Longer days, plenty of sunshine and warm breezes bring out the picnicker in all of us. Pack a basket with sandwiches, salads and dessert, then head for your favorite spot. Whether it's the beach, the park or even the backyard, this is summer dining at its best.
Serve this picnic-perfect menu or make your own with these simple suggestions.
--Split a crusty bread loaf and spread with savory Old Style Sauce. Layer with lettuce, deli meats, drained sliced pickled beets and sliced cheeses.
--Chill a jar of ready-to-serve sliced pickled beets or a can of three or four bean salad for a quick side.
--Combine a can of bean salad (undrained) with cooked cheese-filled ravioli, sliced green onions and grape tomatoes; chill.
--Keep perishables cold in picnic baskets or coolers packed with frozen gel packs or ice. Store food in airtight containers or sealable food-storage bags, or wrap in plastic or aluminum foil.
--Visit www.senecafoods.com for more information. To order free recipe cards, send a self-addressed, stamped, #10 envelope to Seneca Foods Fulfillment, 3732 S. Main St., Marion, NY 14505.
Greek-Style Summer Beet Salad
1 cup diced seedless cucumber (large dice)
In large bowl, combine cucumber, celery, radishes, green onions and beets. In small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Pour dressing over vegetables; mix gently. Cover and chill until ready to serve. To serve, spoon salad into serving bowl. Sprinkle with cheese and walnuts. Makes about 4 cups (serving size 1/2 cup).
Italian Deli Picnic Sandwich
1 loaf (about 1 pound) Italian bread, unsliced
Slice bread horizontally in half with sharp serrated knife. Scoop out some of soft center from each half; reserve to use later for bread crumbs. Spread cut surface of bottom half of loaf with 1/4 cup sauce. Top with roasted peppers, cheese, spinach leaves, and meat or turkey. Spread cut surface of top half of bread loaf with remaining 1/4 cup sauce. Sprinkle with pepper, then basil. Close sandwich. Wrap sandwich in plastic wrap. Refrigerate weighted down with cast iron skillet or several heavy cans 3 to 4 hours to blend flavors. Slice with sharp serrated knife. Makes 8 servings.
Three Bean Salad Provençal
1 can (15 ounces) READ 3 bean salad
Drain bean salad, reserving liquid. In medium bowl, combine drained bean salad, artichokes, tomatoes, olives, chives, thyme and basil. In small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons reserved bean salad liquid, white wine vinegar and pepper. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Pour dressing over vegetable mixture; mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Stir well before serving. Garnish with basil. Makes about 4 cups (serving size 1/2 cup).
Three-Layer Beet Cupcakes
1 jar (15.5 ounces) Aunt Nellie's Harvard beets
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
For cupcakes, preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray bottoms and sides of 18 muffin pan cups (1/2 cup capacity) with no-stick cooking spray. Set aside. Place beets and liquid in blender jar or food processor work bowl. Blend or process until smooth. Set aside. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In large bowl, beat butter with electric mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in granulated sugar. Add eggs, one at a time; beat well after each addition. Add vanilla. Continue beating until light and fluffy. Add dry ingredients alternately with pureed beets, beginning and ending with dry ingredients; beat well after each addition. Fill prepared muffin pan cups about 3/4 full. Bake 24 to 28 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes 3 minutes in pans. Run narrow metal spatula around edges of each cup to loosen. Remove cupcakes to rack and cool completely. For frosting, beat cream cheese and butter in large mixing bowl until blended. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar. Add vanilla and pumpkin pie spice; beat until light and fluffy. Slice each cooled cupcake in half horizontally with serrated knife. Spread frosting generously on bottom halves of each cupcake. Place top halves of cupcakes on frosting, cut sides down. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate. Let stand 15 to 30 minutes at room temperature before serving. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, if desired. Makes 18 cupcakes (serving size 1 cupcake).