You can tell it’s summer just by taking a look at the thermometer. That means it’s almost time to celebrate the 4th of July! Many of us celebrate with picnics and backyard barbecues. Whatever your tradition, if you’re anything like me, you are in desperate need of some new recipe ideas. I just can’t bring myself to take the same old, tired potato salad to my family gathering this year. So, I scoured the internet for fresh ideas, here are a few of the best.
Potluck Pasta Salad
What is a picnic without pasta salad? I found this yummy recipe for pasta salad with an Italian twist. Simple, fresh flavors in a quick and easy recipe. Perfect.
3 cups Farfalle (Bowtie) Pasta, cooked according to package directions and drained.
2 cups Baby Spinach Leaves
1 cup Feta (crumbled)
1 cup Grape Tomatoes
¾ cups Canned Chickpeas, Rinsed and Drained
1 cup Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
Place everything in a large bowl; mix lightly. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (Recipe & photo from www.tastykitchen.com)
If you are a home gardener (or know one), you probably have a bumper crop of cucumbers right about now. My green-thumbed dad gave us enough cucumbers to feed the neighborhood recently, and I stumbled upon this delicious recipe for cucumber dip. Cool and refreshing, this dip is perfect for a hot summer day and feeds a crowd.
2 cups, peeled, grated cucumber
1 ½ cups plain Greek yogurt
1 T chives, finely chopped
1 T basil, finely chopped
1 T dill, finely chopped
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together, chill and serve with carrots or pita chips. (photo from FamilyFun.com)
Red, White and Blue Ice Cream Sundaes
For dessert, you can’t go wrong with this festive red, white and blue ice cream sundae. Kids will love it!
1 1/2 cups strawberries or raspberries or both, plus extra for garnish
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, divided
2 teaspoons lemon juice, divided
1 1/2 cups blueberries or blackberries or both, plus extra for garnish
1 pint vanilla ice cream
Whipped cream (optional), for garnish
Maraschino cherries and/or decorative sprinkles (optional), for garnish
Purée strawberries or raspberries (or both) in a blender. Sift 1/2 cup of the confectioners’ sugar on top (depending on how sweet the berries are); blend until smooth. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice. Spoon a few tablespoons of the red berry sauce into each of 4 dessert glasses (set aside any extra sauce for garnish).
Purée blueberries or blackberries (or both) in a blender. Sift the remaining 1/2 cup of the confectioners’ sugar on top (depending on how sweet the berries are); blend until smooth. Stir in remaining 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice.
Dollop 1 scoop of the ice cream on top of red berry sauce in each glass. Top with a few tablespoons of the blueberry sauce and another scoop of ice cream (or two!). Top with fresh berries and any extra sauce. Garnish with berries, whipped cream, maraschino cherries and/or sprinkles, if you like. (Recipe & photo from www.delish.com)
Roasted Potato Salad
As for that old stand-by, potato salad, if you just can’t imagine your picnic without it,try this healthier version instead.
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 pounds small red potatoes, quartered
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
4 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 450°. To prepare potatoes, combine first 3 ingredients. Arrange evenly on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 30 minutes or until tender. Let cool. Combine potatoes, onions, parsley, and bacon.To prepare vinaigrette, combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a jar. Cover tightly; shake vigorously. Add vinaigrette to potato mixture; toss well. Serve immediately. Note: Store the vinaigrette separately and toss with the potato mixture right before serving. Don’t have a jar for the dressing? Whisk the ingredients in a small bowl, and then transfer to a sturdy zip-top plastic bag to take to the picnic. (Recipe from Cooking Light, 2005).