Potluck-Perfect Pasta Salad

To many Americans, Labor Day is the last vestige of the summer, a day off from work and school, and one last chance to relax. Thousands will celebrate the three-day weekend with cookouts, picnics and potluck dinners.

But Labor Day is actually a celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers. Peter McGuire, a New York City carpenter, is often called the "father" of Labor Day. He spent a decade fighting for worker's rights. In 1882, he proposed the idea to create a special holiday for workers. On Tuesday, September 5, 1882, more than 10,000 workers hit the streets of New York City for the first ever Labor Day parade. Two years later the celebration was moved to the first Monday in September. And in 1894, Congress passed a law making Labor Day a national holiday.

This was the favorite dish at our Labor Day cookout. It may sound a bit plain, but it is a tangy complement to barbecued ribs or chicken. The added bonus is how easy it is to make! This is my sister's absolute favorite salad and is our go-to recipe for all family cookouts.

1 pound orzo pasta, cooked and rinsed
1 cup mayonnaise (Duke’s preferred)
1 lemon, juiced
1 Tablespoon champagne vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)
½ cup capers
½ cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon white pepper, ground
Salt to taste

Cook orzo pasta following the instructions on the package, rinse in cool water and drain. Place pasta in a large bowl with mayonnaise, lemon juice, rice wine vinegar and pepper, and then fold together without breaking up the pasta. Add the capers and stir until evenly distributed. Add salt to taste. Add additional amounts of ingredients to taste.

Note: You can other ingredients such as green onions, shallot, celery, or even shrimp. Black olives such as Calamata will discolor the pasta.