onions

* 10 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

* 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Prepare cornbread batter according to package directions. Stir in chilies, cumin, oregano and sage. Spread in a greased 8-inch square baking pan. Bake at 400 degrees until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Cool.

In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream and dressing mix; set aside. Crumble half of the cornbread into a 13x9-inch dish. Layer with half of the beans, mayonnaise mixture, corn, tomatoes, green pepper, onions, bacon and cheese. Repeat layers (dish will be very full). Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Loaded Baked Potato Salad

This potato salad recipe tastes like baked potatoes with all the fixin's, which nearly everyone loves.

* 5 pounds small unpeeled red potatoes, cubed

* 1 teaspoon salt

* 1/2 teaspoon pepper

* 8 hard-boiled large eggs, chopped

* 1 pound sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled

* 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

* 1 sweet onion, chopped

* 3 dill pickles, chopped

* 1-1/2 cups sour cream

* 1 cup mayonnaise

* 2 to 3 teaspoons prepared mustard

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle potatoes with salt and pepper; bake, uncovered, in a greased 15x10x1-inch baking pan until tender, 40-45 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

Combine potatoes with next five ingredients. In another bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise and mustard; pour over potato mixture, tossing to coat. Refrigerate until serving.

Honeydew Melon and Prosciutto Salad

For parties or family gatherins, turn melon and prosciutto into an easy salad with a honey mustard dressing. To add zip, stir in fresh basil and mint.

* 1/3 cup olive oil

* 1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest

* 2 tablespoons lime juice

* 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

* 2 tablespoons honey

* 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* 3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

For the salad::

* 8 cups fresh arugula or baby spinach (about 5 ounces)

* 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

* 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves

* 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

* 8 cups diced honeydew melon

* 1 package (8 ounces) fresh mozzarella cheese pearls

* 1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into wide strips

Place the first eight ingredients in a blender; cover and process until smooth. Place arugula, onion and herbs in a large bowl. Drizzle with 1/3 cup vinaigrette and toss lightly to coat. In large serving bowl layer with 1/4 arugula mixture, honeydew, mozzarella cheese and prosciutto. Repeat layers 3 times. Serve with remaining vinaigrette.

Summer Cauliflower Salad

* 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-size flowerets

* 10-ounce package frozen peas

* 1 cup Cheddar cheese, diced

* 1-ounce package ranch salad dressing mix

* 1-1/2 cup mayonnaise

* In a serving bowl, combine cauliflower, frozen peas, cheese and salad dressing mix; toss well. Spread mayonnaise over the top, sealing to the edges. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Stir gently just before serving.

Simply adjust amounts for desired servings.

Cincinnati Salad

* 1/4 cup sour cream

* 1/4 cup mayonnaise

* 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen peas, thawed and drained

* 1 to 2 green onions, thinly sliced

* 1/2 pound (8 ounces) redskin Spanish peanuts

Blend sour cream and mayonnaise in a large bowl. Fold in peas and onions; cover and chill. Stir in peanuts just before serving.

Layered Cornbread Salad

When the garden comes in, harvest the veggies and layer them with cornbread and sweet relish for this snappy salad.

* 1 package (8-1/2 ounces) cornbread/muffin mix

* 1 cup mayonnaise

* 1/2 cup sweet pickle relish

* 2 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, rinsed and drained

* 4 medium tomatoes, chopped

* 1 medium green pepper, chopped

* 1 medium onion, chopped

* 10 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare cornbread batter according to package directions. Pour into a greased 8-inch square baking pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 15-20 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Coarsely crumble cornbread into a large bowl.

In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise and relish.

In a 3-quart trifle bowl or glass bowl, layer a third of the cornbread and half of each of the following: beans, tomatoes, pepper, onion, bacon and mayonnaise mixture. Repeat layers. Top with remaining cornbread. Refrigerate, covered, 2-4 hours before serving.

Summer Tomato Salad

* 4 tomatoes, sliced

* 1 red onion, sliced into rings

* 1 green pepper, sliced into rings

* 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

* 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

* 1/2 teaspoon sugar

* 1 teaspoon salt

* 1/2 cup oil

* 1/8 teaspoon dried savory

* 1-1/4 ounce blue or Roquefort cheese, crumbled

Alternate layers of vegetables in a large bowl, trifle dish, or glass baking loaf pan. Whisk together lemon juice, parsley, sugar, salt, oil and savory in a bowl. Pour over layered veggies. Sprinkle crumbled cheese over top. Marinate overnight in refrigerator to blend flavors.

Creamy Ranch Macaroni Salad

* 16-ounce package medium shell pasta, uncooked

* 3/4 cup onion, chopped

* 1/2 cup celery, chopped

* 1 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped

* 1 cup sour cream

* 1-ounce package ranch salad dressing mix, divided

* 1 cup mayonnaise

* 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Cook shells according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside. Combine onion, celery and parsley in a large bowl; add shells and toss together. Add sour cream and half the salad dressing mix; stir well. Add mayonnaise and remaining dressing mix; stir again. Toss with Cheddar cheese. Serve.

Frozen Fruit Salad

* 16-ounce can apricot halves

* 20-ounce can crushed pineapple

* 10-ounce package frozen strawberries, thawed

* 6-ounce can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

* 1/2 cup water

* 1/2 cup sugar

* 3 bananas, sliced

Combine undrained apricots and pineapple. Mix in remaining ingredients except bananas; set aside. Arrange bananas in a 12-x 9-inch baking pan; pour fruit mixture over top. Cover and freeze for at least 24 hours. Before serving, let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Cut into squares to serve.

Until next time, happy cooking!