Summertime is the best time for relaxing and having fun in the sun. One of my favorite summertime activities is having a picnic.
Whether it’s a romantic afternoon date or just an afternoon with the girls, a picnic is classic; but picnic food is generally quick and can sometimes lack flavor. It’s time to spice up classic picnic dishes with a variety of herbs! Try these recipes from our July 2006 article Picnic Ideas and Recipes. Also try our Garlic Mayonnaise and our Herb Fried Chicken.
Iced Herb Gazpacho
This healthy, easy summer recipe is best when it’s made from garden-fresh ingredients. Chill for at least an hour or two before serving.
• 6 large tomatoes
• 4 cloves fresh garlic, pressed
• 1/2 cucumber
• 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 2 scallions, chopped
• 3 sprigs basil leaves
• 3 sprigs cilantro leaves
• 3 sprigs parsley leaves
• Salt and pepper
1. In a food-processor bowl, roughly purée the tomatoes, garlic, cucumber, red pepper flakes, vinegar and oil.
2. Add scallions and herbs, then pulse just until they’re chopped. (If you let the machine run, you’ll end up with a brownish mess.)
3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. If possible, chill overnight before serving so the flavors can blend.
Photo by Norma Desmond/ Courtesy Flickr
Fresh Tarragon Potato Salad
Redolent with fresh garlic and tarragon, this unusual blend adds a touch of country French to an American picnic table. Substitute fresh dill or cilantro if you don’t like tarragon.
• 4 large russet potatoes
• Apple cider vinegar
• 1 batch Garlic Mayonnaise, or to taste
• 1/3 to 1/2 cup whole fresh tarragon leaves, stripped from stems
• 1 red onion or several scallions, chopped
• Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Cook and peel the potatoes. Dice them when they’re nearly cooled and douse them liberally with apple cider vinegar. (Pouring on vinegar while the potatoes are still warm allows the vinegar to soak in.)
2. Add Garlic Mayo, fresh tarragon, chopped onion and salt and pepper.
3. Mix thoroughly and refrigerate over-night to allow flavors to blend.
Peppermint is the only mint with enough oomph to stand up to chocolate. Use fresh-chopped peppermint leaves or, in a pinch, substitute store-bought peppermint extract. Making this in a small-capacity slow cooker is a foolproof way to melt the chocolate.
• 3 cups chocolate chips
• ¼ cup butter (½ stick)
• 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
• 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
• ½ cup fresh peppermint leaves, chopped
1. In the crock of a small slow cooker, melt chocolate, butter and condensed milk on the low setting. Check and stir from time to time until all chocolate is melted and smooth.
2. Gently stir in walnuts and peppermint leaves. (The peppermint must be completely dry when you drop it into the chocolate.)
3. Pour the mix into a 9-by-9-inch baking pan lined with aluminum foil. Place the pan in the refrigerator until hard, then remove and pull fudge out by tugging gently on aluminum foil. Invert fudgeon a wooden cutting board or counter and gently peel off aluminum foil.
4. Cut the fudge using a 10-inch chef’s knife with blade heated under hot running water.
So grab a basket full of these goodies and head to your favorite park or beach for a tasty afternoon! Leave a comment and let me know what kinds of recipes you prepare for your picnic!