Kick the holiday off right, eat light and drink on. Labor Day is a time for savoring the last of these warm summer days and digging into some decadent eats. Always be mindful of options when you are entertaining. So for variety’s sake, I started with something sweet– a Goat Cheese, Caramelized Onion & Fig Flatbread, on a Cauliflower Crust and a more indulgent option, a Marinated Mozzarella, and Tomato Pie. 

  This year, I’ve prepared a spread that challenges the traditional cookout classics and focuses on all of the harvested herbs and veggies that mother earth blessed us with this season.  In between travels and hectic work schedules, it’s important to get in touch with nature, Gardening is a great escape. Nurturing little seedlings into towering tomato plants is immensely gratifying, and being able to share them at the dinner table is even better.  Tomatoes, onions, rosemary, basil, garlic, and plenty of other plants have all made a home in the patch of earth behind my house. These are just some of the homegrown goodies that went into these recipes. I set the table in patriotic tones, and poured up a glass of St. Germain + Citrus Sangria and plucked some ripe pickin’s and headed to the kitchen to start on the flatbread.

Here’s what you will need:

•  Cauliflower crust (my favorite recipe) or a flatbread crust.

• 8 oz. or 1 Package of herbed or plain Chèvre.

• 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

• 2 teaspoons of minced garlic

• 1 teaspoon finely minced rosemary

• 3 red onions

• 4 small brown onions

• 1 cup of sliced figs, fresh or dried

Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Wash and peel onions. Cut onions crosswise (NOT through the root) into ½-inch thick slices, or about 5 slices per medium onion. Keep the onion slices whole–do not separate them into rings.  Then arrange onion slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.  Drizzle with oil. Rub the tops of the onions with your fingers to spread the oil evenly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. (Full prep here.)

Choose your figs, I used small black mission figs. Slice them into 1/4 inch thin slices.

Slice then crumble your Chèvre.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prick the bottom of pastry all over with a fork. Line the pastry with parchment paper; fill with pie weights or dried beans. Dust the baking sheet or tart pan with a bit of flour. Bake until pastry begins to color around the edges, Golden brown. 15 to 20 minutes.

Heat 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil over a low temperature. add 2 teaspoons of minced garlic and 1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary and a pinch of onion salt.  Heat until the garlic is mildly browned.  Remove and save to spread over the pie crust.

Assemble your toppings starting with the goat cheese, then the figs, and finally the caramelized onions. Bake for about 25 minutes at 425°F


Now that the work is done, get yourself out of that hot kitchen, Mix up this delicious drink, and cool off outside in a shady spot.

Citrus St. Germain Sangria

•  2 fresh squeezed lemons

•  2 oz. of st. germain

•  1 cup Sauvignon blanc

•  8 freshly-picked mint leaves

Juice your lemons, add mint leaves, then lightly muddle. Add St. Germaine and wine and pour mixture over ice.  Top with 1 cup of citrus seltzer water. Garnish with lime.

Make a complementary dish for variety, or if you are entertaining a larger number of people. A great option is this marinated mozzarella and tomato pie (recipe)