A salad for any celebration, including Labor Day

  • Thursday, August 30, 2012

 Today begins the Labor Day Weekend, a celebration we’ve observed in this country for over a century. It’s been said it was part of labor’s eight-hour-day movement: eight hours to work; eight to play; eight to sleep. The first holiday was marked by a parade in 1882. Two years later the first Monday of September was selected for the annual observance. Some sources say this date was chosen to add a holiday between the long span from July Fourth to Thanksgiving In 1894 it was made a Federal holiday. We’ve since been enthusiastically celebrating it with more parades and picnics. It’s a tribute to American workers and their (our!) contributions and achievements both economically and socially.
There are plenty of other reasons to mark the occasion: the symbolic end of summer; the very real beginning of the football season; and the prelude to fall and all the exciting seasonal activities that follow. It used to be the last holiday before school started, but these days kids are already back in school. Other things have changed too. Fashion it seems is sometimes now a Do It Yourself activity. But it used to be that nobody would think of being seen in public wearing seersucker or white shoes (horrors!) after Labor Day.
Most everybody has special plans for this weekend and all those plans include food. Here’s one of our family’s favorite salads – something that goes with everything from tuna to tournedos. I first discovered this dish many moons ago when I attended an Air Force wives salad luncheon. This was a popular event at the time. We all brought a favored salad along with the recipe written on enough 3 x 5 cards for each of the attendees. We all sampled the buffet of salads and picked up the recipes of our favorites.
I serve it all through the year. It’s great for Fourth of July picnics as well as Halloween celebrations. It appears on our table during the Christmas holidays and often stars at Easter dinner. Kids and adults both enjoy it. In fact one friend told me several years ago that it should be called “The Sara Lee Salad” because it fit that company’s once popular advertising slogan that “Nobody Doesn’t Like Sara Lee.” It would make an appetizing side dish to whatever you’re serving – or bringing – to your own Labor Day celebration. Another plus is that it’s made a day ahead of time, so you’re free to enjoy even more of the holiday itself.
Iceberg lettuce, ½ head or more, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup green or Vidalia onions, chopped
1 (2 lb) package frozen peas
1 to 2 cups real mayonnaise
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
2 to 4 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
1 lb. bacon, cooked & crumbled.
A large shallow pasta bowl is best to use. Layer lettuce, celery, onions, peas, mayonnaise, sugar, cheese and bacon to cover surface. Wrap top in aluminum foil. Refrigerate 24 hours before serving.
Tip: you can use light mayonnaise and artificial sweetener as well as lower-fat cheese. The flavors meld well overnight and it’s still mighty good. Also, if you’re in a hurry, there’s that wonderful product – pre-cooked bacon!

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