The Art of the Picnic
Tips, Tricks, & Techniques
Recipes for Your Summer Picnic
I love picnics. I usually go “all out” and pack too much! Remember whatever containers you use, you have to carry back! Try a vinegar based dressing for your pasta or potato salads like the one I have featured here!
1 pound small pasta (elbows, farfalle, cavatappi or similar shapes)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pint grape tomatoes
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups loosely packed spring mix
1 cup basil
1 ounce shaved Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions and cool.
In a food processor, blend yellow onion, lemon juice, zest, walnuts, red pepper flakes and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of olive oil; process until smooth Add the Parmesan and Basil. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Assemble the salad:
Toss together tomatoes, red onion and peas. Add pesto (and olive oil left from making pesto, if desired). At this point, you have a great salad base prepared and can add greens later to keep them from getting soggy.
Add a cooked chicken breast or salmon fillet to this salad for an easy weeknight dinner.
Dipping Sauce (Yield approximately 1 cup)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar [seasoned? Unseasoned?]Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 jalapeño, finely chopped (seeds optional)
8 rice paper circles (approximately 8-inch diameter)
Fresh mint, basil or cilantro to taste
Arugula or other spring greens mix
Shredded carrots, radishes, cucumbers
Whisk together all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Chill.
Assemble the rolls:
Add enough very warm water to a 9x11-inch cake pan to fill it halfway. Place a kitchen towel on a cutting board, and have all spring roll ingredients at hand.
Place a rice paper circle in the warm water until the paper just begins to soften, about 15 seconds; remove and place on the towel. Layer filling ingredients in center of the paper and roll up like a burrito. (You will have to work rather quickly. Place the rolls on a plate and cover with a damp towel. Repeat with remaining rice paper circles until all rolls are assembled. Store in the refrigerator.
The assembly process works best if you make one roll at a time. After a while, with practice, you’ll be able to have several pans of water out to soften more rice papers at a time.
Don’t worry if your first attempt doesn’t work well: keep trying until you get a feel for the process.
4-1/2 cups seeded, coarsely chopped cucumbers (about 4 medium)
4 cups cold water
2 cups ice cubes
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup fresh lime juice
2 generous pinches of salt
Additional ice cubes
Mint, diced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, lemon, parsley, celery sticks
In a blender, combine 2-1/4 cups chopped cucumbers, 2 cups water, 1 cup ice cubes, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup lime juice and 1 pinch of salt. Blend until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth but slushy, about 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to a pitcher. Repeat with remaining cucumbers, water, ice cubes, sugar, lime juice and salt.
Place additional ice cubes in 8 tall glasses and fill with agua fresca.
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 6-ounce can frozen lemonade concentrate – thawed
1 6-ounce container non-dairy frozen topping – thawed
1 deep dish graham cracker crust (10 – 12 inches)
Lemon zest or slices for garnish
In a mixing bowl using a hand mixer, or in a stand mixer – blend cream cheese until smooth. Blend in condensed milk, then thawed lemonade concentrate. Fold in whipped topping.
Pour filling into graham cracker crust. Chill pie for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Before serving, garnish with lemon zest or slices.
Pie can be frozen and served as a “cold” dessert.
It is easy to double this recipe, especially since lemonade concentrate also comes in larger cans, as does whipped topping. Freeze one for later, or give one to a friend.