Summer Picnic as heard on KOMO

Summer Picnic Recipes – as heard on KOMO Radio
Oven-Baked Parmesan Chicken Breasts with Bruschetta Tomato Topping
New Century Overnight Layered Salad
Curried Orzo Spinach Salad

You can pack up a picnic basket for a day at the beach or take theses dishes over to a friend’s house when you’re asked to “bring something.” All the recipes are easy and tasty. And another appealing feature is that they’re intended to be eaten chilled or at “room temp,” that is, slightly tempered from their ice-cold storage temperatures. The weather’s hot—you want the food cold! So, don’t forget to slip in plenty of ice packs.

Foods which will be eaten chilled should generally be seasoned a bit more highly than food which will be served hot. So, for my Oven-Baked Parmesan Chicken Breasts with Bruschetta Tomato Topping, I’ve incorporated tangy Dijon mustard—and be sure to use a really high-quality, full-flavored Parmesan. With its crunchy, savory crust, the chicken breast, thinly sliced, is wonderful atop nutty arugula then topped in turn with juicy bruschetta-style tomatoes.

You can make the components in advance—then separately pack up the arugula, the chilled chicken, and the topping ingredients in plastic containers in a cooler or insulated bag. Tuck a small cutting board and good knife in with your non-refrigerated items, then slice the chicken when you assemble the dish on site.

Big flavors are especially good to meld into summer salads, and a pasta version is always a sure bet. My Curried Orzo Spinach Salad, with exotic pistachios and sweet-tart apricots would be a fine partner to grilled lamb, chicken, or salmon.

This pasta salad is at its best when tossed together an hour or two in advance and is still tasty up to 24 hours later, but I wouldn’t make it farther ahead than that. The secrets to delicious pasta salads are bold flavors, correctly cooked pasta, and combining the ingredients just early enough to let the flavors “marry.” If the various components are mixed too soon, the salad may “bland out.” The salt in the dressing can leach moisture from the vegetables and the salad may become bland and watery. Or, even more often in my experience, the pasta absorbs most of the dressing and a dry, flavorless salad results.

And you can never go wrong with a great potato salad. My recipe for Mediterranean Red Potato Salad with Feta Vinaigrette is big flavored but lighter than traditional mayo based salad.

Whether you pick several of these dishes to build a picnic menu or just choose a favorite to carry along to a friend’s pot luck barbecue, these recipes offer you a scrumptious selection of palatable portables for any summer soiree.

Oven-Baked Parmesan Chicken Breasts with Bruschetta Tomato Topping

You can bake the chicken the day before serving, then slice and serve the chilled chicken with the fresh tomato topping.

Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons butter, melted
4 boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves
1 1/4 cups shredded, high-quality Parmesan cheese

Bruschetta Topping
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped vine-ripe tomatoes (about 2 medium tomatoes)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

1 bunch fresh arugula, washed and spun dry

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Whisk Dijon and melted butter together in a medium bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat well. Sprinkle half of the Parmesan onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Place chicken breasts on cheese, then dab the pieces around so the bottom surfaces pick up all the cheese. Repeat with remaining Parmesan, pressing the other sides of the chicken breasts into the cheese, so both sides are nicely coated.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, lay out chicken pieces, spaced apart. Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear. Remove from oven and let cool before removing from pan. Then refrigerate until ready to serve.

To assemble the topping and serve the chicken: In a medium bowl, combine all the bruschetta ingredients. Slice the chilled chicken in 1/2-inch diagonal slices against the grain, being careful not to disturb the Parmesan coating. Arrange the arugula on a large platter and top with sliced chicken. Spoon the bruschetta topping down the center of the chicken. Garnish by sprinkling with a little shaved or shredded Parmesan cheese if desired. © 2004 Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Curried Orzo Spinach Salad

Makes 8 – 12 servings

1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon hot sauce
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/3 cup sour cream or yogurt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound (about 2 cups) dry orzo pasta
1 bunch fresh spinach, cleaned and cut in 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 large yellow bell pepper, diced small
1 large red bell pepper, diced small
1/2 cup tiny-diced red onions
3/4 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup small-diced dried apricots

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, curry powder, hot sauce, garlic, sour cream, oil, and black pepper. Reserve.

Meanwhile, cook orzo according to package directions or until al dente. Drain but do not rinse. While pasta is still fairly warm, toss it with the reserved dressing. Let mixture totally cool, then toss in remaining ingredients. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate if made ahead. Salad can be made up to 24 hours in advance. © 2004 Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Mediterranean Red Potato Salad with Feta Vinaigrette
Makes 8 cups

2 pounds red potatoes, cut in 1-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup halved pitted calamata olives
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1 small green pepper, diced
1/2 cup tiny-diced red onion
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup crumbled cheese)
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Steam potatoes until very tender, about 12 – 14 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl make the dressing by whisking together the vinegar, olive oil, Dijon, oregano, salt and pepper.

When potatoes are still warm, toss them with the dressing and set aside until cool, then stir in the remaining ingredients.
© 2008 Kathy Casey Food Studios®


Posted by Kathy on May 22nd, 2008  |  Comments Off on Summer Picnic as heard on KOMO |  Posted in Restaurants, Dishing with Kathy Casey Blog, KOMO Radio, poultry, Recent Posts, Recipes, sides

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