Labor Day offers up the perfect chance to organize a get-together and catch up on how everyone’s summer has been. It might not be the moment for a large-scale cook-up, so having a repertoire of cold side dishes is something which is essential for anyone who enjoys having friends over at this time of year.

What’s more, these side dishes provide the perfect opportunity to get creative on a more subtle scale and show off the nuances of our kitchen craft. From scintillating sushi recipes to RiceSelectⓇ Royal BlendⓇ recipes, read on to find out how to make your cold side dishes stand out on this September 4th.

All About Orzo

If you haven’t cooked with orzo yet, then it’s time to get in on the action. Hailing from the Mediterranean, orzo is a small oval-shaped pasta which bears a strong resemblance to rice. In terms of preparation, it cooks in 8-10 minutes much like most other pasta varieties.

Although it’s often used to add substance to soups, or as a substitute for rice, orzo is perhaps best employed in cold salad recipes. Its relatively simple preparation process allows for the home chef to work on getting the flavor combinations for the salad just right, as seen in this fragrant and refreshing recipe for Minted Orzo Tomatoes, which is sure to have your fellow diners reaching for seconds.


Possibly the most popular cold dish on the planet, sushi is sure to be a hit at any Labor Day gathering. However, the mystique surrounding its preparation is enough to dissuade most would-be chefs from trying their hand at it. But if you’re reading this then you are not like most home chefs! Although there is undoubtedly some technique required to make truly delicious sushi, it’s not as difficult as the myths surrounding it would have you believe.

Sushi Essentials

  1. Choosing the right rice for sushi is essential, with short grain rice being the most suitable due to its sticky texture once cooked.

  2. Spread the rice out evenly over the nori sheet before you begin rolling.

  3. Chop your ingredients evenly; whether they be fish or vegetables, they need to be the same size in order to fit evenly.

  4. Leave enough space on one side of the nori sheet for you to grip it before you begin rolling.

  5. Tightly wrap the nori roll in plastic wrap film before slicing it.

  6. Dispense with the Nori! There’s a common misconception that all sushi comes wrapped in nori seaweed sheets. Although it’s an extremely popular variety, this is not a steadfast rule, as this delectable recipe for Shrimp Finger Sushi demonstrates.

How to Make Sushi for Vegans and Vegetarians

Yet another myth about sushi is that the word derives from the Japanese for raw fish. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The word ‘sushi’ actually comes from the Japanese words for vinegar and rice, owing to its preparation technique. In fact, sushi couldn’t be more vegan and vegetarian friendly! Just look at how cucumber, red and green bell peppers and white Chinese radish combine in this recipe for Vegetarian Sushi Rolls.

Royal Blend Rice Recipes

Rice salad isn’t just a more filling alternative to your typical leaf salad. Depending on the grains you use, it can be much more than that. That’s why the RiceSelect® Royal Blend® combines four fragrant grain varieties to infuse your meals with unique and intriguing flavors. See for yourself how the combination transforms this humble Chicken Salad recipe into something truly special.


To bring some flavor of the Andes to your Labor day creativity, consider adding a quinoa dish to your cold side repertoire. This nutty, aromatic grain is great for bringing competing flavors in harmony with each other. In this Chicken Apple and Parsley Tri-color Quinoa Salad you’ll love how the sweet and sour flavors of craisins, lemon and apple combine beautifully with the succulent and savory chicken.

Chef’s Tip

Don’t be afraid to mix sweet with savory! There are plenty of fruits that not only complement meat dishes, but actually elevate them. Here are a few flavorful combinations to get your creative juices flowing:

  1. Pork: Apples, Pomegranate,dried figs and pears

  2. Beef: Plums, peaches and prunes

  3. Lamb: Cranberries, raisins, dates

  4. Chicken: Lemon, oranges and apricot

  5. Venison: Cherries, prunes, blackberries


If you’re thinking of preparing a cold side for your guests, don’t settle for just your typical blend of leaves and store dressing. Dare to prepare! Unlock the potential of your greens by preparing a Pearl Couscous accompaniment for them that accentuates their flavor and adds substance and texture to the dish. This recipe for Green Goddess Pearl Couscous salad does precisely that. With a fragrant blend of basil, dill, parsley and mint, this is the kind of salad that grabs people’s attention.


As your Labor Day gathering comes to a close, there’s no better way to put a smile on the faces of your guests than to surprise them with a dessert that will make your kitchen game the talk of the table. This Sweet Sticky Rice with Mango and Coconut recipe is certain to please and intrigue in equal measure.

Kitchen Tip

The best rice to use for sticky rice desserts is usually a short grain rice like RiceSelect® Sweet Sticky Dessert Rice. For more tips on how to make the most of this delicious dessert, read our comprehensive guide to How to Prepare the Best Sticky Rice.

Make your Labor Day Sides a Labor of Love!

Now that you’ve got some inspiration, take your cold dishes to the next level and add your chef’s touch. At RiceSelect® we want every home chef to be the best they can be, so stay ahead of the game with our essential guides and chef’s tips.