Thursday, October 9, 2008

Picnic Dinner Date!

My kitchen is currently torn to pieces as we do a complete overhaul, so Celeste was nice enough to host us even though it was my turn to cook for our dinner date! This meant that I wanted a meal that could be entirely prepared ahead of time (in my parents' kitchen!)... so I came up with foods ideal for a picnic!

Tri-Color Sandwiches with Pink Potato Salad

Tri-Color Sandwiches
Prep time: 15 minutes

1 cup baby carrots
1/4 cup shelled walnuts
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp plain yogurt
1/4 tsp salt
Pesto (store-bought or homemade)
Whole wheat bread

In a food processor, grind together the baby carrots and walnuts until finely ground together, 2-3 minutes. Scoop out the carrots and set aside. Give the processor a quick wipe down and then grind together the chickpeas, olive oil, yogurt, and salt until a smooth paste forms, 2-3 minutes.

On one slice of bread, spread a generous helping of the carrots. Carefully top with a generous layer of the chickpea puree. Spread a scant layer of pesto on another piece of bread, and sandwich together.

Pink Potato Salad
Prep time: er....

My kids were wild while I was making the potato salad so I have no idea how much time it needed to take. It took some time, but most of it was hands-off (waiting for things to boil or cool), so it wasn't bad. It should ideally be made a day ahead of time for maximum flavor.

4 red-skinned potatoes (or 2 larger potatoes), scrubbed and chopped
1 small beet, scrubbed but not peeled
1 dill pickle, diced
2 tsp brine from the dill pickles
6 oz Greek-style plain yogurt
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp white wine vinegar

In separate pots, boil the potatoes and beets until tender. Let cool. When the beet is cool, hold the beet in one paper towel and scrub off the skin with another paper towel. Dice the beet. Toss the potatoes, beets, and dill pickle together in a bowl and let cool completely.

Whisk together the brine, yogurt, salt, and white wine vinegar. Toss with the potato-beet mixture until well-mixed. Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours, or ideally, overnight before serving.

Jam Squares
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 25 minutes

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil (or melted butter)
2 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp brown sugar
6 Tbsp jam or jelly of choice

Preheat oven to 350F and line an 8x8" baking pan with aluminum foil.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, applesauce, oil, milk, and brown sugar. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined. Stir in the jelly until combined. Spread the batter in the pan and bake for about 25 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the edges are golden.

* * * * *

This all went over pretty well, although the girls were a little wild and not totally in the mood to sit down and eat. The sandwiches had a great flavor - I left the carrot and chickpea mixtures a bit unsalted so that the saltiness of the pesto would not be too overpowering. The potato salad was wild - I didn't expect it to be quite so pink!! For grown-ups, I would add in capers as it needed a touch more salty flavor, but I thought the girls might object. It would be fun to serve at a princess party - it was so pink!!

The jam squares are barely a dessert - they are only very lightly sweet and definitely have a nutty whole wheat flavor. Both girls gobbled theirs down in two seconds flat, so clearly, they didn't mind not having an overly sweet dessert! I'm bringing the rest of the squares to a playgroup this morning, as they will be perfect for a light morning snack.


Jeni said...

What can I use instead of the greek yogurt? I haven't found any here in Guam! :)

Kara said...

Sour cream would be a great substitute! Greek yogurt tastes a lot like sour cream (to me, at least), but fat free Greek yogurt is way tastier than fat free sour cream, which is why I used it :-)