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Gail Simmons Shares Her Favorite Labor Day Recipes

The Top Chef judge serves up delicious quesadillas and watercress salad.

Labor Day Weekend is here—and the end of the summer means it's your last chance to savor the tastes of the season. Luckily, you needn't look further than Top Chef's Gail Simmons for advice on what to cook.

The Top Chef Duels star shared some of her favorites with Haute Living ahead of the long weekend. Earlier this summer, she spoke to Us Weekly about grilling, and it seems that these newest recipe suggestions are right in line with her grilling philosophy.

"I will roast or grill any vegetable," the Top Chef judge shared back in June. "I love to grill summer squash with some salt, pepper flakes and maybe chili powder for a really easy dish. I also love grilling stone fruit as it comes into season: Apricots, plums, peaches. I'm a really big fan of making fresh summer salads and simple grilled food and doing the least possible to it."

So, if you're looking for some last-minute ideas, here is what Gail might be cooking up this weekend.

Grilled Corn & Zucchini Quesadillas with Scallions, Cilantro and Pepperjack Cheese
(serves four)
Wine suggestions: Try it paired with Estancia Monterey County Chardonnay
1 ear of corn, shucked
Canola oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium zucchini, sliced on the sharp diagonal 1/8-inch thick (16 slices)
8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Pepperjack cheese
4 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on diagonal (1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
Preheat a grill to medium-high. Rub corn with oil and season with salt and pepper; grill, turning, until lightly charred all over, six to eight minutes total. Let cool slightly, then cut the kernels off cob.
Brush zucchini with oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill until tender, about three minutes per side. Lay tortillas on a work surface. Leaving a 3/4-inch border, top evenly with cheese, corn, zucchini, scallions and cilantro then fold each tortilla over to form half moons. Grill quesadillas until cheese is melted, turning once, five minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board; cut into wedges. Garnish with cilantro. Serve hot.

Watercress & Goat Cheese Salad with Green Apple and Toasted Nuts and Honey Vinaigrette
(Serves four)
Wine suggestions: Try it paired with Estancia Monterey County Chardonnay
1/3 cup almonds or hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 bunches watercress, tough stems removed
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
3 ounces mild goat cheese, crumbled
In a small skillet, toast nuts over medium heat, watching closely and shaking pan evenly, until lightly golden, about three minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice and honey; in a slow and steady stream, whisk in oil. Season with generous pinch salt and pepper. Add watercress, apple and nuts; toss to coat.

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[Sources: Haute Living]

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