Spring has finally arrived, and summer is hot on its heels, which means we get to pack up our picnic baskets and enjoy dining with loved ones outside. Planning on spending summer weekends at a nearby reservoir or weekday evenings catching the sunset sprawled on a blanket at the park? These creative and easy recipes make dining outdoors simple, fun, and healthy.
Grilled Veggie Skewers
Colorado’s Farmers Markets are bursting with fresh produce, making this recipe simple, fresh, and seasonal. Cut up your favorite veggies (such as bell peppers, zucchini, onions, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, etc.) and thread them onto skewers. Brush them with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs. Grill until charred and tender. For a twist on the classic veggie skewer, try this recipe, which incorporates a tangy chimichurri sauce.
Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate Seeds
An ancient grain, quinoa is a super food that goes with just about anything. Roast your favorite veggies, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and Brussels sprouts, and toss them with cooked quinoa, chopped kale, pomegranate seeds, feta cheese, and a lemon-tahini dressing. Make this recipe ahead of time for a fantastic, filling, and healthy side to go along with picnic mains. Swap out different ancient grains to try instead, like farro, amaranth, or barley, as the base of this dish.
Watermelon Feta Salad
This popular picnic fruit salad is turned on its head with the addition of arugula or spicy greens. The sweetness of the watermelon cuts the tanginess of the feta while the balsamic glaze pairs beautifully with each element. Cube watermelon and toss with crumbled feta cheese, chopped mint, and a balsamic glaze. Serve over your favorite farm-fresh salad greens. Get the recipe here.
This main dish makes a great go-to picnic lunch because it’s simple and easy to pack. Spread hummus on a warm whole-wheat wrap and add sliced cucumber, tomato, red onion, feta cheese, and roasted red pepper. To make this Mediterranean wrap a little more gourmet, consult Chelsea’s Messy Apron, which adds sun dried tomatoes, preserved lemon, and greek olives. If you’re craving a little more protein, add pre-made falafel and drizzle with tzatziki. Roll up and enjoy!
Orecchiette with Pesto Dressing
Scratch-make your very own orecchiette with The Pasta Project to create the freshest pasta salad you’ve ever tasted. Once cooked, toss the “little ears” with pesto, preserved lemon, sun dried tomatoes, chopped up cured meats, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. Check out the dozens of pasta salad variations and find a recipe that speaks to you, here.
Chocolate chip cookies are always a hit, but have you ever considered bringing a fresh berry tart to the picnic? Snag some mini tart shells and fresh berries next time you’re at the store and use pantry ingredients for the rest of this simple yet decadent dessert. This recipe instructs home chefs to fill mini tart shells with a mixture of cream cheese, honey, and vanilla extract. Top with fresh berries (such as raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries) and serve chilled. Whip up fresh cream to top the whole thing off.
These fresh takes on classic picnic recipes may just compel you and your pals to schedule weekly parkside rendezvous. Make them ahead of time to enjoy an impromptu meet up, complete with a blanket, picnic basket, healthy eats, and the great outdoors.
The Independence Community makes it easy for residents to embrace the longer days and Colorado’s picturesque landscapes because of our close proximity to nature. Numerous parks, miles of trails, and unobstructed views of the Rocky Mountains offer daily reminders of how close and how necessary nature is to our livelihoods. Contact us today to learn more about our welcoming community.