Picnic Recipes and Games

Make Ahead Picnic Recipe (Sidedish)

Often when we are caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we forget the simple pleasure of a leisurely afternoon picnic. However, an al fresco meal in the park can be an utterly relaxing and enjoyable experience that can make anyone forget the daily grind. With a little advanced planning, a make ahead picnic meal can be thrown together the night before and ready to enjoy the following day.

A tasty meal of pasta salad, cold cuts, and fresh fruit is ideal for preparing ahead of time and will stay fresh in a chilled ice chest. For an unexpected twist on standard deli fare, select thinly sliced, flavorful meats such as proscuitto, mortadella, and Italian dry salami. Make sure to pack a crunchy baguette and condiments like mustard and pesto for those who want to create their own sandwiches.

A delicious pasta salad is the perfect complement to cold cuts. It can be made up to two days ahead of the picnic and will store well in an airtight container. Bring plenty of plates, flatware, cups, and napkins, as well as a tablecloth.

A selection of fresh fruit is the obvious way to conclude a picnic meal. Look for easy to carry and eat fruits such as apples, oranges, grapes, and pears.

Planning a picnic doesn't need to be a complicated and tedious process. With minimal effort, you can prepare a delicious meal in a matter of minutes that will be ready to tote to the park the next day.

Basil Pasta Salad
Yields 10 servings

2 cups uncooked rotelli or bowtie pasta
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon salt
teaspoon pepper
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
1 cup chopped red or green bell pepper
cup sliced or chopped olives

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook pasta until al dente; rinse with cold water and drain. In a large bowl, mix mayonnaise, vinegar, garlic, basil, salt, and black pepper. Add pasta, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, and olives; toss to coat with dressing. Cover and refrigerate.

Note: Feel free to substitute other vegetables such as onions, jicama, zucchini, or broccoli.

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