Pack a Patriotic Picnic
Fourth of July is never celebrated exactly the same for me, but it always makes me nostalgic for my New England childhood roots. I am a sea and sand girl at heart, but on Independence Day there is something nice about celebrating on a blanket spread on bright green grass, by a band playing classic Americana, with a picnic. Boston has the Commons, Washington DC has the Mall and LA has Americafest. Although I have to admit it is not something I think about enough, I do feel lucky to be an American; and the reason we are celebrating should be thought about as much as the festivities that go along with it. In honor, I’m packing a red, white and blue picnic, replete with delicious and healthful fixins’ to savor the day. While taste and health is foremost in my planning, you’ll notice the picnic is all about the preparation and the recipes are casual – you don’t need to measure or stress over the oven. Set yourself up for fun by spending a few minutes planning and you can relax the whole day long. Join me in spirit, wherever you are in the country, and lay back on your blanket as we oooh and aaah to the fireworks.
Picnic supply list:
- Picnic blanket
- Hand sanitizer and wipes
- Frisbee, balls, playing cards, books/magazines, water guns
- Paper towels/napkins
- Paper plates, forks, serving spoons, spoons and cups
- Bag for trash
For the cooler:
- Patriotic Fruit salad – Red (raspberries or strawberries) White (apples) Blue (blueberries). I like to add a splash of fresh lemon to really bring out the flavors and keep it fresh.
- Freedom Greens* – Salad made with Arugula, red cherry tomatoes, red potatoes, red onions, sliced thin, white hard boiled eggs, Nicoise olives, grilled asparagus and albacore tuna (look for the pouches that do not need to be drained or refrigerated), blue dried blueberries, lemon wedges.
- 4th of July Pie (see recipe)
* For the freedom greens, I bring the ingredients deconstructed and let guests assemble their own salad on their plates. This lunch is delicious and super healthy. It also stays in the cooler for a longer amount of time than most entrees, so you don’t have to stress about food safety as much. You can play with it: add artichokes, avocado or your favorite salad ingredients. Dress with lemon.
For the picnic basket:
- Firecracker spiced nuts (see recipe)
- Independence appetizer – Blue and white tortilla chips (choose organic, low sodium) and red (tomato) salsa. You can make your own chips by baking corn tortillas the night before. For this appetizer, play on the red, white and blue theme with other things to dip in your salsa – for example jicima and fennel are white and more healthful than the chips; or go for blue chips, chips such as Food Should Taste Good blue corn tortilla chips. Blue foods are hard to find, so be creative!
Firecracker Spiced Nuts
Time: 5 active minutes, 50 minutes total
- 2 Tablespoons Orange Juice
- 2 Tablespoons 5 Spice Chinese Powder*
- ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 2 cups raw nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts or any combination)
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit
- Combine orange juice, Chinese powder and salt in a large bowl and add the nuts. Toss to coat them well. Spread on a rimmed cookie sheet to make an even layer
- Bake, stirring every 15 minutes until they are dry. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
* Chinese powder is a combination of cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns. Find it in the spice isle at the supermarket.
4th of July Pie
Time: 20 minutes
- 4 oz crème fraiche
- 4 oz fat free sour cream
- 16 oz low fat strawberry yogurt
- 1 pint Strawberries, sliced lengthwise
- 4 clear cups
- Mix the crème fraiche, sour cream and yogurt together. For the picnic, store in an airtight container in your cooler until you are ready to serve.
- When you are ready to serve, layer the yogurt mixture, the strawberries, the yogurt, the blueberries in the cups to make a beautiful parfait. Garnish with a few extra berries.
Don’t forget to set your playlist with America the Beautiful, Yankee Doodle and the Star Spangled Banner. Have a happy 4th of July, my fellow patriots. I hope your whole day is firecracker-tastic.Posted on: Jun 27, 2012