A July 4th Picnic


A cool July 4th picnic

I don’t know about you, but I’m not having, or attending, an outdoor picnic in July unless there’s water, a boat, or impending nightfall involved. It’s just too darn hot. But for those of you who are fortunate enough to have one or all of these in your holiday plans this weekend, I’ve got a simple picnic basket-full of healthy recipes that will leave you with a relatively clean kitchen, a clean conscience, and a very happy mouth.

If you’re not making your own hummus yet, and I know there are some of you still out there, you need to start. Now. It’s so easy and SO much better and healthier than anything you can buy. My Roasted Red Pepper Hummus uses jarred red peppers, and my cooking video this month shows you how to roast them right on top of your indoor gas cooktop, if you’re so inclined. If you don’t care for roasted red peppers in your hummus, make it without them. Or add something else like sun dried tomatoes or artichoke hearts. But do make it yourself. If you don’t have a food processor, use the blender. Serve the hummus with healthy raw veggies and add some pita for those who just must have their carbs.

Next is my Greek Tortellini Salad. We went to Greece several years ago and I’ve been cooking Greek-inspired recipes ever since. This one has no mayo, so you don’t have to worry about it being left out too long. Lots of tomato, cucumber, onion, olives, and feta with a smidge of Greek dressing. (Bottled or homemade is up to you – wink, wink)

The simplest thing in your picnic basket will be cool bites of prosciutto and melon with mint. The salty prosciutto and the cool, sweet ripened cantaloupe will help keep your body temperature under 104 degrees.

And finally, for dessert, my Rustic Apple Tart. I’ve made this a million times (or maybe 10) and if you know me, you know I’m no baker. But this I make because even us non-bakers can have success. Canned pie dough. A few sliced apples. Some spices. And voila. A rustic tart. Let it cool and wrap individual wedges for all to enjoy.

Everyone should be able to pull this one off. And all of these are great served at room temp with no fear. Have a safe and happy July 4th holiday!

PS – Don’t forget your bug spray and your sparklers! Nancy

Red Pepper Hummus-2393

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Serves 6

1 can Garbanzo beans, undrained

2 Tablespoons tahini (which is sesame paste, and FYI… I’ve made hummus without it before)

1/4 cup olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

2 cloves garlic, peeled and whole

6 roasted red peppers, from a jar (or make fresh if desired)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

Toss all ingredients except olive oil into a food processor or blender and start to mix on low. Slowly add olive oil until the consistency you want is obtained. You can always add it, but you can’t take it out. Add more lemon juice or salt or pepper to satisfy your own tastes. Serve with healthy raw veggies or pita wedges or chips.

Greek Tortellini Salad-2379

Greek Tortellini Salad 

Serves 6

1 20 ounce package Buitoni three cheese tortellini

1 cucumber, peeled and sliced into cubes

16 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted

1/2 red onion, diced

4 ounces crumbled feta cheese

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Girard’s Greek Feta Vinaigrette salad dressing

Cook tortellini according to package instructions. Drain wetland allow to cool slightly and then drizzle very lightly with olive oil to keep it from sticking together. Place into large bowl and add all other ingredients, except dressing. Add dressing to taste. Toss and serve at room temperature.


Prosciutto and Melon with Mint

Serves 6

1 large ripe canteloupe

1/4 lb. good quality prosciutto

mint sprigs for garnish

Balsamic vinegar

Peel and cut cantaloupe into small squares. Wrap 1/2 piece of prosciutto around each piece of melon, and top with a mint leaf, secured with a toothpick. Place a few drops of balsamic on the plate for dipping, and serve chilled or at room temperature.

Rustic Apple Tart-2335

Rustic Apple Tart (if you really want to cheat on this one, use canned pie filling – they’ll never know

Serves 6

2 Tablespoons butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I sometimes don’t peel them and you can use canned pie filling and no one will know)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 15 ounce package refrigerated pie dough

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place first 6 ingredients in a small skillet and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool. Remove dough from package and place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Roll the dough into a 12 inch circle. Place apple mixture into the center of the dough, and fold the edges of the dough towards the center all the way around the tart. The dough will only partially cover the apple filling. Wet the edges of the dough with a bit of water and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 45 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Let cool completely and cut into wedges and serve.

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