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Extension Education Highlight: Summer picnic recipes

 Image of a picnic laid out on a blanket
Kampus Production
Image of a picnic laid out on a blanket

Recipes below.

Sariah Israelsen: Welcome back to USU Extension Educational Highlight. I'm Sariah Israelsen, and joining me today is Teresa Hunsaker, USU Extension educator emeritus, and she's going to be talking to us today about some summer picnic recipes that she's picked out for us. I'm so glad you're here, Teresa.

Teresa Hunsaker: Oh, thanks for having me. I am so excited about these recipes. I really am.

Sariah Israelsen: I'm excited for them too. I can't count how many times I've wanted to go out and have a picnic and I didn't have a yummy recipe that's quick and easy. So I'm excited for you get started on these ones.

And I know you've sent me about five recipes. And I'd love if you would just focus on two or three of them that you for sure want people to try.

Teresa Hunsaker: You bet. Absolutely. Let's start with the bowtie salad.

This is a pasta salad with a little bit different twist in that it has more of a Mediterranean feel to it. And it's fast. You cook the pasta, your bow tie pasta. Rise to cool it down quickly. And then in the meantime, while that's cooling you add olives, mozzarella balls, cucumber, some cherry tomatoes, red onion, basil, some baby spinach.

And then what makes it really quick to is that you just use a small bottle of balsamic vinaigrette. I know a lot of people who go to the Italian dressing, but if they'll go to the balsamic, oh my goodness, it's just a nice addition.

And then top it with some crumbled feta cheese, and off you go. And there's no mayonnaise in it so we don't have to be quite as concerned. We still want to keep foods chilled and things like that. But this bowtie salad is so fast and so easy and so fun.

And then another one, you know, sometimes you want a little something as far as a sandwich but you don't want maybe always a traditional ham and cheese kind of sandwich. And so why not make a veggie sandwich that's done in a tortilla or on ciabatta bread or in a pita?

So the really fun thing about this one is you take some avocado, you mash them up, and you add some pesto to it. And then you just spread the smashed avocado pesto mixture on and then layer on the vegetables that you want: cucumber, tomato, red onion, some mozzarella cheese if you want to use on it and then some fresh spinach.

But the kicker on this that makes the whole sandwich totally come together is this canned, roasted red peppers that you put on it and then some black olives. So a real quick sandwich very easy to do. And again, you want it to stay chilled but it doesn't have to be ice cold.

Teresa Hunsaker: And then probably the third, and my all time favorite that I just had this at a barbecue so I can tell you it is so yummy. And that is a Mexican street corn salad.

What you do and my favorite way to do it is to actually take fresh corn on the cob that you grill with a little bit of olive oil and seasoning on it tell it's kind of charred and then you pull it off the cob, but you can use, and the recipe will tell you this, you can use the frozen corn.

But it has the cotija cheese crumbled into the salad along with the corn cut off the cops and green onions, some cilantro red pepper, jalapeno, garlic, a little bit of mayonnaise, but not very much. And then some lime juice, smoked paprika is the kind of tip here that you definitely want that smoky flavor to come across. And again, chill that down and you've got a fabulous picnic salad in this Mexicans to be supposed to be the three that I would highlight.

Bowtie Salad

1 large chopped bell pepper, any color
1 can medium olives, cut in half
2 cups Mozzarella balls
2 medium cucumber, ½ inch cubes
2 cups sliced cherry tomatoes
1 small red onion, chopped or sliced
¼ cup chopped basil
1 lb. bowtie pasta, cooked al dente, drained and cooled
2 cups baby spinach
1 small bottle Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 cup crumbled feta cheese as topping, if desired.

Cook pasta, cool, and refrigerate until other salad ingredients are prepared. In a large mixing bowl combine all remaining ingredients and toss with vinaigrette. Toss together with pasta and serve topped with crumbled feta cheese if desired.

Veggie Sandwich—in a tortilla, on ciabatta bread, or in a pita

2 avocado, smashed
2 TBS basil pesto
6 slices of cucumber, cut thinly
3 thick slices of tomato (any kind is fine)
½ small red onion, cut thinly
6 slices mozzarella cheese, optional
2 cups fresh spinach, lightly chopped
2 slices of canned, roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
2 tbsp chopped black olives

Mix together the pesto and the smashed avocado. Spread on tortilla or chosen bread.

Layer cucumber slices on top, fitting them across the bread with a slight overlap. Next, add tomato, red onion pieces, and any and all other sandwich filling veggies.

Wrap sandwich in parchment if desired, tying with a piece of twine for a picnic vibe.

Mexican Street Corn Salad

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, or olive oil
4 ears fresh corn, shucked, kernels removed (about 3-4 cups fresh corn kernels)
2 ounces Cotija cheese, finely crumbled (can use feta if desired)
½ cup finely sliced green onion
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, cleaned and finely chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and stemmed, finely chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced (about 1 to 2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoon fresh lime juice, from 1 lime (can also use some zest of the lime as well)
¼ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cumin (optional, as some people don’t like cumin)
Chile powder or hot chile flakes, to taste

Preheat a grill to medium-high heat. Brush the corn with olive oil and grill for 2 minutes per side, or until char marks form. Remove from grill, cool, and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the mayo, garlic, and lime juice. Slice the kernels off the corn and add to the bowl along with the green onions. Stir to coat, then add the cheese, cilantro, smoked paprika, red pepper, jalapeño, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Season to taste and serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

NOTE: Frozen or canned corn may be substituted for easy prep. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan on medium high and add corn. Cook until slightly charred, approximately 7-10 minutes. Add to large bowl and set aside until ready to mix the salad.

White Bean Pesto Hummus

1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans, or Great Northern White Beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon lemon zest
2 small garlic cloves
½ teaspoon salt
1 tsp sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
2 to 4 tablespoons water, as needed
2-3 TBS prepared pesto

In a food processor, pulse the cannellini (white beans) beans, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic, salt, sugar, and pepper until combined. With the food processor running, slowly add the water and process until smooth. Blend in the pesto last.

Serve with veggies, bagettes, ciabatta bread, or pita.


Watermelon, basil leaves, balsamic vinegar
Cherry tomato, mozzarella balls, cubed or sliced salami, basil leaves, balsamic vinegar, pitted kalamata olives