There's more to picnics than potato salad and coleslaw
There seems to be some discrepancy about whether July or August is National Picnic Month. Whoever picked either one of those sweltering months clearly didn't live in the South.
In my book, now is picnic weather.
I've always loved picnics, even if I'm only packing a few things at the last minute and heading down the street to the park.
That's exactly what we did Easter Sunday. We mistakenly thought we'd be alone.
Apparently throngs of like-minded picnickers had the same need for escape. Ruskin's E. G. Simmons Park was hopping.
I'm pretty sure we nabbed the last available picnic table. It was perched on the roadside, so we had a prime view of the parade of vehicles coming and going, a sure sign that dining alfresco is still very much in vogue. And it's also a sign that next time we'll reserve a more picturesque spot.
Personally, I like to keep things simple. The night before, we made a brief stop to Publix for some fried chicken. If that doesn't scream “simple,” I don't know what does.
And instead of bringing along potato salad or coleslaw, since Mom doesn't like mayo, I made a tabbouleh salad filled with fresh parsley, vegetables, lemon juice and quinoa.
Quinoa offers the sort of complete protein any mother would approve of. It's tasty, toasty and quickly cooked. The salad I made tasted quite yummy after it had been in the fridge about an hour or so. It was a huge hit.
I might have pushed the quinoa-mother connection thing a step too far, though, when I made a quinoa pasta salad. All I can say about this concoction is thankfully no one else sampled it before I shoved it back into the cooler.
And what better to beat the heat than an ice cold glass of pink lemonade? My combination of fresh-squeezed lemons and pureed strawberries made for a perfect, pretty, sweet-tart summer drink.
There's something charming about a picnic, but whenever you go, don't forget about food safety. It's usually OK to keep food at room temperature for an hour or two, but in really warm weather, I wouldn't push it past 60 minutes.
After we ate, we played a few board games, relaxed and enjoyed each other's company. It was a perfect way to spend a perfect day.
Sounds like a nice time for a picnic, eh?
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, diced
2 bunches green onions, diced
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add quinoa and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow it to cool to room temperature; fluff with a fork.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine olive oil, sea salt, lemon juice, tomatoes, cucumber, green onions and parsley. Stir in cooled quinoa.
Lynn Kessel is a freelance food columnist and blogger. For more of her recipes, visit southshore.tbo.com and enter the search words Lynn Kessel or look for her blog at www.lynnkessel.blogspot.com.