Here are some easy side dish recipes to make for your Labor Day cookout.

Rice Done Two Ways:

Starting with cooked rice, these recipes take very different turns in the flavor department. One plays up the best parts of a taco while the other goes more continental with blue cheese, pesto and sun dried tomatoes.

Both are delicious and both can be thrown together in under 30 minutes—Making them perfect side dishes for your Labor Day cook-out.

Taco Rice
5 cups cooked and cooled rice
½ to 1 packet taco seasoning (to taste)
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
4 large green onions, trimmed and sliced (use the whole onion from white to dark green)
2 cups chopped iceberg or Romaine lettuce
1-2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups chopped ripe tomatoes
1 cup sliced black olives
1-2 jalapenos, diced (optional for heat)

Stir together rice, taco seasoning, garlic powder and salt until seasonings are evenly distributed.
Stir in all other ingredients until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve room temp or cold.

Continental Rice
½ cup pecan pieces, toasted
3 oz pesto sauce
10 sundried tomatoes packed in oil
2 tablespoons oil from the sundried tomatoes’ jar
¼ - ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
5 cups cooked and cooled rice
1, 15 oz can artichoke hearts, quartered
1 cup chopped, fresh parsley

Toast pecans just until you can smell them then set them aside to cool.

Use a small food processor to mix together the pesto, sundried tomatoes, their oil and blue cheese. If you don’t have a food processor, a good blender should work, or just chop the tomatoes very finely and whisk together with pesto, oil and cheese.

Stir the pesto mixture into the rice until well combined then add in toasted pecans and artichoke hearts. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve chilled or room temp.