By Teresa Marrone
Summer is the best time of the year to enjoy fresh, local vegetables and good, easy food, and a picnic is the perfect way to do it. The picnic-friendly recipes that follow are written to serve four, but can be easily adapted for a larger crowd by simply increasing the ingredients proportionally; unlike recipes for baked goods or other fussy foods, salad recipes are very forgiving and easy to tinker with. The Pan Bagna sandwich makes a great main event, paired with a few of the vegetable salads; if cold chicken or grilled burgers are on the menu instead, try the Grilled Tomato, Onion, and Bread Salad along with one or two of the vegetable salads for a perfect meal.
Pumpkin seed oil is featured in some of these recipes. Unlike the more traditional olive oil, pumpkin seed oil is produced here in the Upper Midwest. Hay River Foods in Prairie Farms, Wisconsin, lightly toasts organic pumpkin seeds before cold-pressing them to produce a richly colored, fruity oil that’s superb whisked into salad dressings, drizzled on grilled meat or fish, or poured into a bowl to use as a bread dip. In addition to great flavor, pumpkin seed oil provides a good amount of healthful omega 3 and 6 acids. It’s available at Golden Fig Fine Foods (St. Paul), The Produce Exchange (Midtown Global Market), and some co-ops. On the high side of $25 for a bottle that holds just over a cup, this stuff probably isn’t going to replace olive oil in all your cooking, but its bold flavor allows a little to go a long way.