Make the most of longer, sun-filled days--pack a picnic and head out to dine alfresco. Ease is the name of the game so keep the menu simple, but don't skimp on taste. An easy-to-make chilled soup bursts with the sweet-tangy flavor of pickled beets, and a Greek-inspired relish adds zing to everyday sandwiches. Tap into the bountiful produce of the season and take along red, ripe tomatoes filled with bean salad and fresh herbs. Finish off the meal with the sweet delight of juicy melons and succulent grapes. Simply perfect.
Bean Salad Stuffed Tomatoes
1 can (15 ounces) READ 3 or 4 Bean Salad
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
Drain bean salad, reserving 2 tablespoons liquid. Combine bean salad, celery, onion and bell pepper in large bowl; set aside. To prepare dressing, whisk together reserved liquid, mayonnaise and buttermilk in small bowl until well blended. Stir in chives, parsley and dill; season with black pepper, if desired. Set aside. Cut and remove 1/4-inch slice from top of tomatoes. Remove seeds and hollow out tomatoes leaving 1/4-inch shell. Invert onto paper towel-lined plate to drain completely. Pour dressing over bean salad mixture; toss gently to coat. Store tomato shells and bean salad separately up to 4 hours before serving. When ready to serve, stir bean salad to coat with dressing. Spoon bean salad mixture into tomato shells. Makes 4 servings.
NOTE: Recipe can be doubled.
Picnic-Wiches with Greek Artichoke-Beet Relish
1 jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie's Sliced Pickled Beets
Drain beets and artichoke hearts, reserving 1/4 cup liquid from each. Coarsely chop beets and artichoke hearts. Combine beets, artichokes, olives and green onions in medium bowl; set aside. Whisk together reserved beet and artichoke liquids in small bowl. Pour over beet mixture; toss gently to coat. Season with black pepper, if desired. Layer lettuce and turkey on bottom halves of rolls. Top with relish, feta cheese and pine nuts. Top with remaining halves of rolls. Wrap tightly; chill up to 4 hours until ready to serve. Serve with remaining relish. Makes 6 servings.
Chilled Pickled Beet Borscht
1 jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie's Whole or Sliced Pickled Beets
Drain beets, reserving liquid; chop beets. Combine reserved liquid, water, beets, carrots, if desired, and lemonade concentrate in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 5 minutes to blend flavors and until carrots are tender. Cool; refrigerate until chilled. Stir in buttermilk and dill; season with salt and pepper, if desired. Keep chilled until ready to serve. Can be made up to 1 day ahead of time. To serve, shake or stir to mix; pour into serving bowls and top with sour cream and chopped cucumber, as desired. Makes 4 servings.
--Carry the Chilled Pickled Beet Borscht in an insulated thermal container so it stays cold. Shake or stir before pouring into cups.
--Make and securely wrap sandwiches without relish. Pack the Greek Artichoke-Beet Relish in a separate container, and add to sandwiches just before serving.
--Pack stuffed tomatoes in a shallow container with a tight-fitting lid so they stand upright while transporting.
--Use frozen gel packs or ice to keep everything cold in the picnic basket or cooler.
More Perfect Picnic Ideas
Simple suggestions to complete your picnic menu.
--Chill a jar of ready-to-serve sliced pickled beets--it's a ready-in-an-instant side for an impromptu picnic.
--Add red pepper strips and sliced cucumbers to a can of 3 or 4 bean salad for extra crunch.
--Spice up bean salad by adding a shot of hot pepper sauce just before serving, or cool it down by stirring in a bit of mayonnaise.
--Visit www.senecafoods.com for more information. To order free recipes cards, send a self-addressed, stamped #10 envelope to: Seneca Foods Fulfillment, 3732 S. Main St., Marion, NY 14505.